10 Key Differences Between the Jurassic Park Movie and Novel 🦖

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton was published in 1990 and was followed by a high-grossing feature film in 1993. Both are beloved by audiences but few know the true differences between the two versions of Jurassic Park. 

Jurassic Park

Michael Crichton 

Many parts of the book and film correspond, such as the main characters, the general premise, many deaths, and more. But, Steven Spielberg changed other important details when adapting Michael Crichton’s novel into a feature film. Explore the major differences between the Jurassic Park film and the novel below.

Main Differences Between the Jurassic Park Movie and Novel

The Opening Scenes

The novel begins with a girl on the beach getting attacked by Compies (the beginning chosen for the second film, The Lost World). 

John Hammond’s Intentions

Hammond’s lawyer, Gennaro, who shows more backbone in the book than in the film, reminds Hammond that their investors have serious concerns about the park. But Hammond brushes his concerns off, suggesting (as his film version repeatedly does) that he’s not interested in making money. He’s interested in capturing the world’s imagination and ensuring that everyone, no matter their economic situation, can see his creations. 

In the book, Hammond is much closer to the villain than he is in the movie (where he plays the role of a well-meaning but ignorant grandfather). It becomes clear as the novel progresses that Hammond may say the right things about letting anyone visit the park, but he doesn’t mean it. He is in it for the money.

Alan Grant Getting Along with Children

When the film begins, viewers are nearly immediately taken to a paleontological dig in Montana, where Dr. Alan Grant is working with Dr. Ellie Sattler. They find an intact velociraptor fossil, and an immediate difference between the film and the book Alan Grant is made clear. The former struggles to understand children and can’t understand why Dr. Sattler would ever want to have one

Lex and Tim

In the book, Tim is the older sibling, and Lex is the younger. She’s interested in baseball and not much else, while Tim is knowledgeable about computers and dinosaurs. In the film, Spielberg chose to make Lex the older sibling and give her computer knowledge. 

Ian Malcolm’s Fate

At the novel’s end, Ian Malcolm succumbs to the wounds he received earlier on, while in the film, he survives. In the second novel, it turns out that Malcolm didn’t die (likely due to Crichton wanting to bring back a much-loved character). 

Dr. Wu plays a larger role in the novel

In the book, unlike in the movie, he spends more time explaining how Jurassic Park works and what he’s done to create the creatures. He’s depicted as the single mastermind behind the entire genetic program. He, like Hammond, is one of the villains of the novel. 

The novel is more gruesome than the film

In Crichton’s novel, he spends more time discussing the deaths of the major characters and how terrifying the dinosaurs are. For example, Crichton dedicates several passages to describing Dennis Nedry’s death. Likely because he’s such an unlikable character, and it was clear that readers would want him to get what he deserved. The same can be said for when Dr. Henry Wu is killed by the raptors, and John Hammond is killed by the Compies. 

John Hammond dies in the novel

In the end, someone unexpectedly, John Hammond, is killed by cops, a pack of small dinosaurs. Crichton allows his arrogance to get the best of him, and he’s destroyed by his own ambitious creation. Interestingly, in the novel, a Compy bite is toxic, making an attack far more serious. 

The park is bombed by the Costa Rican government

At the end of the novel, the Costa Rican government bombs the island in an attempt to keep any other dinosaurs from escaping to the main (as they do in the novel). 

Dinosaurs have already escaped the island in the novel

When the novel begins, it’s immediately clear that the dinosaurs are not confined to John Hammond’s island and the developing park. The first scene takes place on the Costa Rican mainland and features a vacationing family. 

The daughter, who wanders off from her parents, is attacked by Compies. One of the small dinosaurs is recovered and taken to a lab where scientists ponder its origins. Alan Grant hears about this discovery before visiting the island.


What is the difference between Jurassic Park and Jurassic World?

Between the events that occur in the Jurassic Park film and that which takes place in Jurassic World, 22 years have passed. Interestingly, the Jurassic World universe makes some manger changes to fundamental features of the previous film series. Perhaps most clearly, the fact that there was a second island that was featured in The Lost World and Jurassic Park III. 

Is Jurassic Park book accurate?

In Crichton’s Jurassic Park, many of the details he relays closely resemble what paleontologists believe about dinosaur behavior. But, many other elements are simple suppositions needed to fill in missing information and create a thrilling plot line. 

Was Jurassic Park a book before a movie?

Yes, Jurassic Park was a book by Michael Crichton and was published in 1990 before it was a movie. Steven Spielberg adapted the book into a movie three years later, in 1993. Today, far more people have seen the movie than have read the book. 

Is the Jurassic Park movie or book better?

Whether or not the Jurassic Park movie or book is better is entirely up to each individual. But, most people who have seen the film and read the book prefer the gory, real-feeling details in Crichton’s novel to the general warmth and happy-go-lucky attitude conveyed throughout much of Spielberg’s adaption.

Emma Baldwin
About Emma Baldwin
Emma graduated from East Carolina University with a BA in English, minor in Creative Writing, BFA in Fine Art, and BA in Art Histories. Literature is one of her greatest passions which she pursues on Book Analysis.
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