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Dinosaur is a 2000 American computer-animated adventure film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and The Secret Lab. The 39th Disney animated feature film,1 it follows a heroic young Iguanodon who was adopted and raised by a family of lemurs on a tropical island. After surviving a devastating meteor shower, the family move out for their new home and befriend a herd of dinosaurs along the way while on a journey to the "Nesting Grounds". Unfortunately, they're being hunted down by predators such as Carnotaurus.
Theatrical release poster
|Produced by||Pam Marsden|
|Music by||James Newton Howard|
|Edited by||H. Lee Peterson|
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$349.8 million|
The initial idea was conceived in 1986 by Phil Tippett and Paul Verhoeven where it was conceived as a darker, naturalistic film about dinosaurs. The project underwent numerous iterations with multiple directors attached. In 1994, Walt Disney Feature Animation began development on the project and spent several years developing the software to create the dinosaurs. While the characters in Dinosaur are computer-generated, most of the backgrounds are live-action and were filmed on location. A number of backgrounds were found in various continents such as the Americas and Asia; various tepuis and Angel Falls also appear in the film.
Dinosaur was released on May 19, 2000 to mixed reviews from film critics who praised the animation and soundtrack, but criticized the story for a lack of originality. The film grossed over $349 million worldwide, becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of 2000.
In a nearby breeding ground, a Carnotaurus ambushes an infant Parasaurolophus after it accidentally attracts its attention, triggering a stampede which forces an Iguanodon mother to abandon her nest which is crushed by the pursuing predator and eventually kills a Pachyrhinosaurus. One surviving egg, after being removed from the nest by an Oviraptor and lost in a river following a fight with another, journeys through several dinosaur terrains via the flight of a Geosternbergia before ending up on a faraway island populated by lemurs. Plio, the daughter of their leader, Yar, names the hatchling Aladar and raises him as her adopted son, much to Yar's initial objections.
Years later, a fully grown Aladar and the lemurs take part in a mating ritual, where his friend Zini is unable to achieve a mate. Moments after the ritual ends, they are interrupted when a gigantic meteor crashes into the Earth, creating an explosion-like tsunami that destroys the island and spreads countless exploding fireballs. However, Aladar, along with Plio, Zini, Yar, and Suri flee and survive by leaping across the sea towards the mainland. They look back at their ruined home and mourn for the loss of their loved ones before deciding to move on.
While crossing deserted wastelands, the group are attacked by a pack of Velociraptors. After escaping from them, the family encounter a massive herd of dinosaurs led by two Iguanodons named Kron, who is their leader and his lieutenant Bruton, during a journey to the "Nesting Grounds", a valley said to be untouched by the devastation of the meteor. After the herd stop to spend the night, Aladar and the lemurs befriend some members of the herd including Baylene, an elderly Brachiosaurus who is the last of her kind, her friend Eema, a Styracosaurus and Url, her pet dog-like Ankylosaurus. The next morning, the herd begin to journey across the desert and after walking for hours, finally reach a lake they have relied on for past trips. It appears to be dried up and Kron orders the herd to move on until Aladar and his friends discover water buried under the surface, thereby saving the herd from dehydration.
Later that evening, Kron's sister Neera, impressed by Aladar's compassionate ways, begins to have a relationship with him. Meanwhile, two Carnotaurus follow the herd's tracks and begin hunting them for food. Bruton and an Iguanodon scout search for water in a canyon, but are ambushed and attacked by the Carnotaurus. Bruton manages to escape, but the scout is killed and devoured. Bruton warns Kron that they are being followed, sending the entire herd in a panicked flurry. Kron picks up the pace and starts to evacuate the herd, leaving Aladar, the lemurs, and the elderly dinosaurs behind while the Carnotaurus are in pursuit some distance away.
