The original special effects in Jurassic Park were quite different from the end result.
Spielberg had planned to make Schindler’s List after completing Hook. While he received Universal’s blessing for the project, there was a proviso: he had to shoot Jurassic Park first.
The project had initially been brought to Spielberg’s attention by author Michael Crichton before the book was even published; the director had shown an interest. Now that he was locked in to begin work on Jurassic Park, Spielberg turned to stop motion animation supremo, Phil Tippett, and Stan Winston’s expertise in the field of animatronics and puppeteering to create the visual effects.
Dennis Muren, visual effects supervisor at ILM (Industrial Light and Magic), was approached and given the brief of putting motion blur on the stop motion animation to create a more realistic special effect. Muren consulted his team at ILM who had created the CGI metallic effects in The Abyss (1989) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), and they suggested doing the entire film using CG dinosaurs.
The idea was dismissed. However, Muren’s team went maverick, and outside of office hours they created a walking CGI dinosaur skeleton demo. When Jurassic Park producer Kathleen Kennedy visited the ILM operation, the tech demo just so happened to be playing when she walked past. It worked.
A demo was completed that showed a fully skinned walking T-Rex and the decision was made to use CGI in place of stop-motion. Phil Tippett famously declared: “I’ve just become extinct”, a line the director would take and use in the film. Spielberg was so impressed with the visual effects that he rewrote the ending to encompass them.
The groundbreaking CGI effects completely stole the film and Spielberg, insistent in keeping them as a surprise for audiences, ensured that nothing was shown in the trailers during the lead up to the release. It worked. Audiences were astonished when the CGI dinosaurs first walked across the screen.
With Spielberg due to begin work on Schindler’s List in Poland, the director entrusted most of the post-production work to his good friend, George Lucas. Jurassic Park was made for $US67 million. On the opening weekend it smashed $US47 million, eventually earning $US1.1 billion worldwide at the box office. And in 1994, the film won all three Oscars it was nominated for: Best Sound Editing, Best Sound Mixing and Best Visual Effects.