The Jurassic Park franchise has been having a rough time of it over the past few years. Jurassic Park III, released eight years ago, performed only modestly at the box office and was generally panned by critics. It is never a good sign when the audience is rooting for the dinosaurs to eat the lead actors so that the film will end sooner.
Still, the third film was enough of a success that a fourth installment was put into development. The question was where to take the franchise. Various ideas were tried out, including one involving a squad of super-smart Velociraptor trained for special ops missions, but no one could agree on a story. Then, last December, producer Kathleen Kennedy suggested that the franchise might be dropped. Michael Crichton, who wrote two novels the films were based upon, had passed away and it seemed like a good time to retire the series.
There is still some hope that the genetically-engineered dinosaurs might come back, though. A few weeks ago producer Frank Marshall mentioned that Jurassic Park IV is still up for consideration, even if he admitted that it was a "back-burner project." The difficulty is figuring out where the films should go next, especially since the last film was so poorly regarded. The people-fleeing-from-dinosaurs-on-an-island bit has been done. The franchise needs something fresh (and not space dinosaurs), but we will have to wait and see if any writers can deliver.