During a storm, the group encounter Bruton, who was left to defend himself against the Carnotaurus after he was abandoned by Kron, before deciding to take shelter in a cave to spend the night. Later that night, the Carnotaurus pair enter the cave and attack the group, but Bruton intervenes and is able to fight off the predators while giving Aladar and the others time to escape. Bruton sacrifices himself by triggering a cave-in, crushing him and one of the Carnotaurus under falling debris. However, the other larger Carnotaurus survives unharmed and leaves the cave to resume its hunt for the rest of the herd. Aladar and his friends venture deeper into the cave, but unfortunately reach a dead end and Aladar loses hope. The others convince him to try and keep going, relating how he inspired them to do the same and together, the group smash through the dead end until they finally find the Nesting Grounds on the other side. While exploring, Eema finds a large wall of boulders blocking the original entrance to the valley.
Realizing that the herd will die attempting to climb over it, Aladar rushes off alone to rescue them, although he is pursued by the surviving Carnotaurus along the way. Aladar soon catches up with Kron, Neera, and the herd just as they were about to climb the wall and suggests a safer way to the valley due to a sheer drop on the other side that would kill the herd. However, Kron selfishly refuses to listen and jealous of Aladar becoming leader, starts to attack him. The two Iguanodons end up fighting each other with Aladar getting injured in the brawl, but before Kron can deliver the final blow, Neera knocks her brother aside, saving Aladar's life as she comes to his aid. The herd eventually turn against Kron and abandon him, deciding that they should help Aladar lead them to the Nesting Grounds the safer way.
As they prepare to leave, Aladar and the others find themselves cornered as the Carnotaurus appears and confronts them, making the herd panic and causing Kron to realize that Aladar had led the carnivore right to them. However, Aladar rallies Neera and the herd to stand together and they stun the predator by unleashing bellows at it in order to get past. The Carnotaurus senses weaker prey and discovers Kron, where it starts to pursue him to the top of a cliff while Neera and Aladar follow it. When Kron eventually reaches a sheer drop that Aladar had warned him about, he realizes that the latter was right and tries to defend himself against the Carnotaurus, but the large theropod quickly overpowers Kron and mortally wounds him. As it prepares to finish Kron off, Neera saves her brother by assaulting the carnivore, but is quickly overwhelmed. However, Aladar intervenes and fights against the Carnotaurus, until the cliff it is standing on crumbles beneath it due to its weight, sending the theropod plummeting to its death into the ravine and onto the rocks below. Kron dies from his wounds and Neera mourns for the loss of her brother while Aladar comforts her.
Now as the new leader, Aladar leads the herd through the cave as a route to the Nesting Grounds where they finally find sanctuary. Some time later, a new breed of dinosaurs hatch and among them are Aladar and Neera's children. The lemurs find more of their kind and the group all begin a new life together in their new home.
- D. B. Sweeney as Aladar, a young brave, determined and compassionate Iguanodon who is adopted by a family of lemurs, and helps the herd of dinosaurs migrate and survive. He is the adoptive son of Plio, the adoptive nephew of Zini, the adoptive grandson of Yar, and the adoptive brother of Suri.
- Alfre Woodard as Plio, a lemur matriarch who cares for her family. She is the daughter of Yar, the older sister of Zini, the mother of Suri, and the adoptive mother of Aladar.
- Ossie Davis as Yar, a lemur patriarch whose occasional gruff demeanor is just a front covering his more compassionate interior. He is the father of Plio and Zini, the grandfather of Suri and the adoptive grandfather of Aladar.
- Max Casella as Zini, Aladar's best friend and wisecracking sidekick. He is the adoptive uncle of Aladar, the uncle of Suri, the younger brother of Plio and the son of Yar.
- Evan Sabara as Young Zini.
- Hayden Panettiere as Suri, Aladar's adoptive sister, Plio's daughter, Zini's niece and Yar's granddaughter.
- Samuel E. Wright as Kron, a merciless, selfish and short-tempered Iguanodon, characterized by a strict adherence to social Darwinism. He serves as the leader of the dinosaur herd survivors, but Aladar replaces him.
