The Jurassic Park Logo - The Evolution Of An Icon
Michael Crichton’s seventh novel Jurassic Park is a cautionary tale of genetic engineering and chaos theory. Man plays God at his peril when seemingly simple changes can have disastrous results.
Crichton began the project in 1983, originally intending it as a screenplay told from a child’s perspective. By 1990 it had become a novel, with dinosaurs cloned from DNA harvested from prehistoric insects trapped in ancient amber.
While palaeontologist Alan Grant and palaeobotanist Ellie Sattler see John Hammond’s dinosaur theme park as a miraculous opportunity, chaos theory mathematician Ian Malcolm sees only the dangers of a poorly understood complex system.
Struggling to find the right book cover, publishers Alfred A. Knopf turned to in-house graphic designer Chip Kidd. Fittingly, Kidd found his inspiration from an old palaeontologist, Henry Fairfield Osborn.
Born in 1857, the son of a railroad tycoon, the precocious Osborn studied geology, archaeology and anatomy before being hired by the American Museum of Natural History to curate their newly founded Department of Vertebrate Palaeontology. Through his position and his family’s vast wealth he helped amass one of the world’s finest fossil collections. Among the dinosaurs he described and named were the Tyrannosaurus Rex (1905) and the Velociraptor (1924).
In 1917 he published a skeletal diagram of the T-Rex and this would become the basis for Chip Kidd’s book cover design.
Critically acclaimed, Crichton’s work would go on to sell over 9 million copies in its first three years of release. But, even before its publication, the film rights were being fought over. Warner Bros, Columbia Pictures and 20th Century Fox were all in the running, but Universal Studios won out, with Stephen Spielberg lined up to direct.
Spielberg knew that his realisation of Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs would create awe and wonder amongst cinema goers and was determined to keep his powder dry. The marketing of the movie would be simple and would not feature any dinosaur images from the film.
Acclaimed movie poster designer and illustrator John Alvin produced a number of designs, but it would be Kidd’s image that Universal’s marketing team returned to, simply adding a dash of colour and a title to create the iconic Jurassic Park logo.
Crichton’s book sequel The Lost World (1995) would also receive the Spielberg treatment, with the iconic logo now realised in cracked-rock-relief.
Jurassic Park III would follow in 2001. Using a new story, but including several scenes from Crichton’s novels that had not made the previous movies, its logo would use a Spinosaurus in place of a T-Rex with the ominous shadow of a Pteranodon overhead.
The Jurassic Park movie trilogy would take over $2 Billion at the global box office and fossilise itself in the culture of a cinema going generation.
Development of Jurassic Park IV commenced in 2001. By 2005 it had stalled, with Spielberg yet to find a script he was happy with. It would be 2012 before Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver were hired to complete a script incorporating Spielberg’s ideas. By 2013, the script had been approved and production could begin.
In 1997 Crichton’s Jurassic Park novels had been published in a single book entitled Jurassic World and this is the title the new film would take.
Released in 2015, Jurassic World would reboot the world of Isla Neblar, respecting and cleverly dove-tailing with the events of the first three films. Its logo would also respect its lineage, changing only the title before being cast in steel.
Jurassic World would become the first film to take over $500 million in a single weekend and would eventually take over $1.6 Billion at the box office. A trilogy was on the cards.
The battered and cracked logo of 2018’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, flecked by fire, would foretell the disastrous events of the movie.
June 2022 sees the long-awaited release of the trilogy’s climax, Jurassic World: Dominion. In a magical piece of design, it is this logo that brings the franchise full circle, returning to the simplicity of Chip Kidd’s original design, we see the skeletal T-Rex encased in prehistoric amber.
Growing up, we loved watching the Jurassic Park movies. The Jurassic World films have become firm favourites of our family. We cannot wait to see the conclusion of the story. If as much thought has gone in to the film as went in to the logo, we are in for a treat.
Jurassic World: Dominion is released on 10th June 2022. You can find all of the Jurassic Park / World movie posters that we have here.
Adam and the Art of the Movies team.