What happened during Isla Nublar’s intervening years?
The following is an article by friend of the site Neelis and discusses the chain of events occurring on Isla Nublar between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World. As such, there may be minor spoilers, but it provides an excellent timeline and analysis of events. Be sure to give Neelis a follow on Twitter.
What happened to Isla Nublar between the accident in the park (circa 1993), and the construction and opening of Jurassic World (circa 2000 - 2005)?
The Book: Jurassic Park
Michael Crichton’s best-selling novel Jurassic Park presented us with an unprecedented prospect: a theme park housing living dinosaurs, brought back from extinction through the (then) miracle of cloning. As expected, predatory dinosaurs and human interference are never a good idea, and soon trouble would arise, putting the human characters in jeopardy.
By the end of the novel, the survivors (including Grant, Gennaro, Sattler, Tim, Lex and Muldoon) are airlifted off Isla Nublar by the (fictional) Costa Rican Air Force. As soon as the entire island has been evacuated, it is destroyed by bombing it with napalm, making sure none of the dinosaurs survive.
From the epilogue we learn some dinosaurs did make it off the island, having moved across the country and eating agama beans, soy and chicken (rich in lysine), before disappearing into the dense Costa Rican jungles, never to be seen again.
The Film: Jurassic Park
Jurassic Park’s film version saw quite a different ending to the story. While having passed away in the books, Hammond and Malcolm survived the film’s events, while Gennaro and Muldoon perished on the island.
The film was deliberately left open-ended, leaving room for a possible sequel to take place on Isla Nublar. Director Steven Spielberg remarked he had expected Michael Crichton to come up with an idea for the story revolving around Dennis Nedry’s lost Barbasol shaving cream can containing the stolen dinosaur embryos; Spielberg was quite surprised when this plot, elementary in the first film’s depiction of the park’s demise, was ignored, instead focusing on another island entirely: Isla Sorna.
The Book: The Lost World
The Lost World, written after Jurassic Park’s box-office success, presented Michael Crichton with a problem. In the original novel he had made sure Isla Nublar was cleared of dinosaurs. Universal and Steven Spielberg were hoping for a new (bestselling) book to base the second film on – Crichton, never having written a sequel to one of his books before (or since) reluctantly agreed.
The second novel saw the miraculous return of Ian Malcolm; though pronounced dead in the first book, Jeff Goldblum’s performance on film had made Malcolm an unexpectedly popular character, and Crichton resurrected him – turning the book in a hybrid sequel to both its paper predecessor and the celluloid version based off of it.
After bodies of mysterious animals start washing up on Central American shores, Malcolm and his former girlfriend Sarah Harding, an animal behavioral expert, learn InGen leased a second island off the Costa Rican shores, where the company experimented in secret, recreating dinosaurs and perfecting them before shipping the animals to the theme park on Isla Nublar. “Hammond’s dirty little secret,” Site B, had eluded all media and thrill-seekers’ attention.
The island, abandoned after the incident on Isla Nublar, is home to a host of different dinosaurs. Old favorites such as Stegosaurus, Tyrannosaurus and Velociraptor return; and there is a new predator on the block, the fearsome Carnotaurus, an animal with camouflage abilities stalking prey around the ruins of the former worker village, striking fear in not just human explorers, but other dinosaurs alike.
In a race against time, Malcolm and a small crew try to find paleontologist Richard Levine, who is stranded on the island. Lewis Dodgson, the man who bribed Dennis Nedry in the first novel (and film) to steal dinosaur embryos for rivaling company BioSyn, is no longer a supporting character but the full-on antagonist, this time hell-bent on not simply stealing embryos, but snatching eggs from the dinosaurs’ nests.
By the end of the novel, a small group of survivors makes it off the island, taking the secret of this Lost World with them. What happened to the animals and the island itself in the novels’ universe is anyone’s guess; though several of the dinosaurs fell ill with the mysterious DX disease, it’s unclear if Malcolm’s predicted “second extinction” took place, or if the former InGen operation on Isla Sorna was ever uncovered by the authorities.
