65 million fans in the making
You may think you know what the ‘Jurassic World: Live Tour’ is, but you don’t (I know I didn’t). We went behind the scenes yesterday, survived dinosaur encounters, and are thrilled to share the tale.
Stepping in to a soundstage from the busy streets of a city, the sounds of the excited chatter of a crowd greet our team, interlaced with occasional dinosaur roars. Our journey for a sneak peak at the latest Jurassic World adventure has taken us not to Isla Nublar, but rather Root Studios in New York City. Feld Entertainment and everyone involved with the ‘Jurassic World: Live Tour’ excitedly greeted us, eager to lift the veil off this exciting new story within the expanded Jurassic universe.
First thing first. Let’s address the elephant – or rather, the dinosaur – in the room. The Tyrannosaurus Rex used in the shows promo imagery, which fans immediately pointed out was inaccurate, was placeholder. The iconic star of Jurassic Park and Jurassic World is currently being worked on by numerous talented artists, and she will be accurate to the design we know and love from the films. As the animatronic is currently under construction, another large Tyrannosaur (originally crafted for Walking with Dinosaurs) was swapped in. Stay tuned for the true reveal of 43 foot full animatronic, which will surely steal the show both awing and terrifying audiences.
So, what is the show? The ‘Jurassic World: Live Tour’ is a touring arena spectacular of epic proportions making its world premiere this Fall – but that much you probably know. What you perhaps don’t know are the burning questions, such as what is the story, and is it canon? I entered the event believing I understood what this show was, and was ultimately surprised in the best possible ways by how little I knew. The story spans a block of time, opening just before the downfall of Jurassic World, and we soon witness the rampage of the escaped Indominus Rex from all new perspectives – and that’s only the beginning.
Our main character is Kate Walker (played by Madison Embrey), a Jurassic World scientist who is working to better understand the emotions and feelings of dinosaurs. To do this, she is working with a Troodon – the smartest Jurassic species yet – named Jeanie and a-all-new piece of proprietary tech called the “Dino-Decoder”. The “Dino-Decoder’s” goal is to better understand and predict the emotions of dinosaurs, much like Owen Grady’s goal was to understand and predict their behavior. However, her research comes to a terrifying halt as the Indominus Rex escapes its paddock and the park is thrust into chaos. The audience follows this pandemonium from Kate’s perspective, showing the events on parts of the island we never saw being terrorized by the hazardous hybrid.
You know what happens. The park falls, is evacuated, and abandoned. Flash forward.
A few months after the fall of Jurassic World, our heroes find themselves in New York City dealing with a surprise: Jeanie is still alive. This thrusts them on a quest – perhaps to finish their research, or simply relocate the animal – and uncovers a dangerous conspiracy. InGen hasn’t given up on weaponizing dinosaurs, and they are very interested in Kate’s “Dino-Decoder” and of course, the Troodon. Here comes the curveball which excites me the most – the adventure then moves to a desert in Chile, featuring a secretive and remote InGen facility (some may even call it a ‘Jurassic Outpost’).
This facility has a grim purpose – it houses dinosaurs off of the security of Isla Nublar, and is dedicated to continuing Vic Hoskins IBRIS program for weaponizing Velociraptors. Our heroes confront these mercenaries who have a pack of raptors of their own, which leads to chaos of hero vs villain, dinosaur vs dinosaur, and dinosaur vs human conflict.
The story continues to evolve as the conflict escalates, and eventually the setting circles back to Isla Nublar promising more thrills and adventure synonymous with Jurassic Park.
There Will be Blood
This new Jurassic World story will be a true Jurassic experience, will “not be watered down” and offers the same thrills, freights, and wild dinosaur action you know from the films. While the show is ultimately geared for families of all ages, it was important to all the creators involved that it retained its bite and not shy away from the moments of suspense it’s loved for.
Some of the scenes hinted at included the Indominus Rex on her rampage, Velociraptors hunting Triceratops and leaving battle wounds in real time, and of course, dinosaurs hunting human characters. While the show will make sure it remains appropriate for its younger crowds who will surely flock in faster than a herd of Gallimimus, it will also find creative ways to bring these moments of carnage to life.
