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19 Jun 2015 00:00
Big on charm: Chris Pratt in 'Jurassic World'.
The centrepiece of Jurassic World, which has just enjoyed the highest-grossing worldwide opening of any film in history – $511.8-million – is a new synthetic super-dinosaur: the Indominus rex. When it busts out of its enclosure and goes stompabout in the grounds of a dinosaur amusement park, a scientist involved in its manufacture reveals that the creature is a pick ’n mix of various species: a dash of cuttlefish, a pinch of toad, a dollop of velociraptor and so on, all creating a perfect storm of monstrousness.
It is by a similar process of engineering that Jurassic World itself has come to dominate the cinema landscape. As part of a much-loved franchise, tantalisingly scary but never trespassing beyond the confines of family entertainment, it was always going to be a hit; it leaves no demographic excluded.
An extra push to convince audiences to see it in 3D and even Imax has boosted its takings further.
The level of success suggests something greater than just the comforts of a familiar brand or the allure of technology.
His two previous lead roles were in movies that magically combined commercialism and hipness (Guardians of the Galaxy and The Lego Movie) and he brings to this more formulaic blockbuster some of that perceived cool.
No matter that the lead female character in Jurassic World is a tiresome throwback – a prim career gal who is taught to loosen up by a relaxed and rugged man. One smile from Pratt has melted most objections to these sexist archetypes.
Not showing the picture to the press until the 11th hour will also have given it a helpful headstart, arresting the progress of any lukewarm reviews. The first previews were held a mere 48 hours before release.
Don’t get me wrong: some movies are critic-proof and all the downward-pointing thumbs in the world would not have dented the film’s takings noticeably. But, as the owner of any dinosaur amusement park will tell you, it pays to be careful: critics, like velociraptors, can bite.
Other factors have worked brilliantly in the movie’s favour. Like the forthcoming new Star Wars movie, the distance from a previous and unloved instalment (in this case, Jurassic Park III) is wide enough that the new film is not tainted by association.
It has done spectacularly well in China, where it drew a fifth of its entire global audience. Could this be something to do with the appetite in that country for recent monster movies such as Godzilla?
And its competition worldwide has been negligible – it would have been suicidal for any other studio to open a blockbuster on the same day.
All this is before the money from the film’s merchandise has started to roll in. Suddenly you realise why the music in the movie swells excitedly whenever the camera gazes at a busy concourse packed with Jurassic World tourists thronging the gift shops. – © Guardian News & Media 2015
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