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JUN
15
3 YEARS

Steven Spielberg Brainstorming 'Jurassic Park 4' with Writer Mark Protosevich (Exclusive)

Will Universal reboot the lucrative but faded dinosaur franchise?

Steven Spielberg
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Steven Spielberg has dinosaurs back on the brain lately. In addition to the impending launch of the television series Terra Nova on Fox in the fall, Spielberg has been meeting with screenwriter Mark Protosevich to kick around ideas for how to re-boot the Jurassic Park franchise.

Several years ago, the Oscar-winning director worked with Protosevich on a potential remake of Chan-wook Park's Oldboy that was to star Will Smith. That film ran into rights problems and didn't come to fruition, but Spielberg, who directed the first two Jurassic Park films and was an executive producer on the third, has since met twice with Protosevich to fashion a story for a potential fourth film in the franchise.

Both Universal, which released the trilogy, and Spielberg's camp stress that no one has been engaged to write a script and that the discussions have been purely exploratory. But the idea is kind of a no-brainer.

The franchise, born of the late Michael Crichton's 1990 novel, has been in stuck in amber since 2001, when Joe Johnston directed Jurassic Park III from a script by Peter Buchman, Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne. That last entry signaled the series' fading fortunes, as it grossed just $369 million worldwide -- Jurassic Park and The Lost World: Jurassic Park grossed $915 million and $619 million, respectively.

Spielberg's original 1993 film adaptation, which came on the heels of James Cameron's groundbreaking Terminator 2: Judgment Day, greatly advanced CGI technology (courtesy of ILM) in its depiction of colossal dinosaurs re-animated in the modern day. With the recent rebirth of 3D and soaring improvements in digital design marshaled by everyone from Cameron to Pixar, Jurassic Park is ripe for evolution into a 21st century phenomenon.

And Universal could use the revived sci-fi tentpole.The Fast and the Furious franchise remains healthy, but The Mummy has lost momentum, the Bourne series lost star Matt Damon (a reboot with Jeremy Renner is in the works) and Van Helsing, The Wolfman and Land of the Lost never caught fire. Battleship remains a gamble for summer 2012 but could spark a new alien-related franchise.

Stampeding dinosaurs endangering humans, fighting each other and smashing things never gets old, and Cameron showed how far an ambitious filmmaker can push an integrated, immersive 3D world with Avatar. A new Spielberg-produced Jurassic Park that takes full advantage of those tools could be (pre)historic.

The CAA-repped Protosevich recently had a story credit on Marvel Studios' Thor, and he is working on an adaptation of the Ape Entertainment comic Freakshow that he would also direct. He co-wrote the screenplay for I Am Legend and wrote both The Cell and Poseidon.

The CAA-repped Spielberg is finishing up The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn for Paramount and War Horse for DreamWorks/Disney, both scheduled for holiday releases. He next plans to direct Lincoln for DreamWorks/Touchstone.

Email: Jay.Fernandez@thr.com