Feld Entertainment worked very closely with Universal Pictures, and the franchise heads like Steven Spielberg, Colin Trevorrow, and Frank Marshall to ensure an authentic Jurassic Park experience, and canon story. They poured over every detail of the story to make sure it did not conflict with past, current, and even future outings and will work as a brand new installment in the Jurassic saga. Things like InGen’s facility location off the island were closely considered, optioning a few different locales, before eventually settling on Chile.
Likewise, they worked closely with Universal Pictures to ensure the all new dinosaur – the Troodon – was granted a canon Jurassic design, with numerous artists working to bring her to life. Further, costumes like the ACU outfits were granted film archival reference for absolute accuracy. Of course, the vehicles were given the same love, bringing the Gyrosphere to life directly off of the props and digital files, while the all new Jeep vehicle was carefully designed.
The filmmakers also worked closely to ensure the tone of show remains true to Jurassic World, from the thrills, awe, and wonder all playing within a fun adventure. Some of the earliest feedback was from Steven Spielberg, suggesting the show should boost its comedic elements, amping up the humor when appropriate alongside the dino-thrills.
The ‘Jurassic World: Live Tour’ will feature 7 different species of ‘dinos’: Troodon, Velociraptor, Triceratops, Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus Rex, Indominus Rex, and Pteranodon. Some species have different variants, such as Velociraptor Blue alongside a new suite of Raptors being used by InGen, or the adult Stegosaurus and her baby. Overall the show features well over 20 different dinosaurs, promising a plethora of prehistoric perturbation.
Each dinosaur has been painstakingly brought to life by the artists at Feld Entertainment, and their partner studios, built from the film accurate Industrial Light and Magic files. The accuracy is important to bring these iconic animals to life in the most realistic way possible, seamlessly bringing the dinosaurs from the screen to the stage.
However, this process is not without its unique challenges.
One of the most important things for the ‘Jurassic World: Live Tour’ is making sure that no matter where an audience member is seated, they can fully enjoy the show. To fully realize this, this also means making adjustments to the color contrast, scale size and depth, and other tweaks to the design so the detail you’ve come to expect from the movies is visible in action. These challenges are also met with the technological constraints: will the dinosaur be a full animatronic, or a dinoteer puppet suit?
Dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex will be a colossal 43ft long full motion animatronic behemoth driven by puppeteers at a control station. However, species like the Troodon will be 100+ lb suit worn by a performer, putting enormous athletic strain on the person bringing that animal to life. I had a chance to wear a 60 lb weight vest yesterday, which is half the weight of Blue, and could only imagine what it would be like inside the narrow constraints of the suit while running around for extended periods and puppeting the dinosaur at the same time.
The show promises the most authentic live action dinosaurs ever created, with unparalleled speed, animation, and authenticity.
The dinosaur who will perhaps even be considered the star of the show by fans is Jeannie the Troodon. Troodon is a species all new to the Jurassic franchise (outside of making an appearance in Telltales 2011 ‘Jurassic Park: the Game’, pictured above). While she is a carnivorous animal, they wanted her to be less intimidating than the Velociraptors, giving her a more inquisitive and almost playful appearance to reflect her intelligence. As she was designed from the ground up with the show in mind, without any prior film designs, they took in the consideration of the constraints of a dinoteer suit while crafting her look.
One of the challenges reportedly was her sickle claws, a trait Troodon is most known for, and how they effected the performers mobility. While Blue herself retained her sickle claws, at this stage in development Jeannies have been removed – however, I am unsure if her design is final, or if it may yet evolve. This tweak has been met with mixed feedback, as the anatomical change would reclassify the species as an entirely different evolutionary branch of animal, and has been mistaken as a overlarge Compsognathus by fans due to their near identical appearance.