The Film: The Lost World: Jurassic Park
Deviating greatly from the source material, The Lost World: Jurassic Park eliminated the novel’s main characters (Doc Thorne, Richard Levine, Arby Benton), seeing the return of Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum reprising his role) and the appearance of Sarah Harding and Eddie Carr; Nick van Owen was introduced as a member of the protagonist’s team .
Rough elements from the novel can be found in the film; Isla Sorna as a location; the rescue mission to find Harding (instead of Levine) who’s alone on the island; the abandoned worker village; the Tyrannosaurs attacking the trailer after the protagonists take care of the injured baby rex; Velociraptors stalking people through tall grass.
Dodgson, however, is gone, replaced by Peter Ludlow, head of InGen and cousin of John Hammond (their family relationship isn’t entirely clear). The hunt for eggs is replaced by a much greater objective: to capture dinosaurs and display them in a zoo outside San Diego.
Much to the dismay of fans, the Carnotaurs never make an appearance (ironically, the toy lines for both Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park included Carnotaurus action figures and even an adorable, though cranky-looking hatchling); instead, the focus lies primarily on the Tyrannosaurus couple and their cute-as-a-button baby. As expected, everything goes south, but hunter Roland Tembo succeeds in downing the male Tyrannosaurus. Here is where the film strays furthest from the book; InGen brings the bull T-rex to the mainland. As expected, this last desperate attempt at making profit goes spectacularly wrong too. Peter Ludlow pays the highest price; he falls prey to the infant Tyrannosaurus, the young animal practicing its killing skills on him.
The film ends with a much clearer idea of the state of Isla Sorna; it is to become a sanctuary for the dinosaurs, to live undisturbed and isolated from the rest of the world.
No return to Isla Nublar (?)
With the exploration and attempt at exploitation of Isla Sorna comes a most peculiar question: what happened to Isla Nublar? Why does the original island go largely unmentioned in both sequels, and why do none of the returning characters seem concerned about its fate, and more importantly, the dinosaurs that roamed it?
First, there’s something of interest John Hammond mentioned while trying to convince Ellie Sattler and Alan Grant to come inspect his park on Isla Nublar:
”I own an island, off the coast of Costa Rica.”
”I’ve leased it from the government.”
Jurassic Park (1993)
Now, Hammond, the flamboyant and likeable showman, says two things. One; he apparently “owns” the island. But next he downplays it a bit and explains he has leased it from the Costa Rican government.
There’s an interesting distinction. Would InGen have the funds to indefinitely acquire not just a plot of foreign land, but a complete island? Despite seeming very successful at what they do, this is a far stretch.
Then there’s the matter of Costa Rica (or any nation, for that matter) willing to sell land. A lease would mean a steady, hefty income, considering the Isla Nublar resort and Jurassic Park theme park’s expected financial success. I will not pretend to be an expert on these matters, but there seem to be some far-reaching legal implications when it comes to a country parting with home soil by selling to a corporation.
This could all be a slip up in the script, but both options ended up in the film’s spoken dialogue. Let me get back to this in a moment, and first take a look at an infamous deleted scene from The Lost World: Jurassic Park, in which Peter Ludlow informs InGen’s board of directors of an incident that took place on Site B (Isla Sorna), in which a young girl was injured:
”Damaged or destroyed equipment: seventeen point three million. Demolition, deconstruction and disposal of Isla Nublar facilities, organic and inorganic, one hundred and twenty-six million dollars.”
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) (deleted scene)
Here we have it: the answer to that earlier question. The island’s facilities have been dismantled and the animals eliminated. Nothing is left.
Why is this of importance? As Hammond said, he leased the island from the Costa Rican government. Now, would the park have been a success, Costa Rica no doubt would have made a profit as well, seeing an increase in tourism, money spent in both the country and at Isla Nublar (part of that money flowing back through the mentioned lease contract); but with the failure of the park, the lease ended and Costa Rica took possession of the island again, forcing InGen to clean up and restore the island to its original state.
