With Skydance and Paramount’s Top Gun: Maverick crushing expectations ($176.6 million domestic and around $330 million worldwide thus far) and aiming to win the domestic box office crown for summer 2022, let’s check in with the next 1600lbs gorilla. Universal began the slow international rollout for Jurassic World: Dominion “today,” with time zone magic allowing June 1 to occur yesterday in South Korea. It opens in Mexico today before opening in Argentina tomorrow. Most of its territories, including North America and China, will open the dino threequel on the week of June 10, with Japan opening on June 29. The Colin Trevorrow-directed film, which I’m seeing on Monday night, has earned $6.05 million on its first day in Korea, besting Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ($5.9 million) and Spider-Man: No Way Home ($5.3 million) to score the biggest Covid-era launch.
Doctor Strange 2 has earned $48.3 million in South Korea while Spider-Man 3 version 2.0 grossed $61.7 million, while the last two Jurassic World movies earned $39 million in 2015 and $47 million in 2018. Since I don’t have official tracking at my fingertips, I can only guestimate that Jurassic World 3, which combines Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard and BD Wong with Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum, will probably open somewhere between $130 million (below the $148 million launch of Fallen Kingdom) and $160 million (below the then-record $208 million launch of Jurassic World). However, few of us expected Jurassic World, even with decent reviews, to open above and eventually gross more than The Avengers ($208 million/$652 million/$1.671 billion versus $207 million/$623 million/$1.517 billion), as this is one of those franchises that is more seen than blogged or discoursed about.
The Internet doesn’t lose its mind over it, nor does YouTube get filled up with fan theories, Easter Egg videos or rants about clues related to the theoretical next installment, but general audiences show up and have an enjoyable time. The whole “regular people fend off dinosaurs who occasionally eat or kill those people” is a hook that’s unique to this franchise. When even the MonsterVerse movies are mostly centered upon soldiers and top-level government operatives, there’s something to be said about the blue-collar sensibilities of the Jurassic franchise. The first film featured underpaid and overworked archeologists taking a consultation gig in exchange for their science being funded. Fallen Kingdom had its top-of-the-world protagonist (Dallas Howard) brought low due to the catastrophic events of Jurassic World and remade into a self-employed activist trying to save the dinos still left in the park.
In a world where the biggest franchises are about literal superheroes, “chosen one” protagonists (Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, Frodo Baggins, eventually even Mark Wahlberg in the Transformers films) and metaphorical supermen (John Wick, Jason Bourne, Ethan Hunt and James Bond), the Jurassic series stands almost entirely apart as being centered upon regular people, skilled in their scientific or trade fields perhaps, who must run, fight and survive cataclysmic dinosaur encounters. That doesn’t make the franchise “better,” but it does help it stand out even beyond the core primal appeal of big-n-scary dinosaurs. And that makes it somewhat rare in terms of being (with the caveat that I haven’t yet seen Dominion) a solid franchise (a four-star original and four three-star sequels) centered upon ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. That used to be par for the course in Hollywood until everyone got addicted to being “the special.”