Jurassic World Dominion Synopsis
This summer, experience the epic conclusion to the Jurassic era as two generations unite for the first time. CHRIS PRATT and BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD are joined by Oscar®-winner LAURA DERN, JEFF GOLDBLUM and SAM NEILL in Jurassic World Dominion, a bold, timely and breathtaking new adventure that spans the globe.
From Jurassic World architect and director COLIN TREVORROW, Dominion takes place four years after Isla Nublar has been destroyed. Dinosaurs now live—and hunt—alongside humans all over the world. This fragile balance will reshape the future and determine, once and for all, whether human beings are to remain the apex predators on a planet they now share with history’s most fearsome creatures.
Jurassic World Dominion, from Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, propels the more than $5 billion franchise into daring, uncharted territory, featuring never-seen dinosaurs, breakneck action and astonishing new visual effects.
The film features new cast members DeWANDA WISE (She’s Gotta Have It), Emmy nominee MAMOUDOU ATHIE (Archive 81), DICHEN LACHMAN (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), SCOTT HAZE (Minari) and CAMPBELL SCOTT (The Amazing Spider-Man 2). The film’s returning cast includes BD WONG as Dr. Henry Wu, JUSTICE SMITH as Franklin Webb, DANIELLA PINEDA as Dr. Zia Rodriguez, OMAR SY as Barry Sembenè and ISABELLA SERMON as Maisie Lockwood.
Jurassic World Dominion is directed by Colin Trevorrow, who steered 2015’s Jurassic World to a record-shattering $1.7 billion global box office. The screenplay is by EMILY CARMICHAEL (Battle at Big Rock) & Colin Trevorrow from a story by DEREK CONNOLLY (Jurassic World) & Trevorrow, based on characters created by MICHAEL CRICHTON. Jurassic World Dominion is produced by acclaimed franchise producers FRANK MARSHALL p.g.a. and PATRICK CROWLEY p.g.a. and is executive produced by legendary, Oscar®-winning franchise creator STEVEN SPIELBERG, ALEXANDRA DERBYSHIRE and Trevorrow.
The film’s director of photography is JOHN SCHWARTZMAN, ace (Jurassic World), the production designer is KEVIN JENKINS (Star Wars: Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker) and the editor is MARK SANGER, ace, bfe (Gravity). The film’s music is by MICHAEL GIACCHINO (The Batman) and the Jurassic Park theme is by JOHN WILLIAMS. The costume designer is JOANNA JOHNSTON (Lincoln), the visual effects supervisor is DAVID VICKERY (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) and the live-action dinosaurs are by JOHN NOLAN (Into the Woods).
THE BACKSTORY: A World Forever Changed
The End of the Jurassic Era
For all the ground that the Jurassic World films have broken, for all the records they have shattered, for their almost-incalculable impact on global culture and on cinema itself, no film series has had a more direct, profound and enduring impact on a field of science than the Jurassic franchise.
Following the debut of Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park in 1993, paleontology would never again be the same. “Jurassic Park was the most important thing that’s happened to paleontology in the last several decades, because that film brought dinosaurs back to life for a new generation, and it showed dinosaurs in a way they had never been shown before,” says STEPHEN BRUSATTE, Professor of Palaeontology and Evolution at University of Edinburgh, who served as the film’s paleontology consultant. “It led to a public reawakening of dinosaurs, and that led to so many more young people going into paleontology. It led to more money going into the field, it led to more universities putting on dinosaur courses, it caused museums to put on dinosaur exhibits, and we’re still reaping the benefits of that. We are in the golden age of paleontology where somebody somewhere around the world is finding a new species of dinosaur once a week on average, and that’s been going on for over a decade now because this is the Jurassic Park generation of paleontologists.”
The Jurassic Park generation. The term extends far beyond aspiring paleontologists and, in fact, spans multiple generations. For almost three decades, the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World films, based on characters created by author Michael Crichton, have inspired awe and wonder and terror and exhilaration and unfettered joy in almost every living person who has crossed the threshold of a movie theatre in the past 29 years. Under the guidance of filmmaker Colin Trevorrow, who reignited the franchise with Jurassic World in 2015 and has been the series’ creative architect ever since, and long-time franchise producers Frank Marshall and Patrick Crowley, the films have become woven into the cultural DNA of almost every country on Earth.
“With these films, I’m sharing the next few chapters of a story we’ve been telling around the campfire for thirty years,” Colin Trevorrow says. “This is a world that Steven Spielberg and Michael Crichton created together, and I have been fortunate enough to be a custodian of it for three films—in collaboration with Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom director J.A. Bayona, the writers and everyone who’s worked to make this what it is. I’m so grateful to Steven for allowing a new generation to continue telling the story that he and his collaborators began.”
Jurassic World Dominion is the conclusion of that unprecedented three-decade story, and it is, by design, unlike any Jurassic film that has come before. “There is a cataclysmic event in the middle of the trilogy that fundamentally changes everything,” Trevorrow says. “The dinosaurs are taken off the island and released out into the wider world. It was such an amazing opportunity to be able to explore the consequences of that. Jurassic World Dominion is about the need for us to respect the power of the natural world—if we fail, we’ll go extinct just like the dinosaurs. Not only are we finishing the story begun in 2015 in Jurassic World, we’re finishing the story that was begun in 1993 with Jurassic Park. That’s a story that takes all the characters in the saga to tell.”
For the first time, the film does not take place on Isla Nublar, but entirely in our world, and, for the only time in history, the stars of both chapters of the franchise – Laura Dern as Dr. Ellie Sattler, Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm and Sam Neill as Dr. Alan Grant from Jurassic Park and Chris Pratt as Owen Grady and Bryce Dallas Howard as Claire Dearing from Jurassic World – are united on screen, joining BD Wong who, as Dr. Henry Wu, who appeared in 1993’s Jurassic Park and now all three Jurassic World films. For Trevorrow, these characters are central to this film and are the reason for the franchise’s success all these years. “These characters are rich, and the drama is human and real,” Trevorrow. “The best version of this movie is one that works even without the dinosaurs.”
The fusion of those two casts was long-planned. “We designed this trilogy to bring in characters from Jurassic Park,” Trevorrow says. “We had BD Wong in Jurassic World to assure the audience that this was the same timeline; then we brought in Ian Malcolm in Fallen Kingdom to reassure people that Malcolm is very much paying attention to what’s going on. In Dominion, the legacy cast is as equally involved as Claire and Owen. We don’t just bring them in to exist in some supervisory, parental role. We send them on a true, honest-to-God, scary-as-hell adventure.”
Says producer Frank Marshall: “Colin has a depth of knowledge and a rich understanding about these characters and this world, and it shows in every page of the screenplay and every frame of film,” Marshall says. “We can’t wait for audiences around the world to experience it.”
Joining the franchise for the first time as Trevorrow’s co-screenwriter on Dominion is Emily Carmichael, who scripted the 2019 Jurassic-themed short film Battle at Big Rock with him. “I first met Emily Carmichael when I was in New York City shooting The Book of Henry,” says Trevorrow, who conceived the Dominion story with his fellow Jurassic World and Fallen Kingdom screenwriter Derek Connolly. “Emily made a brilliant short film that was at Sundance, and I called her after I saw it. I found a kinship with her in the way she approaches storytelling, the kinds of ideas she has. She started having this incredible career as a writer and it gave me the ability to go into the studio and say that this is the screenwriter that I want to partner with. Derek—who became so busy after we had written the story—and I felt like this was an opportunity to be able to bring in a new voice and perspective. I asked Steven Spielberg and the studio if they would support my joining up with Emily; everybody did, and we went from there.”