- Julianna Margulies as Neera, Kron's sister and Aladar's girlfriend.
- Peter Siragusa as Bruton, Kron's lieutenant Iguanodon, who is harsh and sarcastic, but becomes repentant. After Kron abandons Bruton, he is rescued by Aladar.
- Joan Plowright as Baylene, an elderly, dainty and kindhearted Brachiosaurus, who is the last of her species.
- Della Reese as Eema, a wizened, elderly and slow-moving Styracosaurus.
Paul Verhoeven on the original idea
The initial idea for the film began in 1986 during the filming of Robocop (1987) in which Phil Tippett recommended to director Paul Verhoeven that they should produce a "dinosaur picture". Verhoeven responded positively to the idea and suggested an approach inspired by Shane (1953) in which "you follow a lead character through a number of situations and moving from a devastated landscape into a promised land." Veteran screenwriter Walon Green was then brought to write the script. Verhoeven then drew two storyboards and calculated the project's preliminary budget to be $45 million. When the idea was pitched to then-Disney chairman Jeffrey Katzenberg, he suggested that the project should be budgeted at $25 million.
In 1988, the project began development in Disney's live-action division in which Verhoeven and Tippett had originally planned to use stop motion animation techniques such as puppets, scale models, and miniatures. The film's original main protagonist was a Styracosaurus named Woot and the main antagonist was originally a Tyrannosaurus rex named Grozni, with a small mammal named Suri as a supporting character. The film was originally going to be much darker and violent in tone, in a style akin to a nature documentary. After Woot defeats Grozni in a final fight, the film would end with the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which would ultimately result in the deaths of the main dinosaur characters. In 1990, producer/director Thomas G. Smith became involved in the film and briefly became the director following Verhoeven and Tippett's departure. Reflecting on his tenure, Smith described that "Jeanne Rosenberg was still writing the script, but it was in trouble. Disney wanted a cute story of dinosaurs talking, and I didn't like the idea. I thought it should be more like Jean Annaud's The Bear (1988). I wanted to have actual lemurs in it. They actually existed at the time of dinosaurs...We actually located a guy who trains them." However, Katzenberg called Smith to help on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) in which he was replaced by David W. Allen who had just finished directing Puppet Master II (1990).
After multiple months on auditioning lemurs to portray Suri and creating visual development, Allen's version also fell into development hell. Smith stated, "The thing that ultimately killed it is that Disney knew that Jurassic Park (1993) was coming along pretty well, and they knew it was being done digitally. They figured, 'Well, maybe, we should wait until we can do it digitally.'" In late 1994, Walt Disney Feature Animation began development on the project and they began shooting various tests, placing computer-generated characters in miniature model backdrops with the earlier proof of concept animation test completed in March 1996. Ultimately, the filmmakers decided to take the unprecedented route of combining live-action scenery with computer-generated character animation.
George Scribner served as the director, and he was later teamed up with Ralph Zondag as co-director. Storyboard artist Floyd Norman stated Scribner envisioned the film to be "to be more than just a struggle for survival. He wanted this dinosaur movie to have elements of fun and humor...Our director wanted to explore the fun elements of dinosaurs, such as their size, shape and texture. George also knew that since dinosaurs come in all sizes, and what wacky relationships might I come up with? What funny situations might plague a critter of such massive size?" Scribner left the project to work at Walt Disney Imagineering, in which Eric Leighton was brought to direct. The new script had an Iguanodon named Noah as the protagonist with a lemur companion named Adam, and a group of Carnotaurus as well as a rival Iguanodon named Cain playing the antagonists. The story dealt with Noah, who had the ability to see visions of the future, foreseeing the coming of an asteroid and struggling to guide a herd of other dinosaurs to safety. Further into production, Noah, Cain and Adam were renamed Aladar, Kron and Zini, and certain aspects of the story were altered further into what was later seen in the final product.
