Few saw it coming. Scratch that, no one saw it coming, but there is now a new king at the box office. The mighty T. rex and the other dinos in Jurassic World crushed both The Avengers and Harry Potter to take not only the record for highest domestic opening weekend of all time, but also the record for highest international opening weekend of all time.
Jurassic World made $208.8 million in its opening weekend to surpass the previous record of 207.4 held by The Avengers at the domestic box office. Jurassic World made $315.6 million at the international box office on its opening weekend, which surpassed the previous record holder Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 had an international weekend opening of $314 million. All total, Jurassic World made $524.4 million globally on its opening weekend, and it is the only film to ever make more than $500 million in a single weekend. There are likely many more records for those dinos to smash, including fastest film to reach $1 billion at the box office.
Why exactly did it make so much? More importantly, how exactly did it absolutely trounce box office expectations? Before the film’s opening, box office analysts expected the film to take in between $115 million and $135 million domestically and $300 to $400 million globally. How exactly did it make so much more than people originally though it would? Here are 10 reasons why Jurassic world is the new box office champ.
10. Chris Pratt
Let’s face it; the days of the Hollywood A-listers are over. It’s not like it was in the 30s and 40s with Clark Gable, and it’s not even what it was like in the 90s, with names like George Clooney, Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt. Name recognition of a star doesn’t guarantee box office success anymore. In fact, Chris Pratt is one of only perhaps two stars that can add to a film’s box office take simply by name alone – the other being Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Even Robert Downey Jr. has little box office power outside of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With Chris Pratt rumored to be the next Indiana Jones, things look to get even bigger for him.
He certainly wasn’t the only reason Jurassic World opened to huge numbers, but he certainly had an impact. Most of his big movies are massive blockbusters and probably would still be blockbusters without him, but they certainly wouldn’t be as big. People really loved him as raptor trainer Owen Grady, in Jurassic World.
9. Strong Female Lead
Move over Ripley, there’s a new empowering female lead who’s the talk of the town. Not only is Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing the coolest character in Jurassic World, but she’s also one of the strongest female leads seen on the big screen in a long time. She goes from being a by the books office control freak to facing off against dinosaurs to rescue her nephews.
The whole time she did it while wearing high heels. Don’t listen to the claims that Jurassic World is sexist because Claire keeps her heels on while running through the jungle. She proved she has what it takes by rescuing Chris Pratt’s Owen Grady from certain doom multiple times in the film.
8. Superhero Fatigue
Jurassic World, just as Furious 7 did before it, showed that superhero movies are not the be-all-end-all at the cinema anymore. Superhero movies won’t be going anywhere anytime soon, but with upwards of ten superhero movies coming out every year, it’s simple math that eventually things are going to get too crowded. Only the die-hard fanboys are going to see every superhero movie released, and many want to avoid superhero films altogether if it isn’t a Marvel Cinematic Universe film. Is anybody really anticipating Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot?
They are still extremely popular and will be for maybe even a decade or more, but a superhero movie isn’t a surefire way to success anymore. Even Avengers: Age of Ultron made less than the first Avengers film, and it made significantly less opening weekend than many were predicting. Many moviegoers want a big-budget spectacle that is different and doesn’t involve capes and powers. Instead, they want monsters and dinosaurs fighting.
7. Release Date
There are many people saying that Jurassic World’s box office record will fall in a mere six months from now when Star Wars: the Force Awakens opens on December 18. It very well could considering the popularity of that franchise and the anticipation of seeing the original Star Wars cast on screen.
However, there is one important thing to remember about the box office and that’s that summer rules. No movie in December has ever opened with more than $85 million domestically on opening weekend. Even Avatar, the highest grossing movie of all time in total box office, only made a paltry $77 million domestic on its opening weekend.
With more and more blockbusters opening earlier and earlier, many think that when a movie opens doesn’t matter. However, Jurassic World proved that theory to be wrong. Kids are out of school for summer, people are taking time off work to enjoy the weather, and when it gets too hot, people want to go see a movie. June is a perfect month for a big-budget blockbuster. December might not be since people will be at home celebrating the holidays or simply bundled up and not wanting to go outside if the weather is too cold.
The marketing team behind Jurassic World really deserves a dino-sized pat on the back. The trailers captured the imaginations of fans and general audiences alike. The Jurassic World trailers were viewed millions of times and very well received. The marketing team also cleverly made sure not to show off the T. rex right away. In fact, we didn’t see the main T. rex in the film in any TV spots until just this week.
The 30th TV spot finally showed off the T-Rex, and it didn’t even come out until after Jurassic World was already in theaters. So, the T. rex reveal at the end of Jurassic World was a surprise to many moviegoers. Jurassic World also had great viral videos that showed off Masrani Global and InGen as the companies behind the creation, safety and day-to-day operations of the Jurassic World theme park. The Jurassic World website also cleverly featured webcams that could give visitors a look at the park. When the movie opened the webcams actually showed the terror of people trying to flee the park.