For Carmichael, the experience was exciting on every level. “It was wonderful,” Carmichael says. “Learning the voices of the different characters from Jurassic Park was one of the most thrilling parts of the process. Listening to the way that their characters choose words—from Ian Malcolm’s distinctive ‘uhms’ and ‘uhs’ to Henry Wu’s more formal style of speech. Dr. Wu doesn’t use conjunctions when another person might. Claire is so heartfelt. Ellie has a lightness and an effervescence, which we forget about because she’s also hard as nails. And Maisie Lockwood, our teenage character, is starting to come to life. Listening to each character’s diction, the way that they choose words—and writing lines that felt unique and true to each—was exhilarating as a writer.”
The structure of the screenplay sets up two separate storylines, one with Owen Grady, Claire Dearing and Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon), the other with Dr. Ellie Sattler and Dr. Alan Grant, that will eventually intersect with Dr. Ian Malcolm, Dr. Henry Wu and new characters such as Kayla Watts (DeWanda Wise) and Ramsey Cole (Mamoudou Athie) and rocket forward in a powerful, singular narrative. “Colin, Emily and Derek have achieved something truly unprecedented,” Marshall says. “Up until now, humans and dinosaurs have been separated. Now they are an integral part of our world. And to bring these two generations of characters together in such an organic and seamless way is an incredible and powerful achievement.”
Trevorrow was grateful for the trust his fellow filmmakers placed in their vision. “Universal and Steven Spielberg put a lot of faith in the way that we structured this movie,” Trevorrow says. “We have two stories that draw closer and closer together until they collide in the third act. It’s an epic, sweeping narrative that I think honors all our characters in a fulfilling way. When they finally come together, it is explosive.”
That explosive union (and reunion) occurs in the top-secret complex of a mysterious and powerful biotech company known as Biosyn, set in a vast valley in the Dolomite Mountains. To the outside world, Biosyn appears to be a beneficent company dedicated to solving world hunger by creating crops impervious to pests and disease using breakthrough genetic modification. The company has secured a contract to collect dinosaurs out in the world and then transport them to their sanctuary in this secure valley to safely study them. But the true purpose of their research and intent is anything but benign.
Biosyn is run by Lewis Dodgson (Campbell Scott), a character last seen in 1993’s Jurassic Park handing an empty Barbasol can to the ill-fated, would-be smuggler of dinosaur embryos, Dennis Nedry. Biosyn company employs both Dr. Henry Wu as a genetic engineer, and Dr. Ian Malcom as the company’s in-house philosopher. For different reasons, Owen Grady, Claire Dearing and Kayla Watts, and Dr. Ellie Sattler and Dr. Alan Grant will all find their way to Biosyn Valley—and together uncover the true nature of Biosyn’s work, and the cataclysmic implications for the planet.
The return of Lewis Dodgson and the union of the two generations of cast was both thrilling and moving for almost everyone on the production. For many of the cast and crew on the set of Dominion, the film proved to be a poetic and poignant full-circle moment in their lives and careers. “People who want to get into film generally do so because of a key film that they saw when they were a kid,” says producer Patrick Crowley, who joined the franchise beginning with 2015’s Jurassic World. “You ask around on any set, and a lot of people have answers about what motivated them. On our set, you would hear more people say that Jurassic Park was the inspiration for them to be in the movie business. It’s wonderful that it’s finally come around for them. Thirty years later, they got a chance to do exactly what they dreamed of as a child.”
Over the course of the Jurassic World trilogy, dinosaur behavior expert Owen Grady has notably evolved. “In Jurassic World, Owen is a bit rogue,” Chris Pratt says. “He was right in the peak of his heroism and he was keeping love at arm’s length. In Fallen Kingdom, we start to see him take some more responsibility. And now, in Dominion, Owen has obligations. He’s a father and a husband. He can’t just throw caution to the wind and do the crazy things that he used to because he has more people depending on him. He has something to live for beyond just himself or his own sense of adventure and he’s desperately trying to keep his loved ones safe.”
When we meet Owen in Dominion, he and Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard) are living off-the-grid with Maisie Lockwood (Isabella Sermon) in an effort to keep Maisie safe.
Although the family has successfully been living surreptitiously, Maisie begins to go a little stir crazy. “She wants to go into town, explore and spread her wings,” Pratt says. “But Owen and Claire know that because of who she is and the unique nature of her existence, she’s a target who is valuable to science and to these giant companies who may be able to profit off of her. So, their main goal is to keep her sheltered and protected.”
Looking back at his time with the franchise, Pratt is grateful for the relationship that he’s built with his co-star Bryce Dallas Howard. “Bryce has been such a great partner,” Pratt says. “I couldn’t have scored a better film wife. She’s so kind, thoughtful and persistent. Since day one, I’ve been so grateful to work with her, and it’s sad to think we won’t play these characters again in this franchise, but it’s definitely not the last I’ll work with her. I know we’ll build something together again.”
When he signed on to the Jurassic World franchise years ago, Pratt didn’t know where his character or story would end up, and he certainly didn’t expect that he’d be acting alongside the legacy cast of Jurassic Park. “It was such a big deal for me to be part of this, and I desperately hoped that we would get support from Sam, Laura and Jeff,” Pratt says. “I hoped they would be happy with what we did as they passed the torch to us. And I think their appearing in this final celebration of the franchise is all the confirmation I need that they were happy with what we’ve done with it.”
Pratt commends Universal and the film’s crew for creating and abiding by the strict COVID protocols that were put in place for the production. “It was expensive and arduous, and it required a whole new department being added to the production,” Pratt says. “At the time, I talked to people who would say, ‘Really? You’re going back into production? Are you sure that’s safe?’ And I would say, ‘Listen, if there’s an industry that’s cut out to handle this, it’s the film industry.’ If anyone has the resources, the will, the passion and the necessity to get something done, it’s a film crew. I think it’s a feat of human ingenuity that we were able to be one of the first film productions to put all of the protocols in place and keep everyone safe.”
Countless events have happened in the eight years between Jurassic World and now, and Pratt has appreciated every experience that’s led to the culmination of this trilogy. “I get a little sentimental thinking about everything that we’ve all been through together over these years — from watching people fall in love and get married or watching babies be born — there’s been beauty and there’s been trauma, and we’ve all been there for each other through it all,” Pratt says. “And now, it’s the end of an era, and in a way, it’s sad, but it’s also really beautiful.”
Bryce Dallas Howard
Similar to her partner Owen, Claire Dearing has also continued to transform and change over the span of the Jurassic World trilogy. “Claire is such an interesting, nuanced, atypical heroine,” Bryce Dallas Howard says. “She has a specific journey that she goes through in each film. When we first meet her in Jurassic World, she has all the makings of a villain. She’s an executive who plainly values money over life. But by the end of that film, she’s gone through a transformative experience and we see her step into her feminine power, using it for good. In Fallen Kingdom, she’s gone too far and actually lost a bit of perspective. She’s myopic and while she makes choices that are now in alignment with her values, she perhaps doesn’t keep the bigger picture in mind. Fallen Kingdom was about her navigating her own conscience and her role in this disaster that’s continuing to grow. Now, coming into Dominion, Claire is in alignment with her values and she knows what’s important for her life. She knows how to make a difference. But she’s dealing with the guilt for the trauma that’s been inflicted upon others and has a sense of responsibility to fix it.”