On April 17, 1996, the Walt Disney Company announced they had acquired the visual effects studio, Dream Quest Images. The studio was merged with the Feature Animation department's Computer Graphics Unit in order to form The Secret Lab. Vision Crew Unlimited provided the live-action visual effects.
To ensure realistic CG animation, 3D workbooks were created using Softimage 3D software. 48 animators worked on the film, using 300 computer processors to animate the film. Having aspired to be a paleontologist, David Krentz supervised the character design and visual development teams. With an orthographic view of the dinosaurs, his character designs were drawn on paper and were scanned into the PowerAnimator software for the modelers to rig in the computers. In the character animation department, the dinosaur characters were first visualized into the computer in skeletal form. The rough character animation were then transferred into three software programs to strengthen the visuals of the characters. The programs were "Fur Tool", in which was used for the lemurs and to create feathers and grass; "Body Builder" which was used to create skin and muscles for the dinosaur; and "Mug Shot", a shape blender that works within Alias Maya for facial animation and lip synch.
Headed by David Womersley, live-action photography units shot on actual jungle, beach, and desert locations including California, Florida, Hawaii, Australia, Jordan, Venezuela, and Western Samoa. In total, two live-action film crews shot over 800,000 feet of film, although one scene, which takes place inside a cave, utilized a computer-generated background. In order to approximate the dinosaur's perspective, visual effects supervisor Neil Krepela invented the "Dino-cam", in which a camera was rigged on a cable suspended between two 72-foot-tall towers. The computer-controlled camera allowed for panning and tilting on 360 degrees and move up to 30 miles per hour across a span of 1,000 feet. With the live-action elements shot and the character animation reaching completion, the footage was moved into the Scene Finaling department. Under Jim Hillin, the effects compositing team blended 80–90 percent of the live action plates against the computer-animated characters. The lighting department then adjusted the final lighting of the shot by changing the lighting conditions and replacing the skies.
|Dinosaur: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack|
|Film score by|
|Released||May 5, 2000|
|Producer||James Newton Howard|
|Walt Disney Animation Studios chronology|
The film's score was composed by James Newton Howard with vocals by Lebo M, who did vocals for The Lion King. In September 1999, it was reported that pop singer/songwriter Kate Bush had wrote and recorded a song for the film to be used in the scene in which Aladar and his family mourn the destruction of their island. Reportedly, the song did not respond well to preview audiences in which the producers recommended that she rewrite the song, but Bush refused. Ultimately, due to complications, the track was not included on the soundtrack.
The soundtrack album was released on May 5, 2000 by Walt Disney Records. Newton Howard would later compose the scores for the Disney animated features Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet. One track, "The Egg Travels", was heard in many trailers following the release of Dinosaur including Lilo and Stitch, Around the World in 80 Days, and The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
|1.||"Inner Sanctum/The Nesting Grounds"||2:57|
|2.||"The Egg Travels"||2:43|
|3.||"Aladar & Neera"||3:28|
|5.||"The End of our Island"||4:00|
|6.||"They're All Gone"||2:08|
|8.||"Across the Desert"||2:24|
|11.||"The Carnotaur Attack"||3:52|
|12.||"Neera Rescues the Orphans"||1:12|
|14.||"It Comes With a Pool"||3:01|
|15.||"Kron & Aladar Fight"||2:58|
Disney began the promotional rollout by attaching a teaser trailer consisting entirely of the film's opening scene to the theatrical release of Toy Story 2. The same trailer was also included on the home video release of Tarzan. A second trailer was later released in March and attached to the theatrical release to The Road to El Dorado.
To promote the release of Dinosaur, the Animal Kingdom theme park ride "Countdown to Extinction" was renamed after the film, and its plot, which had always prominently featured a Carnotaurus and an Iguanodon, was mildly altered so that the Iguanodon is specifically meant to be Aladar, the film's protagonist, and the plot of the ride is now about the riders traveling through time to a point just before the impact of the meteor which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, to bring Aladar back to the present and save his life. Additionally, a "Dinosaur Jubilee" was held at the Animal Kingdom's DinoLand U.S.A. It ran from May to July 2000, which held interactive games, music, and a display of the replica of the dinosaur Sue.