Jurassic World featured the original T. rex, park and island that were first featured in Jurassic Park. Fans were clamoring for this for a very long time. The nostalgia reached euphoric heights thanks to all the references and sly nods to Jurassic Park. The same jeep, the old visitor center was there, and the film was filled with plenty of other little Easter eggs.
Most importantly though, was the Tyrannosaurus Rex, and it wasn’t just any T. rex. This was the old granny T. rex that we first saw in Jurassic Park. She even had battle scars from when she was attacked by raptors at the end of Jurassic Park. Bringing back the original T. rex was one of the smartest things the people behind Jurassic World did. The perfect amount of time had passed since Jurassic Park III for people to forget about that movie, which most were underwhelmed by. The 22 years since Jurassic Park also meant that people were ready to see a Jurassic Park sequel that actually delivered the goods.
While the critic reviews weren’t over the top spectacular for Jurassic World, the overwhelming majority of critics liked the film. Even the few sticks in the mud that didn’t, managed to find some good in it. With a solid 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, Jurassic World turned out to be quite good in the eyes of critics. Even more telling is how the audience felt about it.
The audience approval rating for Jurassic World is a very impressive 85%, and the CinemaScore, which measures audience appeal for a film, was an A. The overwhelming majority of the people that saw this film loved it, and it wasn’t just kids and Jurassic Park fanboys. Pretty much everyone couldn’t stop raving about it, which is something that couldn’t be said for other recent blockbusters. That strong audience approval rating led to something else…
3. Word Of Mouth
As the weekend went on, it became increasingly obvious that those original estimates for Jurassic World’s opening weekend were way off. As people starting talking and telling their friends how great the movie was, more and more people started to check out the film. Show after show was sold out and those expecting to just walk in were surprised to find out that there weren’t any seats left. Eventually things reached a fever pitch.
Everyone was spreading the word about the movie, and soon it became clear that it was going to at least be the third biggest opening of all time, soon after people realized it would at least be the biggest opening of the year so far, and finally box office analysts realized that it was going to be the biggest opening weekend of all time. It took right up until the end for it to be official, but we saw the true power of word of mouth. It was as powerful as the T. rex’s bite.
2. Better Villains
Jurassic World had better villains than the other Jurassic Park sequels, and it arguably even had better villains than the original Jurassic Park. No one in the first Jurassic Park movie was straight up bad per se. Except perhaps Wayne Knight’s Dennis Nedry, who was the main reason for everything going to crap when he tried to sneak embryos off of the island for rival genetics company Biosyn.
Jurassic Park really lacked a true human villain, and even the T. rex and raptors were just animals looking to eat. Jurassic World changed that and drastically improved on the villains from The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III. Few found Peter Ludlow in The Lost World: Jurassic Park to be that interesting and complaints about the Spinosaurus in Jurassic Park III still exist to this day.
In Jurassic World it was different. We have two greedy villains who have ulterior motives in InGen security officer Vic Hoskins played by Vincent D’Onofrio, and geneticist Henry Wu played by B.D. Wong, who was the only returning human character from Jurassic Park. Of course, it was the dinosaur villain that stole the show. Indominus rex proved to be one of the most evil monsters ever seen on screen. In fact, it wasn’t really even a dinosaur at all, but rather a genetic hybrid and a creature created from lack of social interaction. Indominus rex went insane as the super intelligent creature tried to determine what exactly it was. It killed because it could, because it was angry and because it wanted to. It didn’t simply kill to get a meal like the dinosaurs in previous Jurassic Park films.
1. Colin Trevorrow
Colin Trevorrow by most accounts managed to make a Jurassic Park movie that even Jurassic Park director and Jurassic World producer Steven Spielberg, is extremely proud of. He was smart when it came to getting good performances out of the actors, and he was heavily involved in the script for Jurassic World. He brought in actors he had previously worked with, like New Girl’s Jake Johnson who appeared in Trevorrow’s first film: the highly entertaining sci-fi indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed.
Johnson was just one of many intriguing side characters in Jurassic World, and Johnson’s character Lowery Cruthers, provided the funniest lines in the film. Lowery also proved to be a fan favorite very quickly and even bucked a typical action movie cliche at the end of the film. Trevorrow managed to get stellar performances not just out of highly talented and experienced actors like Bryce Dallas Howard, who showed she could be an empowering heroine, and Vincent D’Onofiro, but he even got great performances from the child actors in the film.
He knew what to bring back from the other Jurassic Park movies and what to cut. The great Jurassic Park musical theme is there, but there is no talking Velociraptors like in Jurassic Park III’s silly dream sequence. He put in plenty of nods to the original and expanded on the original’s most interesting moments. Most importantly, he focused on what people have wanted to see for over 20 years – a Jurassic Park movie that actually had a fully functional theme park complete with Starbucks, high-end restaurants, instructional tour videos hosted by Jimmy Fallon and of course, a lot of different dinosaurs. Finally, he knew the final showdown had to be epic and it had to top the T. rex vs. raptors from the original Jurassic Park. He certainly delivered on that and managed to bring to life perhaps the most epic final fight in film history.