Dallas Howard explains that Trevorrow had a clear vision about the trilogy from the start. “Colin also empowered us with such a sense of ownership over our characters and the story, which was great because Chris is a brilliant and inventive storyteller,” Dallas Howard says. “Over the course of the first two films, Chris came up with so many specific ideas. He would say things like, ‘I want to see a kid riding on the back of a triceratops like they would on the back of an elephant.’ He just had so many detailed ideas, so I started to write them all down and kept a running document of all the ideas that Chris and everyone else on set had mentioned over the course of the two films. And after we finished Fallen Kingdom, I sent the document to Colin, and after reading the script for Dominion, it seemed like some of the ideas had been sprinkled throughout. And, who knows if these ideas had already been percolating or not, but either way, it felt extremely collaborative seeing the final script come together. It’s a tremendous privilege to be included in that process as an actor.”
Very early on in the making of Jurassic World, Dallas Howard knew that there was a real partnership between her and Pratt. “There’s a chemistry that goes beyond the characters and throughout the process, we’ve really had a shared vision for what was possible for the story and for our characters,” Dallas Howard says. “And we’ve just had so much fun together. I always say that of course we’re great partners because I have the loudest laugh in the world and Chris is one of the funniest people on the planet.”
Something that Dallas Howard has appreciated about working on the Jurassic World franchise is that it’s very pro-female. “If you think about it, when it started, all the dinosaurs were females,” Dallas Howard says. “They’re the idealization of female strength and power. In nature, the fiercest animal, by far, is a mother. You will not meet a fiercer animal of any species than a mother protecting their young. And that’s what we get to see in this movie.”
Trevorrow adds: “Claire’s drive to protect her daughter is the emotional core of the movie. Screenwriters create high stakes for a living—we tell you the world’s going to end and that’s why you’re supposed to care. But to see what a mother will do to protect her child is something that runs deeper than anything we could make up.”
Dr. Ellie Sattler
Almost thirty years after audiences were first introduced to Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park, Laura Dern returns to the role of the iconic paleobotanist. “Colin had hinted something to me about my character returning, and Steven Spielberg called me more formally to ask how I would feel about the idea of Ellie Sattler returning to the franchise along with a couple of her buddies,” Dern says. “I was really excited by the idea. I think we all wanted her to return with a new sense of self and to have advanced in her life and in her work. I admired Colin and his passion for the franchise and he, Steven and Frank Marshall were all very protective about Ellie, Alan and Ian and the way that they were brought back, which made me particularly interested.”
Ellie is also joined by Jurassic Park legacy characters Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) and Dr. Alan Grant (Sam Neill). Malcolm is giving a lecture at Biosyn when Alan and Ellie come across him. “When we meet Ellie in Dominion, she has taken all of her studies as a paleobotanist and shifted her focus to climate change as a soil scientist,” Dern says. “She discovers that there are swarms of locusts that are decimating crops across the U.S., which leads her to get a second opinion from the brilliant paleontologist, Alan Grant. After Sam, Jeff and I shot our first scene together on this film, Colin sent a photo of us three on the monitor to Steven Spielberg. Then I got a text from Steven that it had brought a tear to his eyes to see us all back together. It was so special.”
Because the film was made during the COVID-19 pandemic, the cast was all housed under the roof of one hotel. “That really created a sense of community and family between all of us,” Dern says. “It allowed us to rehearse and to talk through the work of the week on the weekends. And we were able to really consider the storytelling in a more intensified way that we would have otherwise. Usually, you go on location, you have a few dinners together before you start shooting, and that’s it. And on this one, we were together every weekend, had dinner together almost every night, worked out together, went hiking, rode bikes, got to know each other’s families. It was a gift to have that time together and to be able to create that sense of community in a safe and comfortable environment.”
When Dern made Jurassic Park, it was important to her and to director Steven Spielberg that Ellie was a feminist female action hero. Sadly, that wasn’t common at the time that film was made, but Dern is thankful that it’s become more prevalent since then. “It was important for Steven and me to find a balance of femininity, longing, power, irreverence and strength for the character,” Dern says. “And now, in the script for Dominion, we don’t really need to establish that in the character’s description. She’s Ellie Sattler, and immediately, I think people understand that that meant all the things that Steven helped establish for the character in Jurassic Park. It’s exciting that it doesn’t have to be an apologetic description like, ‘She’s adorable, but she’s also strong. She’s feminine, but she’s feisty.’ Instead, she’s a character who’s just like any male character in an action movie. You can pretty much assume she’s going to be badass, complicated, funny and strong. And I think that goes for all of the female characters in Jurassic World. Colin is very determined that his characters are equally human and full of heroism.”
Dr. Ian Malcolm
After returning as Dr. Ian Malcolm for a small part in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, Jeff Goldblum is back as the fan-favorite mathematician, this time, reuniting with his Jurassic World co-stars Laura Dern and Sam Neill. “It turns out that Ian, Ellie and Alan have some unfinished business together—personally, intellectually, environmentally,” Goldblum says. “Their shared destiny and legacy has yet to be fulfilled. They lived through something as a troika that only they can fully and uniquely appreciate. They are forever primally bonded. When we meet them now the air seems to crackle and say, ‘Grand things are ahead but beware…’ Spending time again with Laura and Sam during the shooting—working hard and hanging out—was a heavenly gift. The three of us sang together constantly. It was dreamy and trippy, to be sure!”
In Dominion, Malcolm continues to study chaos theory. “He’s devoted himself to studying, among other things, unintended consequences,” Goldblum says. “He’s realized that life can be wildly unpredictable, which can make for a risky adventure but also a ride that is irresistibly delicious.”
Trevorrow notes the similarities of the perspectives that Goldblum and Malcolm share. “The idea that the fate of humanity rests in the next generation’s hands is something that is important to Jeff Goldblum,” Trevorrow says. “Malcolm is able to articulate the responsibility of genetic power and the danger of holding that in your hands. He’s expressing everything that power represents—that it cannot only cure disease, but it can also cause it. It can protect the food supply but also destroy it. These characters are fighting for the future of our planet and our ability to exist on it. In this story, we’re being threatened in a way that life hasn’t been threatened since these dinosaurs were here the first time. It’s a mad-made ecological disaster that could lead to our extinction.”
As Goldblum puts it, Trevorrow possesses true qualities of leadership. “He’s got great character and deeply rooted principles,” Goldblum says. “He makes it so easy to place your trust in him completely. He wears many beautiful hats—I call him Bartholomew Cubbins! He is so kind, so generous, so collaborative! He always welcomed all of the actors’ ideas—he’s sweet and unflappable—an inspiration of focus and taste—never took a day off! He’s got the Herculean strength of 10 blockbuster directors!”
Dr. Alan Grant
Rounding out the returning legacy cast members is Sam Neill, who returns as paleontologist Dr. Alan Grant. “There were indications about another Jurassic film a long time ago,” Neill says. “I was interested in returning, but I was hesitant because I wanted it to be more than just a cameo. I wanted to make sure to do Alan Grant justice if he were to return. It soon became apparent that Alan’s presence was crucial to the plot, and I became intrigued. The journey to Dominion was quite a ride that I’m glad to have been asked to join.”
