When Jurassic Park first roared into movie theatres

The dystopian dinosaur film seemed poised to be a boon for toy retailers in 1993.

‘It was a horror film,’ said nine-year-old who caught a preview

Chris Pratt unveils a life-sized Lego Jurassic World Dominion T. Rex sculpture made of over 200,000 Lego bricks on Thursday, May 5, 2022. (Jason DeCrow/Invision for NBCUniversal and Lego/AP Images)

Michael Crichton's bestselling 1990 dystopian dinosaur novel, Jurassic Park, has inspired six movies (and the name of an NBA basketball team) over 29 years.

The latest instalment is 2022's Jurassic World: Dominion, in which actors Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum reprise their roles in the original 1993 film. 

"Audiences smell a box office smash," said the CBC's David Gilmour on Prime Time News on June 11, 1993, the day Jurassic Park roared into movie theatres. Crowds were lining up to see it.

But the reaction of nine-year-old Jacob Lipsey, who had seen the movie during a preview, seemed to make Gilmour reluctant to predict it would be a hit across all audiences.

'It was scary'

Massive movie with monster merchandising

29 years ago
Duration 3:15
There was a big push in toys and trinkets when the movie Jurassic Park came out in 1993, but it wasn't necessarily kid-friendly.

Lipsey described Jurassic Park as "a horror film" that was far from the "little child's movie" he'd been expecting.

"It was scary. I was scared," he said.

That was why despite the "avalanche" of branded toys, trinkets and games already in stores, Gilmour hesitated to predict Jurassic Park would be a smash with kids.

Business journalist Patricia Best said the promotional tie-in with a fast-food chain sent a "mixed message" about the movie.

"McDonald's says it's aimed at adults," she said. "I don't know about you, but I'm not interested in a reusable dinosaur cup."

She didn't think Jurassic Park was appropriate for kids, in contrast with the kid-friendly marketing of its associated products.

"The movie is a violent movie. It's a gory movie about killing," she said.   

By December 1993, Jurassic Park had become the highest-grossing movie ever according to a report from Reuters.

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