Sequel in 2018: Jurassic World Sequel

Published: July 24, 2015

Sequel in 2018: Jurassic World Sequel, Universal officially announced a sequel to Jurassic World yesterday, right as the film surpassed The Avengers to become the third-biggest worldwide box-office champion of all time. The untitled film (which I will be referring to as Jurassic World 2 for convenience) will be produced by Steven Spielberg and Frank Marshall, with a screenplay by Colin Trevorrow, and Derek Connolly. No director is set, as Trevorrow has made it clear that once is enough and he will be an executive producer this time around. The Universal/Comcast Corp. sequel is set for June 22nd, 2018. As for the cast, only Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard are officially slated to return. While it was all-but-guaranteed that Mr. Pratt would return, the return of Ms. Howard was probable but not inevitable. So it’s worth noting that she did not become the latest victim to the revolving door of blockbuster female leads.

You know what I mean here. When a male-centric movie does well and spawns a sequel, it is all-but-certain that the male lead returns, but it is not always a guarantee that the female lead will return. The most obvious examples are the stand-alone adventure franchises. The 007 franchise is infamous for its interchangeable female leads, and it’s hardly fair to pick on that series due to its 50+ years of tradition. The likes of Indiana Jones, the Mission: Impossible series, and the original Batman series had a new hot female love interest each time out. Even when the film somewhat revolves around a central romance as its primary narrative function (Mission: Impossible II and Mission: Impossible III), the next chapters forget about the prior relationship or shapes themselves into narrative pretzels in order to justify said character’s exclusion this time around.

This especially extends to comedies. It would be unthinkable for 22 Jump Street to proceed without Channing Tatum and Jonah Hill, but Brie Larson not returning was accepted without a second glance, with Jonah Hill trading her in for Amber Stevens West. Ted 2 committed the same crime as Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and The Hangover part II. The original films built their first movies partially around a lead male character becoming mature enough to win the hand of the respective female lead. Yet when the sequel came around, Mila Kunis, Elizabeth Hurley, and Heather Graham were discarded for newer models. Yes, I am aware of the irony in regards to Hangover II and Austin Powers 2.

Yes, Mila Kunis was apparently pregnant during the filming of Ted 2. But that didn’t necessarily require replacing her with a shiny new love interest for Mark Wahlberg in the form of Amanda Seyfried. Seyfried’s role as an attorney could have existed as is without a romantic element. There are exceptions here and there. Rene Russo was in Lethal Weapon 3 and Lethal Weapon 4. Megan Fox would have made it through three Transformers movies instead of just two had Steven Spielberg not allegedly taken offense at her jokingly comparing Michael Bay to Hitler. And Speed 2 kept Sandra Bullock and replaced an unwilling Keanu Reeves with Jason Patric. But it remains a pleasant surprise when the female lead of a male-centric hit makes a return visit.

It was all-but-preordained that Linda Fiorentino would not return for Men in Black II, that Courtney Cox would not return for Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls or that Cody Horn would not return for Magic Mike XXL. Even the narrative continuity of the first film was not enough to justify swapping out one attractive young woman for another the second time out, as Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me and Ted 2 prove. Now there is one exception to this periodic rule, and that’s the one solid part of the current “everything must be a connected serial” trend. Starting in 2001, with Harry Potter, the Lord of the Rings, and (over the next two years) Spider-Man and Pirates of the Caribbean, we started seeing explicitly connected sagas where basically everyone came back.

That meant we got three Spider-Man films co-starring Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane Watson, three Pirates of the Caribbean films with Keira Knightley, and three Matrix films starring Keanu Reeves and Carrie-Anne Moss. Sequels became less like the stand-alone Indiana Jones movies and more like the intertwined Star Wars films. The Marvel films have mostly continued this positive trend, with Tony Stark’s relationship with Pepper Potts extending towards three Iron Man movies and one Avengers film and Natalie Portman returning for at least the first Thor sequel. There is little doubt that the eventual Avatar sequels will see not just the return of Sam Worthington but Zoe Saldana as well.

But for a stand-alone sequel like Jurassic World, where the entire arc isn’t laid out ahead of time and no trilogies are planned, the truth is that movie star and relative box office draw Chris Pratt is considered essential while Bryce Dallas Howard, even though she was arguably the lead of Jurassic World, remains expendable. So it is encouraging that Ms. Howard is coming back in a presumably co-starring capacity. It would have been just as easy, with little financial detriment, to merely bring back Chris Pratt and team him up with another attractive young actress. But Jurassic World 2 didn’t do that. Maybe they can write some male characters who will show her a little more respect this time out, but that’s a conversation for another day.

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