The new Jurassic World trailer debuted this week, depicting a story audiences have seen time and time again. A park operations manager and a raptor trainer team up to capture an escaped creature: a young, sexy, genetically modified hybrid dinosaur. Our screens are oversaturated with the flawless faces of these attractive, barely-legal mega-monsters. Jurassic World is only a symptom of this disease. Which begs the question: why are studios not writing movies for dinosaurs over 40 million years old?
Surely older dinosaurs, who have lived longer and have more life experience, would have dynamic, watchable stories to tell? But no. Hollywood gives the roles to more youthful, marketable Therapods: Littlefoot, Cera, and Duckie from the Land Before Time. Dino from The Flintstones. Baby Sinclair from Dinosaurs.
Meanwhile, there’s no shortage of roles for old humans, proving the double standard. “The problem is that these younger dinosaurs just look better. Have you seen the T-Rex from the original Jurassic Park? People want a dinosaur they would have sex with AND be terrified of.” Says Allison Peters, a senior casting agent who has handled projects like The Land of the Lost, Barney, and Toy Story. “Nobody pays to see a Carnotaurus who looks like it could be their grandmother ripping apart a human. Listen, I don’t make the rules.”
If they do book one of these rare parts, older dinosaurs are often relegated to play the pitiable stock character. They portray the “mommy” dinosaur who sits on the nest of eggs, or the old herbivore that everyone is allowed to touch. For older dinosaur actors, it’s limiting.
Yes, there have been some historically significant roles for older dinosaurs. We can’t forget the comedic genius of the skeleton T-Rex in Night at the Museum, or Cecilia in the oft-forgotten animated film We’re Back!. These roles only go to show that audiences are ready. Older dinosaurs can be scary, they can be sexy, they can be compelling. Moving forward, it’s up to a new generation of screenwriters – and dinosaurs themselves – to write marketable roles for dinosaurs over 40 million years old.