'Jurassic World' Speaks A Universal Language

Jun 16, 2015
Originally published on June 19, 2015 2:05 pm
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

"Jurassic World" is in the record books. The film had the most successful opening for a movie ever last weekend. It raked in more than a half-billion dollars worldwide. The movie was number one in every country where it played, including China. And Hollywood's fortunes are depending more on how films do there. Here's NPR's Neda Ulaby.

NEDA ULABY, BYLINE: "Jurassic World" speaks a universal language - the language of dinosaurs. There's nothing in the plot geared specifically for Chinese audiences, but we're talking about a country filled with newly-constructed movie theaters and a rising middle class hungry to visit them.

JONATHAN LANDRETH: The box office growth has been astounding.

ULABY: Jonathan Landreth runs a website called ChinaFile. He says China's the second-biggest market for movies after the U.S., but it only allows 34 Hollywood movies to officially screen a year. That's to head off competition for its own emerging film industry and maybe there's a bit of censorship there, too. But the relationship between China and Hollywood is getting tighter, he says, even interdependent. The second-largest U.S. movie chain, AMC, is owned by a Chinese company. Of course, many of its hundreds of screens are playing "Jurassic World."

There's only one actor who's in both the very first "Jurassic Park" movie and "Jurassic World." He happens to be Chinese-America. Actor BD Wong plays the genius scientist who creates these giant beasts. And Landreth says the filmmakers seem to be appealing to another huge international market.

LANDRETH: The film stars an Indian actor called Irrfan Khan.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD")

IRRFAN KHAN: (As Simon Masrani) Oh, it's white. You never told me it was white.

ULABY: Khan plays the billionaire who owns the Jurassic World theme park. The actor's a major star in Bollywood.

LANDRETH: And it's a reminder that there is this other movie culture out there that is able to travel.

ULABY: Jonathan Landreth says "Jurassic World's" success is partly because the experience of watching it in a theater is completely different from a fuzzy, pirated version on a laptop.

LANDRETH: And the adrenaline that you get watching one of these movies where the soundtrack itself rattles the seats - it's new. I mean, that's the simple answer. It's new.

ULABY: And Landreth points out that another new thing for China will be the Universal Studios theme park that's scheduled to open in 2019.

LANDRETH: "Jurassic World's" a universal film.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "JURASSIC WORLD")

BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD: (As Claire) You think it'll scare the kids?

ULABY: Consider the pump primed. Neda Ulaby, NPR News.

GREENE: Epic music - it's NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.