Obviously, this presents us with a new problem. The scene was cut from the film either for reasons of pacing and a better flow of the narrative (The Lost World: Jurassic Park is already slightly longer than Jurassic Park); it might have been considered unneeded, given Hammond informs Malcolm on the state of Isla Sorna in the scene that is present in the film, which sees Ludlow and Malcolm clash as well; or it could have been taken out because the information presented within that scene leaves no room for a possible return to Isla Nublar in a future installment.
As we know by now, that installment is coming: Jurassic World (June 2015) presents us with an open, fully functioning park located on Isla Nublar, having been in business for a decade, receiving thousands of visitors every single day. It’s a huge success. And it harbors some secrets, hidden in the island’s jungles…
”Something Has Survived”: Continuity
Returning, for the moment, to that scene in John Hammond’s bedroom, where Ian Malcolm finds himself shocked when he learns there is another island that is home to dozens of dinosaur species – all thriving.
”Thank God for Site B.”
“Isla Nublar was just the showroom, something for the tourists. Site B was the factory floor; that was on Isla Sorna, eighty miles from Nublar. We bred the animals there, and nurtured them for a few months and then moved them into the park.”
“Really? I did not know that.”
“Now, after the accident in the park, Hurricane Clarissa wiped out our facility on Site B: call it an act of God. We had to evacuate of course, and the animals were released to mature on their own. ‘Life will find a way,’ as you once so eloquently put it. And by now we have a complete ecological system on the island, with dozens of species living in their own social groups without fences, without boundaries, without constraining technology and for four years I’ve tried to keep it safe from human interference.”
”Well, that’s right, that’s right, hopefully you’ve kept this island quarantined and contained but I’m in shock about all this. I mean, that they’re still alive. You bred them lysine-deficient. Shouldn’t they have kicked after seven days without supplemental enzymes?”
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997)
Nowhere in this dialogue does Malcolm express any concern over Isla Nublar. Neither does Hammond bother to mention it. The focus in both The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III lies solely on Isla Sorna.
It begs the question, too, why InGen wouldn’t send a team to Nublar. Why wouldn’t they? Nublar had reasonable infrastructure, there were detailed maps of the park’s layout, an idea of what species of dinosaurs would roam there. Most importantly, the biggest threat, the three adult Velociraptors, had all been killed during the 1993 incident. Would it not have been far easier to capture dinosaurs on an island with reasonable infrastructure and knowledge of the assumed amount of animals roaming there?
Malcolm does mention the lysine-deficiency fail-safe Dr. Wu built into the dinosaurs’ DNA. Does the tagline of the film, Something Has Survived, hint at the animals surviving due to them eating lysine rich vegetation? (The notion in itself is flawed - all vertebrate life forms need to consume lysine-rich foods, non can create their own.) This could be an interpretation, considering the boardroom scene and its exposition, clearing all doubts, was cut from the film.
But when we do keep that cut scene in mind (and realize how it is the catalyst for the film’s events in the first place), the tagline can’t refer to anything else but the clean-up operation that took place on Isla Nublar. As Hammond says, he tried to keep Isla Sorna safe from prying eyes and exploitation by his own company.
And there’s something else that strongly hints at a now barren Isla Nublar; while on his way to meet John Hammond, Malcolm is confronted with an obnoxious passenger on the subway. We learn that Malcolm has spoken out about the incident on Isla Nublar and InGen’s capabilities of resurrecting extinct animals. Yet people do not believe him. If Malcolm made such a fuss and went public with his knowledge, wouldn’t it have been fairly easy for an investigative journalist or News Corporation to hire an aircraft, fly over the island and see if all Malcolm’s allegations are true?
In the novel The Lost World, there actually is mention of this (although the journalists are flown over the wrong island and never were the wiser for it); it would be reasonable to assume the same thing would have happened in the film’s universe.
Is this conclusive then? Was Isla Nublar indeed cleared of all technology, infrastructure, construction and dinosaur-life?
The answer, surprisingly, comes from the third film.
