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Dinosaur Cinema Explosion

After a long lull, a stampede of dinosaur films is headed for theaters

A promotional image, featuring a baby Pachyrhinosaurus, for Walking With Dinosaurs 3-D.

Are we about to experience another burst of Dinomania? Maybe. Dinosaurs already have a ubiquitous cultural presence, but nothing drives interest in the beloved prehistoric creatures like Hollywood films. A stampede of dinosaur flicks is set to debut over the next two years.

A few dinosaur features fall somewhere on the educational spectrum. The Werner Herzog-narrated Dinotasia—a re-blended version of the miniseries Dinosaur Revolution—is set to traumatize children who have no idea who Werner Herzog is. And the long-running Walking With Dinosaurs series is scheduled to launch a 3-D sequel sometime next year. The plot for the new installment, set in Cretaceous Alaska, sounds awfully similar to the televised special March of the Dinosaurs.

Not all the upcoming dinosaur dramas are documentaries, though. Pixar recently announced the title of its 2014 feature The Good Dinosaur. The plot plays a little loose with evolutionary theory to bring people and dinosaurs in contact with each other. But the rest of the cinematic dinosaurs are not going to be so friendly. Jurassic Park will get a 3-D conversion for the movie’s 20th (!) anniversary in 2013, and not wanting to be left out, Warner Brothers is apparently working to loose  “a pack of rapidly evolving dinosaurs into the heart of contemporary Los Angeles.” The idea sounds a bit like 2001′s Evolution, which released extremely adaptable aliens into Arizona. Maybe the studio competition will turn the rumors of Jurassic Park 4 into something more tangible, but who knows? Dinosaurs vs. Aliens, one of the latest ideas to exploit the seemingly bottomless limits of the versus subgenre, may hit screens before the Jurassic Park franchise evolves.

From the looks of it, there will be a little something for everyone, from friendly manifestations of childhood dreams to rampaging, bloodthirsty tyrannosaurs. I’m hoping for beautifully rendered feathers, recently discovered dinosaurs we’ve never seen restored before, and a respect for dinosaurs that doesn’t treat them as mindless monsters or just kid’s stuff, but I guess we will have to wait and see. Non-avian dinosaurs vanished around 66 million years ago, but we love to bring them back to life on screen.

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About Brian Switek
Brian Switek

Brian Switek is a freelance science writer specializing in evolution, paleontology, and natural history. He writes regularly for National Geographic's Phenomena blog as Laelaps.

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