If it hadn’t been for that other sequel that came out last year, Jurassic World would have been 2015’s biggest earner at the box office. The fourth entry in the Jurassic Park series shattered expectations and became a huge success. A big reason why it worked for so many people was its familiarity; Jurassic World took a lot of the framework from the original film and retooled it for some new characters and concepts. However, there was a point during the film’s development where things would have gotten a lot weirder and riskier.
Jurassic World took a long time to get to the big screen, and one of the detours it took on its journey might have been either the most brilliant or most wrong-headed decision in the franchise’s history. Around 2004, screenwriter John Sayles (writer of cult classics like Piranha, Alligator, and The Howling) was drafted to take a pass at the sequel and he decided to go back to a concept from the original story that hadn’t really been expanded upon in the subsequent films: the idea of genetic manipulation. A big plot element of the original Jurassic Park was the introduction of frog DNA into the coding sequences of the dinosaurs, thereby allowing the creatures to change their sex and reproduce. Sayles asked a somewhat obvious question: if scientists could insert frog DNA into the genetic samples that were collected, why couldn’t other DNA be spliced in?
And that’s what led to the insane idea of human-dinosaur hybrids. In Sayles’ draft, InGen had begun experimenting with the idea of combining humans and dinosaurs and using the resulting creatures as mercenaries.
Don’t believe me? Check out this batch of official concept art that shows how close we came to such a bizarre idea making it to the movie theater:
By the time the movie got to being the Jurassic World we all know, this idea had been scrapped but not entirely forgotten. In the finished film, Dr. Henry Wu is shown to have been messing around with DNA in all sorts of odd ways, creating what looks to be entirely new species of creatures. Considering where his character and his research is left at the end of the movie, it’s very likely that some element of this concept could rear its head in the Jurassic World sequel.
In fact, Sayles contributed another idea that eventually did make its way into the final version of Jurassic World; in his first draft of the fourth Jurassic Park film, a mercenary character named Nick Harris is tasked with training and working with a group of genetically modified dinosaurs (Deinonychus, a relative of the more well-known Velociraptor) in order to use them for rescue missions. It’s pretty clear that this concept stuck around and eventually mutated into Chris Pratt’s story as Velociraptor caretaker Owen Grady.
Could an idea as radical as human-dino hybrids work in a Jurassic Park film? Would audiences be more accepting of such a far-out concept after Jurassic World gave us the incredibly sci-fi notion of the Indominus rex? There’s no doubt that the series is going to continue in a new and uncharted direction, so it’s possible that this unused approach may not be relegated to the trash pile just yet.