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James Cameron almost directed a ‘nastier’ Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park
Image used with permission by copyright holder

James Cameron is a very successful director. He was behind the camera for the two highest grossing movies in history (Titanic and Avatar), and at this point it seems like everything the man touches turns to box office gold. However, that doesn’t mean that he’s always been able to take on the projects he’d like. For instance, the movie adaptation of hyper-successful novelist Michael Crichton’s book Jurassic Park.

In a recent Huffington Post article, Cameron was asked about any high-profile movie projects that he’d describe as “the one that got away,” and his response was an interesting story about the film rights to Crichton’s 1990 novel.

“I tried to buy the book rights and [director Steven Spielberg] beat me to it by a few hours,” Cameron said. “But when I saw the film, I realised that I was not the right person to make the film, he was. Because he made a dinosaur movie for kids, and mine would have been Aliens with dinosaurs, and that wouldn’t have been fair.”

“Dinosaurs are for 8-year-olds. We can all enjoy it, too, but kids get dinosaurs and they should not have been excluded for that. His sensibility was right for that film, I’d have gone further, nastier, much nastier.”

Though Spielberg’s film went on to be a massive success (according to Box Office Mojo the movie pulled in $557.6 million worldwide), we’re suddenly very curious about Cameron’s ideas for his version of Crichton’s novel. As Cameron points out, Spielberg’s family-friendly sensibilities were a perfect fit for the film, and it seems likely that Cameron’s version would necessarily draw less money due to its darker tone. Aliens, the film Cameron referenced in his story, is seen as one of the best sci-fi horror films ever created, but even so it only managed to earn a mere $131 million worldwide in its 1986 debut — a little over a quarter of what Jurassic Park pulled in at the box office.

Still, we can help but wonder what Cameron’s “nastier” Jurassic Park might have looked like. Perhaps a group of tough-as-nails marines would be stranded on a tropical island full of surprisingly cunning dinosaurs that systematically pick off survivors one by one until the unlikeliest hero of the bunch finally summons the courage for an epic showdown with the Tyrannosaurus Rex, armed only with near-futuristic heavy weaponry and a contemptuous attitude toward the scaly creatures that have murdered all of his (or her, given Cameron’s tendency toward spotlighting tough female protagonists in his films) friends.

Though there seems no way that we’ll ever witness James Cameron’s Jurassic Park, it will now go down in history as one of the more intriguing “What if?”s in Hollywood history, alongside Back To The Future starring Eric Stoltz, and Alejandro Jodorowsky’s epic vision of Dune that would have starred Orson Welles and featured art design by none other than brilliant surrealist artist Salvador Dali.

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Earnest Cavalli
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Earnest Cavalli has been writing about games, tech and digital culture since 2005 for outlets including Wired, Joystiq…
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