Lessons from Dr. Grant’s audience
Trying to convince his audience more money is needed for research, Dr. Grant is confronted with a lecture hall full of people wanting to know about the, as he calls them, “theme park monsters” created by InGen. Facing a sea of raised hands, Grant asks if there are people who do not have a question about Jurassic Park. Hands drop, and Grant realizes all too well there are people in the audience who want to know more about the infamous San Diego incident. He denies involvement. This leaves only a few eager arms up in the air:
“as soon as Costa Rica and the UN know how to handle that second island, scientists will just go in and look for themselves.”
”Are you saying you wouldn’t want to get on Isla Sorna and study them if you had the chance?”
”No force on Earth or Heaven could get me on that island.”
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Again, the focus is solely placed on Isla Sorna by all involved. Everyone within Jurassic Park’s universe seems to be aware Isla Nublar is no longer home to dinosaurs. Isla Sorna is the place to be if you want to see eye to eye with living, breathing dinosaurs!
Retconning established events: the rise of Masrani Global and a preliminary conclusion
Though having been kept a surprise for a long time, the cat came out of the bag with the release of Jurassic World’s newest global trailer and word from director Colin Trevorrow; the original Tyrannosaurus rex from Jurassic Park will make a glorious return – now shrouded in more mystery than the already much debated Indominus rex, fans still haven’t had a good look at Isla Nublar’s ruler.
The website for Masrani Global, having bought-up InGen and setting up shop on Isla Nublar to start their own park, has nothing but praise for all those involved, and gives us a, very global, muddled timeline of events:
The acquisition of InGen by Masrani in 1998 hasn’t changed the scientific focus placed on the company, and CEO Simon Masrani has looked to experienced geneticist Dr. Henry Wu to guide the company ever since - with results often exceeding expectations for investors. Thanks to Masrani, InGen has been reinvented and is bringing tomorrow’s science, today.
Masrani Global’s website
In 1997 Simon Masrani began talks to acquire International Genetic Technologies after the passing of Dr. John Hammond in order to reshape and restore the company to a level of satisfaction once sought by the former founder. By 1998 InGen was under the Masrani umbrella and the years from 2002 to 2004 would help lead the Masrani company on their biggest adventure yet: the construction of Jurassic World on Isla Nublar.
Masrani Global’s website
After the unfortunate incident at Jurassic Park, Dr. Henry Wu returned to Isla Nublar in November of 1994 to assist the clean up teams in cataloging specimen numbers, and to identify exactly how the animals were breeding. Despite the island’s presence of seemingly same sex animals, it was the inclusion of amphibian DNA which he himself had underestimated.
Masrani Global’s website
By May of 1997 Dr. Wu and his research team at a financially struggling InGen had successfully combined several species of plant life together giving birth to the Karacosis wutansis (or Wu Flower) which gained world-wide media attention, including the attention of Simon Masrani - who incidentally acquired InGen the following year. The son of a close friend of the now late John Hammond, Simon Masrani promoted Dr. Wu within the ranks of the InGen company in December of 2000 and brought the scientist onto the Jurassic World project. Dr. Henry Wu was instantly looked at as a valued member of the Masrani company, proving his unique skill not only as a successful scientist, but a great visionary.
Masrani Global’s website
Established in 2002 for the purpose of construction on Jurassic World, Timack Construction have since gone on to specializing in renowned commercial building constructions.
Masrani Global’s website
Simon Masrani used subsidaries Axis Boulder Engineering and Timack Construction to work on the preparation and planning prior to construction on the island. Construction workers were protected from native wildlife by InGen security over the course of the three years from 2002 until completion in 2004. With over $1.2 billion alone spent in concrete and building materials, this project was never underestimated.
Masrani Global’s website
Step into the prehistoric era and come face to face with some of the greatest animals to ever walk the Earth, the Dinosaurs! Soak in the atmosphere and visit an ecosystem like nothing experienced before. With technologically advanced ride systems, five star restaurants, and a high class golf course, it is full of excitement, spectacle, and will leave an everlasting impression on everyone who visits.
The Masrani company is proud to present the greatest theme park ever built: Jurassic World.
“The most gratifying feeling of the Masrani Company is the global appreciation of our visions and ideas. We have brought together the world’s top minds all under one roof and since 1973 we have conquered things previously thought impossible. We’ve established ourselves in many areas from telecommunications, to genetic research, and defense organizations, landing as the number one in terms of innovation and success. Jurassic World is the sum of everything that came before it.”
Masrani Global’s website
Impressive as it may be, Masrani does not clarify how thorough Isla Nublar’s clean-up operation was, or what local wildlife construction crews needed to be protected from. From everything that came before, we would have assumed it was executed with the utmost care and consideration, especially given the price InGen paid for the entire operation.
”one hundred and twenty-six million dollars.”
The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) (deleted scene)
That’s a lot of dough, which should have ensured a conscientious, precise operation that was set up specifically not to leave a trace of InGen’s presence on Isla Nublar.
This leaves us (well, me in particular) with a most burning question: does Jurassic World retcon establish canon regarding the fate of Isla Nublar as presented to us in the original three films (in particular the two sequels), or will it offer an explanation as to how the original Tyrannosaurus still roams the island, and why the ruins of the old Visitors’ Center remain, now covered in vegetation and out of view of tourists visiting the island?
What happened to Isla Nublar between the accident in the park (circa 1993), and the construction and opening of Jurassic World (circa 2000 - 2005)? Why was this clean-up operation not successful, or if it was, why are the filmmakers deviating from the original explanations and previously established conclusions?
Of course, as a dedicated fan that wants every detail of the story to be correct, a possible retconning of years-old canon would be a somewhat bitter pill to swallow. But keeping in mind that these films are not just made for hardcore fans, but a much broader demographic, casual film audiences who come to have a good night out and see a film about dinosaurs running amok, and who aren’t necessarily fans of the films or have interest in, or knowledge of, all details, it won’t matter much if the island was properly dismantled or not.
Jurassic World might not offer any satisfactory answers. The film could gloss over the previous events (sidetracking The Lost World: Jurassic Park and Jurassic Park III), ignore them or give the most limited of nods.
Ideally, a satisfactory explanation could be worked into the film. This would require some exposition, which could either work gloriously or fail horribly.
In a few weeks time my questions might be answered – but I’m well aware my search for a solid, well-rounded conclusion could leave me empty handed and disappointed.
Whatever the case, a return to Isla Nublar is a thrilling prospect. The island where it all started for Alan Grant and Ellie Sattler – and us as an audience -, the place John Hammond envisioned would enthrall children and adults alike, where dinosaurs would roam once again; we’re going back, and we’re going to see it as never before.
”You know the first attraction I ever built when I came down south from Scotland? It was a Flea Circus, Petticoat Lane. Really quite wonderful. We had a wee trapeze, and a merry-go… carousel and a seesaw. They all moved, motorized of course, but people would say they could see the fleas. ‘Oh, I see the fleas, mummy! Can’t you see the fleas?’ Clown fleas and high-wire fleas and fleas on parade. But with this place, I wanted to show them something that wasn’t an illusion. Something that was real, something that they could see and touch. An aim not devoid of merit.”
Every interview Alan Carr does he's asked about Adele, and it's embarassing.
Do you have that with someone?
Yeah. Who do you think mine is?
Yeah. It's like 'How's Harry Styles?!?! Book Harry Styles!!!! How's Harry getting on with films?' 'Well, why don't you phone Harry and get an interview with him?!?!? Oh, you can't get one so you're interviewing me.'
There is surely no other city we know as completely from cinema and TV as New York. Yet according to film location scout Nick Carr, what he is often asked to find is anything but the reality of the Big Apple
Supergirl Season 2: Lex Luthor's Sister, Lesbian Detective and 'Brash Leading Man' Among 5 New Additions
National City is experiencing a major population spike in the wake of Supergirl‘s move from CBS to The CW. In addition to the Man of Steel’s imminent arrival, TVLine has learned that Greg Berlanti & Co. are adding five major new characters in Season 2 — including the series-regular role of Lex Luthor’s kid sister.
Lena Luthor, who will be in the 25-35 year old range, arrives in town to get out from under the shadow of her infamous brother. She’s described as sexy and smart and determined to get what she wants. But what does she want? That remains unclear.