Neill was thrilled to be reunited with Dern and Goldblum to shoot Dominion. “We had an enormous amount of fun working on Jurassic Park, and we went through a lot together,” Neill says. “In the early 90s, when we were filming, we had a hurricane that came through Kauai and almost killed us. It destroyed all our sets and we had to return to Los Angeles to complete the film, so our friendships were very much forged in a challenging and trying experience, not unlike the challenges that the world faced in 2020. There we were again, in a natural disaster of sorts and the three of us bonded just as we had before. We all have a great friendship and great humor, which has gotten us through a lot. And they both make me laugh much more than is sensible for a person my age.”
Fans of Jurassic Park may be wondering what the status of Alan and Ellie’s relationship is all of these years later. “Alan may appear gruff and alarming to some, but really, he’s a softy despite his self-protecting instincts,” Neill says. “The reason that Alan and Ellie didn’t work out in Jurassic Park was because she was determined to have children, but Grant had no interest. Ellie wanted to settle down with a roof over her head, but the idea of living in a city or having to drive children to school was a big anathema to Alan because he likes working with his hands and being in the elements. That was the biggest conflict in their relationship. Ellie and Alan meet again in Dominion, which may or may not have a lot to do with how Alan finds himself in jeopardy again. He’s always held a torch for her, and I suspect that his biggest regret was allowing Ellie to slip out of his life. Grant feels guilty because he didn’t handle it well and feels a bit sorry for himself. All this to say that Dr. Ellie Sattler has a great deal to do with why and how Alan Grant finds himself in the line of fire once again.”
So, if he hasn’t been busy with a family, what has Grant been up to since the events of Jurassic Park unfolded? “Alan barely made it out alive in the first trilogy,” Neill says. “After that, he could have turned his back on the world of dinosaurs and tried to live a normal life, became an accountant and perhaps play golf on the weekends. But I don’t think Grant would have ever been happy with that. All he knows and loves is discovery. He loves dinosaurs, and there’s a huge amount of history about them that we still know nothing about. Though he’s dug up a few, Alan knows there’s still so much more to be discovered.”
Trevorrow explains that Neill, Dern and their fellow cast members had a large part in shaping their characters in Dominion. “Laura wrote some lines that her character says in this movie, and Sam wrote some of his,” Trevorrow says. “In our process, moments would naturally come up that articulated something that Emily Carmichael and I were trying to get across…but might not have said it in the way that Laura or Sam could. This movie is a richer experience because each of our actors articulated key ideas in their own style and in their own way.”
Neill appreciated Trevorrow’s directing techniques and his attentiveness. “Not to overstate it, but I’ve kind of fallen in love with Colin,” Neill says. “He has everything you could ask for in a director. His enthusiasm, energy and his boundless optimism was exemplary. He has such a love for the actors, these films and for directing. We first met in Spain in 2019 at the Sitges Film Festival. That’s when I realized that he has this infectious optimism and enthusiasm which filled me with all kinds of hope about how this experience and the film would be.”
Kayla Watts is a former military pilot who is now an ace cargo-pilot-for-hire in a shadowy underworld. She’ll fly anything anywhere, no questions asked. The character is portrayed by DeWanda Wise of Netflix’s She’s Gotta Have It. “Kayla Watts is a new character Emily and I created together, with DeWanda’s help,” Colin Trevorrow says. “I give both of them a lot of credit for defining who this woman is and how she changes over the course of the story. She’s pure adventure, but she’s also a woman who is coming to terms with how dark the world she’s gotten mixed up in actually is and wants a way out. She’s finding her moral compass again, remembering that looking away from something that you know is wrong is not enough. In the context of that, she becomes a part of this family. DeWanda has the rare ability to find real emotional stakes within a character who could otherwise be an action figure. She’s a writer, too. So the three of us were working toward a shared goal from the script stage until the last day of production.”
Wise was grateful to be offered the role of such a strong female action character. “So much of my career has been things that I’ve built and matriculated myself,” Wise says. “When I met Colin and he told me about the story and about Kayla and that he’d love for me to play her, I was so grateful. I remember reading the script for the first time and being completely enthralled in the story and characters. And then I read it a second time and I cried because I thought Kayla was just amazing. I always thought it would be so cool to star in an action movie, but also for my character to have a degree of character development and depth. I always thought it would be the perfect combination if you could layer those elements. And that’s exactly what I saw in Kayla. ‘A dream come true’ is too small a phrase to describe how it all came to be. There are characters that you choose and then there are characters who choose you, and Kayla chose me.”
Kayla comes from a long line of phenomenal and ferocious women. “She always knew that she wanted to be a pilot and to live a life of adventure,” Wise says. “I can’t think of many occupations that strike me as an expression of freedom more than being a pilot does. But flying is something we so often take for granted. When we talk about traveling, it’s thought of as such an inconvenience. But for Kayla, being up in the sky in her plane is her home. To her, there’s nothing more freeing than that. Everything about Kayla is spontaneous and she has the intellectual intelligence and the skills to go wherever she wants at any given moment.”
Kayla is a veteran and is comfortable in the underground market because she’s seen a lot worse. “She’s been through war!” Wise says. “And the market is, interestingly, a place where she can be known, but anonymous at the same time. Everyone knows she’s there, but they might not necessarily know her name. So, in the same way that she has that feeling of freedom when she flies her plane, she feels the same type of freedom of anonymity when she’s at the underground market.”
Screenwriter Emily Carmichael describes these underground sequences with Kayla as having an Indiana Jones-adventure feeling. “Kayla is a loner, a free agent, but with swagger,” Carmichael says. “She comes from a world that’s different from any of the other characters because we meet her in an action-adventure setting…this exciting underground dinosaur marketplace. She makes her living there and is familiar and comfortable with it, which makes her this larger-than-life character of true adventure—in a way that others aren’t, because they’re scientists, animal handlers and operations managers. It was amazing to watch this character unfold with DeWanda Wise.”
While she may seem cynical and mercenary on the surface, Kayla has an unbreakable moral code. At a critical moment, she will become an invaluable ally to Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. “If you train in any branch of the military, you’re going to walk away with many beautiful and noble qualities,” Wise says. “And Kayla has these qualities. She has integrity, heart and honor. But part of what I really responded to in Kayla was that she isn’t perfect. And you witness her grow and grapple with her conscience.”
Ramsay Cole, portrayed by Mamoudou Athie of Netflix’s Archive 81, is the highly educated employee of the powerful biotech company Biosyn. Although Ramsay’s official title is head of communications, the scope of his work expands beyond that. “That title, he soon finds out, covers a wide array of responsibilities because at the same time, he’s being groomed as Lewis Dodgson’s second-in-command,” Athie says. “Biosyn is presented as this think tank with all of these young geniuses working for the advancement of humanity, but at the true core of it, Biosyn is completely motivated by greed and control.”
When Trevorrow first described the role to Athie, he told him that Ramsay was an idealist, which piqued Athie’s interest. “He said Ramsay is battling with the morality of what serves him versus what serves the world at large,” Athie says. “I think the character definitely evolved from that first conversation, though. As we got closer to filming, Ramsay became much more assured in what his mission is from the start.”