Compsognathus confusion aside, Jeannie the Troodon animates fantastically, giving her very bird-like inquisitive and snappy motions one would expect from the species. We also saw Blue in motion, who was incredibly lifelike with her movements, eyes darting from person to person as she snaps at them, and snarled intimidatingly. Further, her skin looked incredibly detailed and real, moving convincingly giving the appearance of organic muscles moving within a living and breathing animal.
As we touched on before, bringing the dinosaurs to life authentic to their film appearance is incredibly important for the show, and the Tyrannosaurus you know and love will be featured. However, as we see her after Jurassic World and before Fallen Kingdom, months of painstaking work went into defining elements like just how well her wounds from the Indominus Rex battle would have healed, and how much scarring should appear. This level of attention has been applied across the board, promising an exciting journey into Jurassic World for all fans.
It should be noted, that while the behind the scenes reel featured ‘Desert Velociraptors’, presumably InGens dinos at their Chile basecamp, we’ve been told the design has been changed. We’re unsure what color the raptors will be, but from our understanding they will be based upon film appearances.
You know the premise of the story, and the species of dinosaurs, but that’s only scratching the surface of what the show entails. One of the elements Feld Entertainment wanted to fully leverage was organic interactivity – when you visit a theme park with animatronic dinosaurs, they do the same thing every time you ride the ride. However, this show has live puppeted dinosaurs – so they opted to embrace that opportunity, and have the dinosaurs occasionally react to the audience. If a child laughs or screams, a Velociraptor may come over to investigate the noise – or perhaps a Tyrannosaurus Rex may loom over the crowd, and sniff an audience member, sizing them up as a snack.
Characters in the show will enter from all sides, walking out to the stage from wherever the audience may be seated, truly integrating the crowd into the experience and offering a fully 360 degree focus.
The stage will be themed to the setting of the story in real time, with detailed locations, buildings, and other interactive props. Dinosaur cages adorned with InGen insignia are sure to capture your attention, just as park location signs will attract your curiosity. The island will be alive, with greenery, fog, and even a real watering hole where animals will occasionally drink from. Just as the characters are, the stage will truly be alive as it continues to evolve as time progresses.
While dinosaurs may be the star attractions, the full array of characters will perform exhilarating stunts as they survive the shows numerous set pieces of adventure, villainy, and fun. Expect combat, explosions, stunning effects, and vehicular action including motorcycle stunts among rampaging dinosaurs. When the dinosaurs are hungry, they will eat, and that means our heroes and villains are sure to be given a run for their money as the story unfolds.
Characters will go through numerous wardrobe changes as time progresses, not only dressing differently per environment, but eventually showing the wear and tear of the adventure as it unfolds. The has made sure every element you expect from a film of Jurassic’s caliber will come to life, with no pauses between scene changes, mimicking the flow of the films.
It of course wouldn’t be a Jurassic story without new and unique vehicles. On top of the aforementioned motorcycle scenes, a new Jurassic World Jeep vehicle makes an appearance, paying homage to the 1993 classic, alongside a curious dino-capture buggy, and of course, a real-working Gyropshere. This mix of new and familiar vehicles will surely inspire new custom vehicles from fans at home, like the Jurassic Park Motorpool.
But Wait, There’s More
This report is only scratching the surface of what’s to come with the ‘Jurassic World: Live Tour’! Be sure to stay tuned, as we have more content from our visit including video interviews with Chris Nobels (Associate Producer), Dan Shipton and Ross Nicholson (Directors), and of course, Juliette Feld. We will also upload a photo gallery from our experience soon, so you can pour over every detail we had access to, and share in our fun-filled behind the scenes look.
Tickets are on sale now, so be sure to grab the seats you want before they’re gone! I walked into the event yesterday uncertain about what the show was, and if would be anything more than a cute experience for families – after spending time to learn more about the show, and speak candidly with the creators and talent, I couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come! A huge thank you to Feld Entertainment and Mullen Lowe for being accommodating, helpful, and most of all – passionate – while we visited the preview event.
As always, stay tuned for the latest news and sound off in the comments below!