People often try to explain the failure of Jurassic Park III, Terra Nova or Disney's Dinosaur with bad storytelling, bad acting, absence of a T. rex, bad CGI etc. While this might be true to some extent, I don't think these things are the main reasons.
In the USA there isn't a single dinosaur film/series/game/comic released after ~2000 that became a financial success. Here is a small list:
- Raptor (2001)
- The Lost World (2001)
- Jurassic Park III (2001)
- Dinosaur (2001)
- Dinotopia (miniseries) (2002-2003)
- Dino Crisis 3 (2003)
- Turok (2008)
- Land of the Lost (2009)
- Jurassic: The Hunted (2009)
- Jurassic Park: The Game (2011)
- Terra Nova (2011)
- March of the Dinosaurs (2011)
- Primeval: New World (2012)
- The Dinosaur Project (2012)
- Walking with Dinosaurs: The Movie (2013)
We could discuss the flaws in all these media. However, when I see a long list like this, I don’t see just incidences; I see a trend. I think this trend will give a better explanation for the failure of JPIII and why we haven't seen another JP film for more than a decade.
Despite all their flaws, most films/series/games shown above had (generally) better CGI and storylines than pre-2000 media. Nonetheless, most pre-2000 media became a big succes. I've made a list of them:
- One Million Years B.C. (1966), popular at the box office.
- When Dinosaurs Ruled the Earth (1970), popular at the box office.
- Land of the Lost (1974 TV series), became a cult classic.
- Land of the Lost (1991 TV series), 2 seasons.
- Designasaurus (1988), #1 selling game (U.S.), Educational Game of the Year in 1988 by the Software Publishers' Association.
- Dinosaurs (TV series), 4 seasons.
- Carnosaur (1993), grossed $1,753,979 and spawned two official direct-to-video sequels.
- Turok: Dinosaur Hunter (1997), huge success with sequels.
- Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World (1999-2002), 3 seasons.
- Dino Crisis (1999), commercial success.
I would like to hear what you all have to say about this. However, this is my explanation.
Dinosaurs were very popular in the 70s, 80s and 90s. Dinosaurs didn't have to look great and the stories didn't have to be deep. If it had dinosaurs in it, people just loved it.
After the year 2000 the dino hype was (finally) over. I think that was the moment that the fantasy genre arose from the geek-hell with films like Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter. These films caused that fantasy became more accepted by the general public. This process is even more enhanced by Game of Thrones.
At the same time dinosaurs fell into the geek-hell. Dinosaurs are mostly regarded as something for tiny boys and nerds. Most film and game makers know this and won't put dinosaurs in their media. Let me give a few examples. In the 90s dinosaur made a lot of cameos in adventure games (like Tomb Raider or Final Fantasy VIII). In the modern survival horror game Far Cry 3 dinosaurs could have been a nice addition to the wildlife. Instead they have added a fictional Komodo Dragon. In The Elder Scrolls series prehistoric animals appear. Skyrim had Mammoths, Cave Bears and Sabre Cats. Therefore, I hoped to see dinosaurs in the jungles of The Elder Scrolls Online. There are no dinosaurs in ESO because there wasn't a niche for them, the game does feature fictional reptilian monsters like the Clannfear, Daedroth, Scuttler and the Guar.
Nowadays, you can create shallow and predictable series like Resident Evil and Merlin and people will love it. Dinosaur media, however, is destined to fail.
There are, of course, exceptions to this trend. The British series Primeval had 5 seasons from 2007 to 2011. However, this series never became very popular outside the United Kingdom. King Kong (2005) had some dinosaurs in it and was a huge success. Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs (2009) was also a success. Furthermore, the 2013 3D adaptation of the first film was also a huge success.
I'm not saying that the Dino Crisis is a 100% explanation. But I do think it gives the main reason, so ~70%, for why almost every dinosaur media became a failure.
I am not going to speculate why these few dinosaur media actually were successful. I think we can see them as just a few exceptions of the trend I’ve outlined.
Prediction for Jurassic World
With this hypothesis, I think I can predict what will happen with our long expected Jurassic World. I think that the general public doesn’t like dinosaur films. If this is still the case in 2015, people will either not watch or don’t like Jurassic World. Even when Jurassic world will be a masterpiece of storytelling, character development and special effects; most viewers will have something like "seen that, been there." Reviewers will put the blame on many things. I am sure that almost none of them will realize that this failure is mainly caused because JW isn’t released during a dino-hype; unlike the first two films.