Trevorrow was pleased with what the character transformed into. “Mamoudou is a brilliant actor who knows exactly what he needs to believe what he’s doing,” Trevorrow says. “In our search for what motivated him, we developed his character into a linchpin of the story. It was the best place to land and honestly one of those moments that makes you wonder, ‘Why wasn’t this my first instinct?’”
Athie was impressed with his director’s versatility and attention to detail. “Colin is a fascinating director because he knows so much about the camerawork and the animatronics, but also is so great at talking through things with the actors,” Athie says. “And he can flip between those two environments so quickly. For him to have that kind of bandwidth and breadth of knowledge and ability to go back and forth so often was wizard-like.”
Dr. Henry Wu
Dr. Henry Wu is the genetic engineer who was responsible for creating the dinosaurs for Jurassic Park and Jurassic World theme parks. BD Wong portrays the role, which he first stepped into for Jurassic Park, and again for Jurassic World and Jurassic World: Dominion. “It’s a very strange feeling being back here 30 years after the first film,” Wong says. “There were some loose ends that were never tied in Dr. Wu’s story at the end of Jurassic Park, so when Colin looked back at the original film for characters to repurpose for Jurassic World, that character was one that hadn’t been fully resolved. I was thrilled to come back to the franchise for this new trilogy.”
When Wong first read the script and saw that it brought back the legacy cast alongside Chris and Bryce, he thought it might be too much. “That’s like stuffing a sausage with way too much meat,” Wong says. “It’s delicious, but it’s going to explode. But then I thought about the fans and realized, ‘Oh, my gosh, they’re just going to, as we say in New York, plotz.’ It’s an embarrassment of riches and I just know it’s something that fans are going to love to see.”
When we meet Dr. Wu in Dominion, he’s now working for Biosyn. “Dr. Wu is a scientist, which is kind of like being an artist in a corporate environment,” Wong says. “And that corporate environment is mandating his actions and his work. He’s kind of a pawn in this corporate situation where he’s been made to do certain things which end up wreaking havoc on the world and causing harm. This movie examines the phenomenon of corporation versus science. One thing that’s clear about Dr. Wu is his passion for science. And I think in parentheses next to that passion he has for science is this idea that looking past the morals behind his current work, there’s a greater good to it. And these things help him justify his work.”
Wong continues: “With a character like Wu who is already known by fans, the goal was to reintroduce a different version of him so that viewers can understand, visually, that a lot of time has passed since he was working in the Lockwood Lab. And that came down to the hair, makeup and wardrobe. Colin had asked me years ago to not cut my hair—presumably because he had a plan for this character to slowly become a little less tightly put together as time has passed.”
What interested Trevorrow about the character was that he seems to always be reaching for something that the audience can’t quite understand. “He’s been experimenting with genetic power in ways that have gotten people hurt, ways that have caused disasters,” Trevorrow says. “That weighs on him heavily, and BD plays his character in a downtrodden, weathered way—it was great to be able to bring out another side of him. But we want to believe that Dr. Wu has done all this for a reason, and in this story that rationale is revealed. Way deep down, this is about Henry Wu’s belief that science can do more good than harm.”
Audiences were introduced to Barry Sembenè, played by Omar Sy, in Jurassic World. The character trained the dinosaurs of Jurassic World alongside Owen Grady. When Trevorrow was initially explaining the character for Jurassic World, he explained that he was a character that not only worked with the dinosaurs but acted almost as if he’s raising them as pets. “I had lunch with Colin, and he was working on the Jurassic World franchise,” Sy says. “He said he had a part for me, and I was completely new in town, so I was excited to be able to work on the next trilogy of the Jurassic Park franchise. He said he wanted Barry to have a special relationship with the dinosaurs as if he was educating them, raising them, caring for them and feeding them. It was interesting to play this type of character who has a connection and bond with these special animals. And Colin gave me a lot of confidence to act in English, which is still a big deal for me.”
Now, years later, Sy was excited to step back into Barry’s shoes for a role in Dominion. “It was great to come back after all these years and work with the same people,” Sy says. “It brought back a lot of good memories and feelings. Everyone is still just as hard-working. I’m always impressed by the way they all work. Bryce, Chris and Colin are all very focused, and they know exactly what they’re doing. Watching them on set is almost like a masterclass because I’m constantly learning. I came in the middle of the shoot for a short amount of time, and it was like I had been with them for a long time. They made me feel very welcome.”
Sy was a teenager when he first saw Jurassic Park. “It was so amazing to see,” Sy says. “It was like seeing dinosaurs for real, for the first time. That’s why I was so awestruck and moved to be in Jurassic World. There are a lot of things that we can’t see on set that I’m excited to see in the film. I can’t wait to see how the dinosaurs are going to act, what they’ll look like, how they’ll move. I mean, you know they’re going to look real, of course, but to see every element of the dinosaurs put together—I can’t wait to see that.”
Isabella Sermon plays Maisie Lockwood, the now pre-teen girl who lives with Owen and Claire. Sermon portrayed the character in her first ever film role in Fallen Kingdom, in which we learn that Maisie is a genetic clone of Sir Benjamin Lockwood’s daughter. Now that Maisie’s identity has been revealed, Owen and Claire feel they need to keep her hidden away for protection. “She’s not allowed to have a lot of contact with the outside world because Owen and Claire are afraid someone will take her away to use her for scientific experiments,” Sermon says. “She can go outside, but the rule is that she can’t go beyond the house bridge. And like a lot of teenagers, she’s at an age that if she’s specifically told not to do something, she decides to do it anyways.”
Sermon found that it was very different to come back to set for Dominion with a few years having gone by. “Fallen Kingdom was the first time I’d acted, so everything was very magical to me, but I was also a bit dazed by everything,” Sermon says. “So, this time around, it was nice to come back and to work with the same people, and even though it was still magical, there was so much more that I noticed. There was always something new to learn or discover about the character or about acting.”
Her on-screen parents, Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, were impressed by her maturity and flexibility on set. “Of course, there were many days where we spent the majority of the time running, sprinting or doing fight choreography,” Pratt says. “But then we had other days that were very nuanced and character driven scenes. One scene that stuck out to me was a scene that I had with Izzy sitting around a fire. It was amazing to watch and to learn what kind of actor she is. She was only 14 years old at the time, but she was so present in the moment and so versatile, doing each take a little bit differently each time.”
Dallas Howard adds: “I have two kids, and my oldest is about seven months younger than Izzy, but that’s so bizarre for me because to me, Izzy is just, like, my peer. She’s my co-worker. It’s just amazing to me how incredibly professional, present, mature and lovely she is.”
When Maisie was introduced in Fallen Kingdom, audiences may not have known her significance. “Maisie brings the legacy characters together with those from Jurassic World,” Trevorrow says. “She represents something that is bigger than either of their individual stories. To me, Maisie gives us empathy for how displaced these dinosaurs are in so many ways. They existed once before, and now they exist again. They’re not in the time that they were meant to be in. That was something that Emily and I used as a foundation for building out her story—the identity crisis inherent in that. This girl is discovering not just who she is in the literal sense, but what her place in this world is going to be.”
Having female role models is important for Sermon as an actor and also for Maisie’s character. “Maisie has grown up with Claire as a mother figure, who has shown Maisie what it’s like to be a strong, fierce, independent woman,” Sermon says. “And there’s also Ellie who’s so intellectual, clever and powerful and now Kayla who’s fierce and tough. It’s so great that not only Maisie has those influences, but also that I do as an actor and that I’ve been able to work with such strong, independent women.”
Lewis Dodgson is the CEO of Biosyn and is portrayed by Campbell Scott of The Amazing Spider-Man 2. In 1993’s Jurassic Park he conspired with Dennis Nedry to smuggle dinosaur embryos out of the park in a Barbasol can. “Dodgson had a much bigger presence in the books than he did in Jurassic Park,” Scott says. “And even though the story that the character follows in the books is different from Dominion, I wanted to bring some of the elements that Crichton put into the character to the screen. Dodgson and Biosyn operate on a rather shady level. He’ll stop at nothing to get information from wherever he can. But, like almost every villain, Dodgson doesn’t think he’s a villain. In a way, I think Dodgson started out with a bit of a stunted personality, but he was talented at utilizing technology for science. And when he got a taste of what power and money could get him, he started to morph into that person. In the books, there are moments where Dodgson is just a plain sociopath, but it’s not as much fun to play a plain sociopath. It’s much more interesting to play a sociopath who has a lot of depth and has interesting intentions behind their actions.”
Dodgson is someone who considers any negative side effects of his actions to be mere setbacks. “Campbell Scott’s performance is so nuanced, rich, deep and weird,” Trevorrow says. “He found this way to create a character that feels like a bit of a hybrid of characters we know in the real world…but is still his own nasty dude. As you realize how awful he is, hopefully, you’ll be rooting for his comeuppance…should it happen.”
Scott thought that it helped immensely that the cast all lived together during production. “Coming from a theater background, I’m used to spending a lot of time behind scenes with fellow cast mates,” Scott says. “For Dominion, we all lived in a hotel together due to COVID, which allowed us to simply hang out, have dinners together, rehearse and just do things we wouldn’t normally do together on a film production. And Colin was absolutely working with the actors the entire time, in any chance he could get. It made all the difference in the world, especially for a film of this size and scope.”
Soyona Santos is a mysterious woman who is the link between Biosyn and the underground world of dinosaur smuggling, but her intentions are unknown. The character is portrayed by Dichen Lachman, who was recently seen in Apple TV+’s Severence. “When Colin first described Soyona to me, he said she’s a badass who’s at the top of her game,” Lachman says. “He said she doesn’t need to get her hands dirty because she has other people who do that for her. After I got the part, I wrote a long backstory for the character about how she got where she is, and from there, the character evolved into what she is in the film. It was fun for me to be able to help build and flesh out the character a little bit, even if the audience doesn’t necessarily see all of that.”
Lachman continues: “Soyona is definitely motivated by money and power,” Lachman says. “She’s tough, strong and determined. At the end of the day, she just wants to get the job done. There’s also a lot of ambiguity to the character. She’s given tasks, but otherwise, she’s a bit mysterious.”
Animatronics supervisor JOHN NOLAN and his creature effects team of designers created 27 individual dinosaurs for the film, 10 of which had never been seen in any of the previous Jurassic films.
Blue has always been the leader of her pack, but this time she is leading, teaching and protecting one of her own to adapt and survive in an environment even more dangerous than anything Blue encountered in the jungles on Isla Nublar. When Beta, Blue’s identical genetic clone, is threatened by nefarious dinosaur poachers, Blue springs into action to protect her young. No one is safe from Blue if Beta is in danger. Not even Owen Grady can trust the bond he has with Blue if she believes he is a threat.
A 4-foot baby raptor, Beta is the mirror image and identical clone of her mother, Blue. Quick and alert, but still a bit clumsy on her floppy legs, Beta learns how to hunt and survive in the snowy hills of Sierra Nevada, where she also finds a new ally in 13-year-old Maisie who’s being raised nearby by Owen Grady and Claire Dearing. Despite the seemingly serene and tranquil surroundings, Beta quickly learns that this environment is more threatening than it appears when she becomes the target of a nefarious hunt, with implications far beyond just her own life.
The ultimate apex predator is back, and once again the T.rex proves that she never backs down from a fight. Even when challenged to battle against two massive new species, including one of the fiercest predators she has ever faced, the T.rex refuses to go down without a fight as she defends her title as the greatest carnivore of all time.
Not seen since the original Jurassic Park, when she attacked Dennis Nedry as he was trying to steal dinosaur embryos from Isla Nublar, the Dilophosaurus returns to the franchise with a vengeance in Jurassic World Dominion. The Dilophosaurus is a theropod from the Early Jurassic period whose name means “double-crested lizard,” a reference to the brilliant-colored crest that flanks its head. The version of the Dilophosaurus created for the Jurassic films stands only four-feet high, but her small stature doesn’t make her any less lethal than other carnivores in Biosyn Valley. With lithe serpentine movements and a seemingly playful spirit, the Dilophosaurus may even appear as if it’s smiling as it stalks its prey. But in an instant, this deadly predator can pop up and snap open its vibrant colored neck frill, as it hisses and spits a deadly black venom at its victim.
A theropod that lived during the Late Cretaceous period, the Giganotosaurus is the largest known terrestrial carnivore. This massive apex predator lives up to its name, which means “giant southern lizard.” Larger than a Tyrannosaurus rex, it weighs in at up to 30,000 pounds, measures approximately 43 feet in length and can reach speeds of up to 30 mph. An enormous sharp-backboned killer, the Giganotosaurus is the most formidable threat to everyone and everything in the Biosyn Valley, even to the T. rex itself. With its warpaint-like hide, massive size and strength, the Giganotosaurus is unstoppable and destroys everything in its path.
Therizinosaurus, whose name means “scythe lizard,” is a theropod herbivore that lived in the Cretaceous period. Sporting a twenty-foot-long neck and gigantic razor-sharp claws the size of baseball bats, her three claws on each front limb are estimated to be three feet long—the longest of any known animal. This grey-and-black feathered dinosaur is estimated to be approximately 33 feet in length, and it can weigh up to 11,000 pounds. Luckily, you’ll probably hear it before you see it: Its distinctive hissing and screeching echoes throughout Biosyn Valley. Despite being an herbivore, the Therizinosaurus’ ability to slash through almost anything makes her a true threat to any potential predator.
Named after the Aztec feathered serpent god, the Quetzalcoatlus is a pterosaur from the Late Cretaceous period and is one of the biggest known flying animals of all time. Roughly the size of a Cessna plane, it is from the Azhdarchidae family of advanced toothless pterosaurs, which have unusually long, stiffened necks. With a massive wingspan of approximately 36 feet and weighing up to 400 pounds, this gigantic creature commands the skies over Biosyn Valley.
Watch your back, Blue. There’s a new raptor pack in town. The Atrociraptors, whose name means “savage robber,” are a fierce pack of four carnivores from the Cretaceous period. Slightly larger than the Velociraptor but equally as deadly, the Atrociraptor is approximately six-feet, six-inches tall and weighs roughly thirty-three pounds. These sleek, deadly thoroughbreds are trained to kill by scent, have been modified for speed, and are trained to attack wherever their human alpha commands them to—the dangerous result of Owen Grady and Barry Sembenè’s research in the first Jurassic World. The four lethal predators – Ghost, Stripe, Tiger and Red – are named for their distinctive colored stripes. These inescapable predators are poised to kill on command … even if the targets are Owen Grady and Claire Dearing.
