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Why was Jurassic World Dominionsuch a flop?

By Thomas Giblin (he/him)

Behold, "Cinema is back!" as Jurrasic Universe Nazi Raptors graces the silver screen. The reanimated corpse of Sam Neil swings a katana as he fights off the forces of evil to save humanity for the umpteenth time. Chris Pratt (now wheelchair-bound) insists on doing his signature constipated blue steel look as he saves the day. The 55th instalment in the expanded Jurassic Park universe is a box-office hit. Sequels are getting so ridiculous, that this premise wouldn't be a shocking departure for a franchise desperate for ideas. The Fast & Furious sent a car to space, remember? However, sequels have always been a part of cinema. It all started with The Fall of The Nation (1916), a sequel to the racist epic The Birth of a Nation (1915). Now it seems that we’re at a point where seemingly every film is a pastiche. Nine of the top-ten grossing films at the American domestic box office in 2022 are either a sequel or reboot.

Sequels in their infancy reused sets, locations, costumes and props to save money. Now with rising production, distribution and marketing costs, sequels like Fast & Furious 9, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, Minions: Rise of the Guru and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever are seen as 'safe' bets. Risk-averse studios know that audiences will eat up anything churned out under these franchises, so why would they bother to make anything original? Yes, studios are still making original films, but more often than not, a 'new' film is yet another sequel or reboot.

This lust for sequels leads us to Jurrasic World Dominion, the third film in the Jurassic World universe. The film was hugely successful if we consider the $998.1 million gross it made at the box office. But what is success when art is reduced to such a precise formula? Jurrasic World Dominion and its obsession with legacy signals a franchise void of new ideas, as it attempts to bring the 'dead' back to life. The film is "so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn't stop to think if they should" as they crowbar Ian, Ellie and Alan into the film. There is comfort in these familiar faces returning to a beloved franchise, as audiences often succumb to the collective cinematic fantasies of the past. However, these same faces are subject to the same destructive capitalistic tendencies that birthed the Jurassic World films.

Instead of this new trilogy being exciting and new, it is regressing into the comforts of nostalgia where there is little space for original ideas. Thankfully Jurrasic World Dominion is billed as "The Epic Conclusion of the Jurassic Era" and I do hope this is the case. But when a film makes $998.1 million, you do not say goodbye to your cash cow.


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