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T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous is a 1998 American edutainment adventure film shot for the IMAX 3D format. The film is directed by Brett Leonard. Executive producer/co-writer Andrew Gellis and producers Antoine Compin and Charis Horton also make up the production team. Liz Stauber and Peter Horton star, alongside Kari Coleman, Tuck Milligan, and Laurie Murdoch. The film is among the few IMAX films that are considered "pure entertainment", though it still is considered rather educational by the mainstream audience.

T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous
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Release poster
Directed byBrett Leonard
Produced by
  • Antoine Compin
  • Charis Horton
Written by
  • Andrew Gellis
  • Jeanne Rosenberg
  • David Young
Music byWilliam Ross
CinematographyAndrew Kitzanuk
Edited byJonathan P. Shaw
Distributed byIMAX
Release date
  • October 23, 1998 (1998-10-23)
Running time
45 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$14.5 million[2]
Box office$104 million[3]



The plot revolves around 16-year-old Ally Hayden (Liz Stauber), the daughter of Dr. Donald Hayden (Peter Horton), a world-famous paleontologist and museum curator. She loves dinosaurs and longs to be able to accompany him to one of the nearby paleontological digs, but her father thinks this is too dangerous and she has to settle for giving museum tours instead.

A mysterious accident at the lab revolving an oblong fossil rock happens while Ally's father is away at a dig site with his assistant (Kari Coleman), and Ally is magically transported back in time. Among the various time periods she visits are the Late Cretaceous, when the Tyrannosaurus and Pteranodon existed.

Ally is also transported to the early 20th Century where she meets renowned historical figures in the world of paleontology. These include dinosaur painter Charles Knight (Tuck Milligan) and paleontologist Barnum Brown (Laurie Murdoch), arguably one of the most famous paleontologists in early fossil-hunting history.

The shining moment of her trip to the past, however, is when Ally discovers a T. rex nest and then defends the nest from an Ornithomimus, earning the mother T. rex's respect to the point where Ally actually strokes the T. rex on its snout before the meteor is shown hitting the earth, blasting Ally back into the present day. There, she is reunited with her father.

At the very end, as Ally and her dad leave the museum, the fossil rock begins to shake and, with only the museum cat watching, the rock breaks apart, revealing a still living, baby Tyrannosaurus.


Dinosaurs and other reptiles


Principal photography began on September 22, 1997, on location at Dinosaur Provincial Park in the Badlands region of Alberta, Canada, and near the town of Brooks. Filming began by capturing the scenes in which Ally Hayden time-travels back to the turn of the century to go on expedition with famous bone-hunter Barnum Brown.

Filming continued for two weeks on location in Dinosaur Provincial Park. Yet the filmmakers faced a challenge in finding a realistic environment to set the live-action filming portion for the Cretaceous period sequences when Ally finds herself wandering amidst the lush vegetation of 66 million years ago. The location used to film Cretaceous period scenes in the end was in the Olympia rain forest in upper Washington state.

The special considerations that must be made when working with IMAX 3D presentation also made it crucial that the background features of the shooting locations were ideal.

Besides shooting locations, extensive computer-generated imagery was also employed to ensure the realism of the dinosaurs depicted in the film. Models had to be sculpted and digitized, with details such as texturing crucial to the process. The filmmakers of the next year's television documentary series Walking with Dinosaurs also faced similar challenges.


The film received positive notices from critics. On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a 70% rating from 20 critics.[4]


  1. ^ "T-REX BACK TO THE CRETACEOUS (U)". British Board of Film Classification. November 11, 1998. Retrieved April 25, 2015.
  2. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on January 12, 2017. Retrieved October 5, 2016.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous (IMAX) (1998)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved June 3, 2016.
  4. ^ T-Rex: Back to the Cretaceous at Rotten Tomatoes

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