Dinosaur was released on VHS and DVD on January 30, 2001. It was also released on 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD that same day. In December 2001, Variety reported it was the fourth best-selling home video release of the year selling 10.6 million copies and garnering $198 million. It was re-released on VHS in 2002. The film was released on Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on September 19, 2006, becoming the first animated film to be released on the format. It was re-released on Blu-ray on February 8, 2011.
On May 16, 2000, Disney Interactive released a video game based on the film on a Microsoft Windows/Mac CD-ROM as part of the Activity Center series. Additionally, Disney Interactive released a tie-in video game on Dreamcast, PlayStation, PC, and Game Boy Color.
During its opening weekend, Dinosaur grossed $38.8 million in its first weekend from 3,257 theaters, for an average of $11,929 per theater beating out Gladiator and Battlefield Earth. The film grossed $137.7 million in North America and $212.1 million overseas for a worldwide total of $348.8 million.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 65% based on 122 reviews with an average score of 6.2/10. The website's consensus reads: "While Dinosaur's plot is generic and dull, its stunning computer animation and detailed backgrounds are enough to make it worth a look." On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a weighted average score of 56 out of 100, based on 32 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four, praising the film's "amazing visuals" but criticizing the decision to make the animals talk, which he felt cancelled out the effort to make the film so realistic. Ebert wrote, "An enormous effort had been spent on making these dinosaurs seem real, and then an even greater effort was spent on undermining the illusion". Todd McCarthy of Variety called it "an eye-popping visual spectacle", but later wrote "somewhere around half-way through, you begin to get used to the film's pictorial wondrousness — to take it for granted, even — and start to realize that the characters and story are exceedingly mundane, unsurprising and pre-programmed." A.O. Scott, reviewing for The New York Times, praised the opening sequence as "a visual and sonic extravaganza that the rest of the movie never quite lives up to. Those scores of animators and technical advisers have conjured a teeming pre-human world, and the first minutes of the film present it in swooping, eye-filling panorama." Summarizing the review, he later wrote that "[t]he reason to see this movie is not to listen to the dinosaurs but to watch them move, to marvel at their graceful necks and clumsy limbs and notice how convincingly they emerge into sunlight or get wet."
Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times wrote that the film "astonishes and disheartens as only the most elaborate, most ambitious Hollywood products can. A technical amazement that points computer-generated animation toward the brightest of futures, it's also cartoonish in the worst way, the prisoner of pedestrian plot points and childish, too-cute dialogue." Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune wrote "The action is easy enough to follow, and the screen is never dull. But for a story that takes place some 65 million years ago, Dinosaur is awfully reliant on recent recycled parts." Desson Howe, reviewing for The Washington Post, felt the movie "was somewhat derivative and lacked a narrative arc" and claimed it was too similar to The Land Before Time.
The lemurs depicted in the movie strongly resemble the sub-species Verreaux's sifaka. Biologists have raised concerns that the movie is misleading and could potentially confuse people, as it suggests lemurs (in their present evolved state) co-existed with dinosaurs over 66 million years ago. All modern strepsirrhines including lemurs are thought to have evolved from 'primitive' primates known as adapiforms during the Eocene (56 to 34 mya) or Paleocene (66 to 56 mya).
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- Disney DVDs & Blu-ray - DVD Collections
- Ralph Zondag (dir.), & Eric Leighton (dir.) (January 30, 2001). Dinosaur—Audio Commentary (DVD). Disc 1 of 2 (Collector's ed.). Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.
- Various cast and crew members (January 30, 2001). Dinosaur—Supplemental Features (DVD). Disc 2 of 2 (Collector's ed.). Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment.