As the follow-up to the critically and commercially successful Jurassic Park, Steven Spielberg had big plans for the original story for The Lost World: Jurassic Park (essentially, Jurassic Park 2). But the sequel wasn’t without its own development challenges. Many of Spielberg’s plans for the story were put aside or abandoned, meaning ideas that would be stunning onscreen never made it to the movie.
The first Jurassic Park movie is based upon the novel of the same name by author Michael Crichton. Despite Crichton having a writing credit for the script, the film changed much of the original content. The novel is a scientific thriller and horror, with less of the movie’s adventurous, wondrous feel and uplifting ending. After the success of the first movie, there was a lot of pressure from fans and the industry for a sequel, but there was not (yet) a second book to base a script upon. Spielberg began making his own plans for what would be depicted in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, working with the screenplay’s co-writer David Koepp. Crichton simultaneously worked on The Lost World book, the sequel to the first novel which he then intended to adapt into a screenplay for the second movie.
The end product includes details from both Crichton’s novel and Spielberg’s brainstorming with Koepp. The testy relationship is well documented, with Kathleen Kennedy, executive producer on the film, quoted in TIME as saying, “In the same way Michael doesn’t see writing as a collaboration, Steven went off and did his own movie.” Both writer and director respected the other’s role in The Lost World: Jurassic Park, however, saying each was responsible for only their own art form. In the compromise, Spielberg and Koepp dropped most of Crichton’s drama in favor of their own ideas, keeping the premise and setup but generating much of the rest independently from Crichton’s work.
One such idea saw the retrieval of the canister of dinosaur DNA stolen by Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight) as key to the plot. Another had characters on motorcycles attempting to outrun a group of velociraptors. If that sounds familiar, this idea eventually made its way into the sequel Jurassic World in a slightly adjusted form. In early scripts, the flying Pteranodon dinosaurs also featured much more prominently in two scenes: one where Jeff Goldblum’s Ian Malcom and other characters would escape them by flying hang-gliders off a cliff and another where the flying monsters attacked the helicopter which was attempting to escape their island home. These ideas were the basis for similar scenes in the sequel Jurassic Park III which featured the Pteranodon much more heavily. Finally, it took some time for Spielberg and Koepp to agree on the now-famous ending where the Tyrannosaurus rex rampages through San Diego. It was added to the script only weeks before filming began.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park could have looked very different to the movie that hit theaters. At least fans of the franchise ended up being able to see these incredible scenes in later instalments. And with the franchise-closing Jurassic World: Dominion, one can only wonder what other rejected scenes from earlier installments might make their way into the movie.