The Pyroraptor, whose name means “fire thief,” is a gorgeous and terrifying fire-red feathered dinosaur from the Late Cretaceous period. A small, bird-like theropod with enlarged curved claws on the second toe of each foot, the Pryroraptor is estimated to be eight-feet long and weigh approximately seventy-seven pounds. Fully covered in bright red feathers, the Pyroraptor stalks its prey throughout the varied terrain and climates of Biosyn Valley. From the dense jungle to the snow-covered mountains, its stealth movements enable this deadly predator the ability to hunt its target even from underneath the icy waters of a frozen lake, waiting for its victims to fall through the cracking ice above.
The Dimetrodon, whose name means “two measures of teeth,” is a low-to-the-ground, crocodile-like reptile with a huge frilled back fin that’s three times its own height. Most Dimetrodon species ranged in from six to fifteen feet in length and are estimated to have weighed between 60 to 550 pounds. Its ear-piercing loud screech and shrieks are almost deafening as it stalks our heroes deep in the underground amber mines in the Biosyn Valley.
The Lystrosaurus, whose name means “shovel lizard,” is roughly the size of a pig with a face that is reminiscent of a fierce bulldog. With a pair of sharp tusk-like teeth, and forelimbs that are believed to be even more robust than its hindlegs, this heavily built herbivore packs more power than you may think at first glance. A fierce competitor in the underground market, the Lystrosaurus can often defeat its opponent with one swift chomp.
- Juvenile Nasutoceratops
- Oviraptor (New)
- Juvenile Baryonyx: a cousin of Spinosaurus. Baryonyx was a fierce and nasty predator, with sharp teeth, but it preferred to dine on fish.
- Parasaurolophus: a duckbilled plant-eater, a gentle giant. It’s one of the few dinosaurs where scientists have a good idea of what noises it made: low-pitched bellows that resemble a tuba.
- Dreadnoughtus (New): Dreadnoughtus was an enormous, long-necked, potbelly dinosaur that ate plants. A cousin of Brachiosaurus, Dreadnoughtus would have weighed as much as a Boeing 737 aircraft.
- Microceratus (New)
- Juvenile Stigymoloch
- Juvenile Carnotaurus
- Moros intrepidus (New)
- Iguanodon (New)
Dinosaur Creation and Background
- STEPHEN BRUSATTE, who served as the film’s paleontologist consultant, is a professor at the University of Edinburgh. Every dinosaur in the film existed in real life and was approved by Brusatte.
- The inclusion of animatronic creatures was Trevorrow’s goal from the outset and more importantly, he wanted to work with people who shared his passion for dinosaurs. In his first meeting with animatronics supervisor JOHN NOLAN, he asked one key question: ‘do you like dinosaurs’? And that was it. Uber-fan Nolan soon landed his dream job.
- Once Trevorrow determined that he wanted the dinosaurs in the third film to be as accurate as possible, he and the design team peppered Brusatte about the dinosaurs’ behavior, posture, environment, and whether some of them might have feathers, like the pyrorapter, a nasty, ferocious predator.
- The only dinosaur characters that needed to look a certain way because of their previous appearances in the franchise were the T.rex and the Dilophosaurus. With the other characters, designers were free to make a clean break from the creatures of the previous films because dinosaur scholarship has advanced so much since then.
- The Dilophosaurus is the only dinosaur that audiences will see on screen entirely as a practical creature. There was no partial or full visual effect double or replacement.
- This is the first Jurassic film where you see a practically made dinosaur, the Dilophosaurus, physically walk, thanks to the puppeteering of 11-12 people.
- To recreate the Dilophosaurus’ sticky projectile spit from Jurassic Park, technicians used a mixture that included Ultra Slime, cake, food coloring, water, and a thickening agent called methylcellulose that is often used in fast-food milkshakes.
- The very first fossil dinosaur skeletons with feathers surrounding them were found in China in 1996. Two species of Tyrannosaur have been discovered with feathers, and Brusatte thinks it’s only a matter of time before a preserved T.rex with feathers is uncovered. Trevorrow told his design team in early meetings that the hook for the third Jurassic film would be feathered dinosaurs.
- Real dinosaurs were not dimwitted, slow-moving, drab-colored lizards; they were much more energetic, intelligent, colorful, and birdlike. That’s the image that comes across in the new film.
- Real dinosaurs were vibrant in color. Some had white, brown, black, red feathers. Some had iridescent feathers, so they shined in the sun like a crow. Some had camouflage patterns or shaded patterns on their body. Some had rings on their tails like a raccoon.
- Any disparity between how dinosaurs really were and how they look in the Jurassic films occurs because, in the films, scientists used pieces of contemporary animal DNA (like frogs) to fill the gaps that were missing in the dinosaur DNA.
- One of the new behind-the-scenes developments on the creation of the dinosaurs was the use of silicon, which gives their skin a life-like translucency and is perfect for securing feathers or hair.
- At first, John Nolan’s team just built a pyroraptor head so that Industrial Light & Magic artists could get an idea of how a feathered creature would look and move. But Trevorrow was so impressed by Nolan’s work that they ended up building a fully animatronic pyroraptor head with dilated pupils that could appear in the film.
- Fully animatronic locusts were built that were 30 inches long.
Filming During a Pandemic
When director Colin Trevorrow, producer Patrick Crowley and executive producer Alexandra Derbyshire packed their bags to begin production on Dominion in British Columbia, Canada, in February 2020 they had no idea that a little-known virus called Covid-19 was to have such imminent and global impact, and indeed cause production to come to a sudden halt. Principal photography commenced for just under two weeks as scheduled, but veteran producer Patrick Crowley suspected that things were about to get very real. “Just before we went to Canada, I was sitting with a couple of the other people who were in charge of the production, and I said, ‘I’m really nervous about this thing in China; I think it could really impact us,’” Crowley says. “I just somehow had this sixth sense that this was going to be a lot bigger than it appeared to be at the time.”
Production continued in early March in the United Kingdom, but almost overnight the true nature of the pandemic began to take hold. Within days, Frank Marshall, Crowley and Derbyshire found themselves on the telephone with Universal discussing ‘what ifs’ and the very real question of how they would get the American cast back home if suddenly the borders were shut. On the 13th day filming, on Friday the 13th of March, while Trevorrow was filming a scene where Bryce Dallas Howard’s Claire Dearing helps rescues a baby Nasutoceratops, Derbyshire received a text asking her and Crowley and Trevorrow to call the studio immediately. “We had just had the best week,” Derbyshire says, “and I went on set and said to Colin we need to call the studio now. He said, ‘Sure, when we wrap at the end of the night,’ and I replied, ‘No, we have to call them now I’m afraid.’ And we went and sat in my unit car and Pat, Colin and I called the studio and were told, ‘I’m sorry, but you need to stop.’” Everything halted.
“It was just so surreal,” Crowley says. “We were such a well-organized and tight machine and moving so quickly, that it felt as if the rug was being pulled from under us. It was so disheartening for so many people, but, of course, the safety of our cast and crew had to come first.”
By Monday the cast had been evacuated back to the US, but the producers had no idea how long the shutdown was going to last. “We may have been down for as little as two weeks and so you have to make really smart decisions how you close things down,” Crowley says. “For instance, you have to keep the lab open that’s processing the film as we didn’t want their chemicals to change.”
