Colin Trevorrow (Safety Not Guaranteed) was hired to direct Jurassic World without being allowed to see the screenplay first. And when he finally saw the screenplay, he didn’t understand it. He says that he warned Steven Spielberg, “if I direct this screenplay, it’s going to be a bad movie.”
Talking to Den of Geek, Trevorrow explains how he saved himself from having to direct a screenplay that he didn’t actually understand at all:
I was very determined to make it work. Partly because I didn’t seek out doing a large film - I’d made a very small film, which I was proud of. I wanted to make a slightly larger film, then a slightly larger one after that, and then Steven [Spielberg] and Frank [Marshall] came and asked if I’d consider doing this. That was in March of 2013.
It was about three and half months out of production - they were going to start shooting in June. They had a screenplay - I was hired before I was able to read it! And then I came to Los Angeles - I live on the east coast, over in Vermont - and I read the script, and I did not understand it. I didn’t know how I could direct it. So I went back and I said, “I’m sorry, if I direct this screenplay, it’s going to be a bad movie. I’m gonna do a bad job, because I just don’t get it.”
So Steven said to Derek [Connolly, writing partner] and I, “Oh really? Well then, you write a better one. We’ve been trying to do this for 14 years now! Show me what you can do!” [Laughs]
So Derek and I took the three key ideas that Steven had himself, that there’s a park that’s fully functional, there is a man who has a relationship with the raptors and he’s trying to train them, and then there’s a dinosaur that escapes and threatens everyone in the park. Using just those ideas, we built the film you see now. It was a screenplay that got him energized and we started to see it. We got it. Luckily, he has the power to say, “You know what, now that we finally have something that is working, let’s take another year. Let’s get it right.”
In retrospect, I don’t even know what movie we would have seen. It was very similar, but the last 10 percent of something is all of it, in a lot of ways. So that year’s what really made it work.
Which just goes to show — when a relatively new director gets brought on to a project where there’s a ton of money at stake and a release date already set in stone, it takes a lot of guts to step in and say that script is actually broken. It’s easy to see how things so often turn out differently.
Update: As a few people pointed out in comments, there’s an additional context to Trevorrow’s remarks that we didn’t make clear originally. Trevorrow and Connolly were involved in a contentious arbitration process with the husband-and-wife team of Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver over script credit. The studio wanted Trevorrow and Connolly to have sole credit, but Jaffa and Silver won the arbitration process, even after multiple appeals. So Trevorrow’s comments about the earlier script should be read partly in the context of this dispute. More context on that here, here and here. [Den of Geek]
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