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First you hear the roar of dinosaurs… then the screams. Every few minutes, the swells of John Williams’ iconic score stir up again, and the vocal terror of thousands of families being scared by an animatronic T. rex can be heard ringing through the Universal Studios Hollywood amusement park, where Jurassic Park: The Ride remains a hugely popular attraction. What most riders don’t know is that just several hundred feet away on the movie studio’s backlot, director J.A. Bayona (A Monster Calls) is combing through footage of the latest installment in the series, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the cover of EW’s Summer Movie Preview issue.
After seeing Steven Spielberg’s 1993 original, a young Bayona was transformed. “I remember perfectly that I felt I was watching a moment in movie history,” says the Barcelona native. “I thought from that moment on, everything you could imagine, no matter how crazy that could be, would be possible to see on screen in a realistic way. It was movie history.”
Now Bayona is poised to make his own history with Kingdom, which arrives in theaters on June 22 and is the highly anticipated sequel to 2015’s Jurassic World. That film, costarring Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, finally opened the dinosaur theme park promised in the original film and naturally led to bloody chaos. (The film would also go on to gross more than $1.6 billion worldwide, making it the most successful installment in the series.)
Bayona’s Kingdom is perhaps the most ambitious Jurassic film to date, with a genre-shifting twist halfway through the film: The island is destroyed and the action moves to an enormous American estate where characters are trapped indoors with a rampaging new terror, the Indoraptor. Think Jurassic meets Panic Room. “The first half, you have a whole dinosaur movie on the island, so you have what you expect from a Jurassic movie,” says Bayona. “Then the second half moves to a totally different environment that feels more suspenseful, darker, claustrophobic, and even has this kind of gothic element, which I love.” The only other time the Jurassic franchise has seen the dinosaurs leave their tropical locales was the climactic moments of 1997’s The Lost World: Jurassic Park, when the T. rex stampeded San Diego. Adds Pratt, “At the end of the day, we’re all trying to make something that will be part of the Jurassic empire and tonally match the previous movies, but we’re going off in a new direction.”
That also meant the shoot was more physically demanding than the previous installment. “We upped the stunt game,” says Pratt. The actors ran, swam, and screamed for months during the production which shot in both the United Kingdom and Hawaii. Pratt then had to face some personal challenges once filming ended. Last December, the actor filed for divorce from his wife, Anna Faris, after eight years of marriage, which produced a son, Jack, now 5. They separated in July 2017, shortly after Kingdom wrapped production. “Divorce sucks,” says Pratt. “But at the end of the day, we’ve got a great kid who’s got two parents who love him very much. And we’re finding a way to navigate this while still remaining friends and still being kind to one another. It’s not ideal, but yeah, I think both of us are actually probably doing better.”
Now the question is whether audiences are ready for this whole new World. “I feel like anxiety is a burden of the hyper-intelligent,” says Pratt with a laugh. “It’s someone else’s job to worry about that. I just show up, stand on the X, say the lines, and give them all three of my scared faces.”
For more on Fallen Kingdom and this summer’s most anticipated movies, including Ocean’s 8 and Solo: A Star Wars Story, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday.