How spy movies inspired Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

Colin Trevorrow, the dino-sequel's writer, drew inspiration from a Steven Spielberg movie -- and not the one you might think.

Richard Trenholm Former Movie and TV Senior Editor
Richard Trenholm was CNET's film and TV editor, covering the big screen, small screen and streaming. A member of the Film Critic's Circle, he's covered technology and culture from London's tech scene to Europe's refugee camps to the Sundance film festival.
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Richard Trenholm
4 min read

"Making a sequel is not easy," says Colin Trevorrow -- and he should know.

Writer and producer of the new movie Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Trevorrow was also set to oversee Star Wars : Episode IX before he very publicly parted ways with Star Wars bigwigs.

He's therefore well-placed to appreciate the difficulty of positioning long-running series like Star Wars and Jurassic Park so they appeal both to die-hard fans and new audiences. 

"Finding the balance between those two things is the challenge that all these franchises face," Trevorrow says. "It's really hard to make new versions of the things we love." 

Rumours suggest that Trevorrow wasn't keen on some of the storytelling choices made by his counterpart Rian Johnson in Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi -- or that Trevorrow's working relationship with Kennedy wasn't great. But, perhaps understandably, he doesn't want to talk about it. 

"I don't want to affect the way fans get to enjoy those films," he says. "I feel like, especially for kids, Star Wars used to come to us from far away. It was a gift, and the more we talk about how it's made, the more we reveal it's just a movie. And it's not just a movie, to me. It's more than that."


Bryce Dallas Howard wonders, "Do you think he saw us?"


The divided reaction to Last Jedi shows just how tough it can be to make a sequel that pleases everyone. Having revived Steven Spielberg's much-loved dinosaur blockbuster series with 2015's Jurassic World, Trevorrow wanted to hand over a script for the sequel Fallen Kingdom that was tailored to the horror background of incoming director J.A. Bayona. The resulting film draws out elements of earlier Jurassic Park films that Trevorrow acknowledges were missing from the first Jurassic World. 

"What we didn't have a lot of in that movie was suspense," says Trevorrow, "and tight, claustrophobic terror." By contrast, Fallen Kingdom sees "the walls close in around the characters."

To accomplish this, Trevorrow and his co-writer Derek Connolly abandoned the safe blockbuster screenwriting template. "The first one was a very audience-friendly movie," Trevorrow says. "It was structured in a very American, kind of action/adventure way, and I wanted this to be different."

"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" - Photocall
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"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom" - Photocall

Screenwriter Colin Trevorrow, on the far left, joins Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona with stars Bryce Dallas Howard, Chris Pratt, Jeff Goldblum and friend.

David M. Benett

Without giving too much away, Fallen Kingdom ends up very far from where it begins, in tone and style as well as location. Chatting to Trevorrow in London shortly before the movie's release, I wondered what the moneymen said when they heard Connolly and him say they wanted to get experimental with this multimillion-dollar film.

"The studio has always given me a lot of freedom," Trevorrow says with a smile. He points out that he has one important person in his corner: original Jurassic Park director, Jurassic World producer and all-round movie icon Steven Spielberg. "I've got to get everything past him," Trevorrow says.

Spielberg was heavily involved in developing ideas for Jurassic World, but looked to Trevorrow and Connolly to develop their own ideas for Fallen Kingdom. Interestingly, they drew on another Spielberg movie, and not one you might expect.

 "I came in with a structure that to me was based on what he and [writer] Matt Charman did on Bridge of Spies," says Trevorrow.

He says he was "fascinated" by the structure of Spielberg's true-life Cold War drama, written by Charman and polished by the Coen brothers, in which two apparently unrelated stories "collide in the middle, and move on together."

Trevorrow also drew on another classic spy movie for Fallen Kingdom: the 1975 thriller Three Days of the Condor, starring Robert Redford. "It's one of those places where you think you know what the score is," Trevorrow says, "and then everything changes, and then suddenly you don't know who to trust." 


Fallen Kingdom is intended to stand together with previous movies in the Jurassic Park series, which starred Jeff Goldblum.


Fallen Kingdom will be followed by a third Jurassic World movie in 2021. Having worked out a three-movie storyline, Trevorrow believes the Jurassic World trilogy will differ from the first three Jurassic Park movies. 

"I actually did like all three of them in different ways," he says of the previous films. But he notes that despite bringing back familiar characters in each film they lacked an emotional throughline.

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After the next movie completes the new trilogy, he intends for both sets of films to ultimately stand together. "When you watch all six of these movies," he says, "I want them to feel like a long story. You'll see all of the pieces and how those fit into what we're doing now." 

That includes the issues around science, responsibility and greed raised by the series. "These aren't message movies," he says, "But I do find the dinosaurs to be a metaphor for man's relationship with the environment we share with other animals."

The original Jurassic Park asked whether it was right to create new life with genetics. By Fallen Kingdom, the genie is out of the bottle. In other words, in this digital age we must wrestle with the consequences of the technology we've built.

As Trevorrow puts it in regard to the technology of Jurassic World, "mistakes were made. Now what do we do?"

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom will open June 6 in the UK, June 21 in Australia and June 22 in the US.

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First published, June 2 at 5 a.m. PT.
Updated June 21 at 11:10 a.m. PT.  

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