It wouldn’t be until Monday July 6, nearly four months later, that filming was able to resume at Pinewood Studios outside London, and it was only because of an unprecedented COVID-protocol plan, created by the filmmakers, that Dominion became the first major studio production to begin filming again. The protocols they created soon become the industry gold-standard, allowing productions across the industry to get back to work.
Marshall, Crowley and Derbyshire didn’t waste a moment in preparing for their return. Alongside production manager TIM WELLSPRING they worked day and night on a 109-page COVID-protocol manual, partnering with DR RICCARDO DI CUFFA and YourDoctor to devise it. “No doctor can guarantee that no one’s going to get COVID-19 on the production” Di Cuffa says. “But the important thing was to be able to identify those individuals quickly and have a procedure by which we could isolate them and trace contacts so that we could quickly minimize any risk of spread. We literally spent hours on phones and Zoom calls and emails working through every possible scenario on how best to deal with a positive result”.
Those calls included extensive discussions with the cast, their agents, unions, doctors etc. The system they created was impressive and would quickly become the blueprint for every other production that followed.
The protocols required the crew of around 700 people to walk through an airport- style temperature check every morning. Each would be given a wrist band and divided into various departmental zones. Green Zone crew were the only ones with access to the working set and were COVID tested three times a week. In addition, there were hand sanitizers and wash basins everywhere. The cast were further segregated, as they had to be on-camera without masks, and every area they needed to be in were further sanitized with foggers. Social distancing became the new norm, and everyone, with the exception of the cast, wore face masks from the moment they entered the lot. This was long before it became a national mandate. About 100 people were employed to do nothing but wipe down handles and clean sinks and communal areas over and over again on a daily basis.
Because of these protocols the production was able to continue, and the film wrapped production in early November 2020.
- Cinematographer JOHN SCHWARTZMAN previously worked with Trevorrow on Jurassic World and The Book of Henry.
- Jurassic World was shot entirely on film, but Jurassic World Dominion was shot on 35mm and 65mm film, with some night scenes shot digitally to allow the VFX more latitude in their work.
- However, there was one homage to days gone by that Schwartzman and Trevorrow were keen to honour, and that was the legacy of the Panavision camera used in the original Jurassic Park. Schwartzman used the camera on Jurassic World and now, again used it for Jurassic World Dominion. The camera still works perfectly today and it goes to show how robust and beautifully these cameras are.
- The Valletta chase sequence is extremely complex, and the production used as many as nine cameras filming at once to capture what they needed—especially because the main actors did not film these scenes and their faces needed to be added digitally.
- Using a special camera rig nicknamed “Dorothy” that includes 69 cameras and about 40 lights, technicians captured the actors’ emotions with high-res facial scanning that is downloaded and manipulated for CG action.
The Locations and Production Design
- Locations were preferred over sets, and sets were preferred over blue screen. In fact, CGI was only to be used where it was absolutely necessary. To put it into perspective, Jurassic World featured an impressive 50 sets, while Jurassic World Dominion boasts 112.
- Trevorrow’s ambition was to take the story to places never before seen in a Jurassic film. Each setting—the Pacific Northwest, West Texas, Utah, San Francisco, Malta and the Dolomite Mountains—has its own style and look. For example, they shot in the Pacific Northwest during the winter so they did not have to fake the cold and snow.
- This is the first time where Malta is being used as a movie location where the island nation is not doubling for another location.
- Malta is a common blockbuster film location, but it’s often selected as a stand-in for other locals or different centuries. Trevorrow, however, wanted to feature Malta as modern Malta, especially after he saw the city of Valletta’s beauty and potential as the center of an action set-piece. The action scene where the raptors are released from their cages and they pursue Claire and Owen through the city was conceived and designed to take place in and near the square near Il-Berga ta’ Kastilja.
- The only Jurassic scene set in Malta where Malta is doubling for another place is filmed in Mellieha, which is doubling for Utah.
- The production needed to be careful because Malta’s city of Valletta boasts an UNESCO World Heritage site.
- Some of the rooftop chase scenes in Valletta were set atop the Malta Maritime Museum.
- With one exception (the breakout in San Diego in The Lost World), all the dinosaur action in previous films has taken place in remote, controlled locations, like a theme park or an island. This is the first film where the dinosaurs are no longer contained.
- The cold, snowy scenes set in the Sierra Nevadas, where Owen and Claire are living with Maisie, were filmed in British Columbia, Canada.
- For the first dinosaur scenes with Owen, filmed in the snow in British Columbia, production designer Kevin Jenkins was influenced by classic ‘60s and ‘70s westerns that were set in wintry tundra; and the 1969 Ray Harryhausen movie, Valley of the Gwangi, which features cowboys and dinosaurs.
- Other scenes at Owen and Claire’s cabin and scenes of the bus that houses several creatures were filmed in the Winterfold Forest in Surrey, England. The forest sets needed to resemble the film footage that had previously been shot in British Columbia. But those scenes in British Columbia had been filmed to resemble the Sierra Nevada range, so Winterfold’s sets needed to mimic one location mimicking another.
- In Kayla’s C-119 plane, in addition to the flux capacitor, designers decorated the cockpit with eight-tracks, Pink Floyd albums and stickers from all of her journeys. A miniature C-119, with a wingspan of 28 feet, was purchased and used for exterior shots.
- For scenes at Biosyn’s headquarters, Trevorrow pushed to film at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government’s dazzling new building. While at Oxford, they also used a lecture hall at Wolfson College for the setting to reintroduce Dr. Ian Malcolm. Both colleges had not allowed movie productions to film there before.
- The underground market was filmed at Pinewood Studios, and Jenkins gave it a roof that was inspired by a Bavarian castle, with pillars and walls covered in Maltese signs and paintings, with some dating back to World War II and the Napoleon era. His goal was to reflect all the different aspects of the history of Malta.
- As with many sets designed by Jenkins, eagle-eyed fans should look out for little moments or homages to other films. In case of the dinosaur fighting pit at the underground market, there is a certain hat placed on the edge that bears a striking resemblance to that worn by Indiana Jones.
- In previous Jurassic films there were the Jeeps and in the Jurassic World films there was the Gyrosphere, and now in Jurassic World Dominion, we have the Hyperloop, which is the transportation system at Biosyn. Jenkins and his team spent a great deal of time researching transportation links in existing high-end global corporations when creating the Hyperloop.
The Visual Effects
- The simplest way of understanding when visual effects takes over from animatronics is looking at how much an animal moves across the terrain. For instance, it was decided that Owen’s raptor Blue would be entirely digital because she’s constantly on the move, but her child Beta was created using animatronics, a puppet and also digital effects.
- For the Valletta action sequences, the entire cityscape is documented by LiDar scanning so that the entire environment can be recreated digitally in 3-D. The CG dinosaurs can then be inserted into the action.
- There is a natural competition between digital effects and physical effects disciplines, but VFX supervisor DAVID VICKERY would like to bring them together: making animatronic dinosaurs that are so convincing that audiences think they’re digital effects AND digital dinosaurs that are so realistic that people think they’re puppets.
- Trevorrow wanted to ensure that the VFX creatures with which audiences were already familiar felt as close as possible to those created by Stan Winston and the original ILM team nearly 30 years ago.
One of the first things the VFX team did was their own version of digital archaeology, by going back into the Universal archives and sourcing as many of the original models from previous films as possible. They found the T. rex from Jurassic Park, the Pteranodon models from The Lost World and many more.