Recently, a lot of questions in a research project regarding the timeline of the franchise came up in the upper-echelons of the staff portion of the board in regards to what’s considered canon and what’s not in the Encyclopedia. One of the greatest things about Jurassic Park is that it actually brings the world from long ago to a more modernized now. True, Jurassic Park doesn’t accurately reflect actual Paleontology. Example, you’d be lucky to find a Deinonychus or other fossil that well preserved in the field. Either Dr. Grant just is psychic or he’s secretly Merlin (see another film that Sam Neill is in known as “Merlin”). The biggest confusing portion of Jurassic Park is honestly the continuity and the common fallacy is the “hybrid it with other variations to make a complete canon” logic. Sometimes this can be done, but other times it hurts the continuity a lot in the end.
So what is essentially considered canon and what is not? It really depends on the universe you choose to meddle with really. Jurassic Park, from what I’ve found, is distinct in how each universe is more or less an alternate, but yet similar reality of one another with no clear intersect point for every universe. It looks like because it’s all different media it would really use different continuity for each “timeline”. Here’s a brief write out I did of how the JP continuity works:
C-Canon – Crichton Canon/Novel Canon. This is the novel canon only. The only reason this exists is due to the novels being the “starting” medium. Considered the Alpha universe as it’s the first one made and therefore the source material. The novels have really no “supplements” to canon is the interesting aspect. Suggestive reason for this is the fact the films are more popular.
S-Canon – Spielberg Canon/Film Canon. This encompasses the films, cast & crew interviews, official media such as Making of Books and other various “movie-oriented” sources. Spielberg Canon is where all the films and their supplements originate from. They are mostly their own beast as they have an entirely different continuity from what is read in the novel. What sources are considered to be film canon, S-Canon. or Spielberg Canon?
1.) The films themselves obviously. Spielberg had ties with all three.
2.) Cutscenes – What this is in regards to is scene remnants or scenes that were originally meant to be included but were cut due to run-time constraints and would have only furthered the story.
In order for a cutscene to be considered canon it must be true for the media to be present of this scene in various places including, but not limited to: Screen capture from cut scene, film clip showing the scene, and lastly audio file. Audio files are suspect and can be forged however, so it would pend review. Examples of this include: Ellie grabbing Leaf, Ellie and Muldoon walking to power shed, extended Grant and kids through park walking, the board room scene, meeting with Roland and Ajay, etc would all be considered within valid canon as reasons for their elimination were not due to continuity, but rather shortening of run-time. While this is disputed and debatable, it is still adhered to in our continuity timelines due to the reasons behind the elimination.
What precludes this clause and makes something uncanon that was cut? If said scene takes place in script, but is shortened or changed during filming then film canon takes priority. Examples of this include: Extended dialog between two or more characters where no screenshot is present, different endings, etc. The rule of thumb is the scripts are not canon for this reason as they attempt to overwrite established continuity and generally even the final revisions of the scripts fit into this category as they are changed at some point during filming.
3.) Supplemental Material this includes The Making of Books, featurettes in the films, making-of documentaries, Interviews from the cast/crew of the film, The props (If it’s seen in the film it’s canon and if it’s not in the film it’s not canon.). Mark ‘Crash’ McCreery art. (Similar to acceptance like the props – if it isn’t exact to the film it is not canon), the Jurassic Park Traveling Exhibits (they basically explain the science in the films, but bring the props to the forefront as well as the movie dinosaurs too), Official Souvenir Magazines (Official Movie Trading cards fall under here, where applicable and so long as this doesn’t override the film), The Dinosaurs of Jurassic Park/The Lost World Scrapbook (Published by Scholastic), The Jurassic Park Institute: Dinosaur Field Guide (Some information pertaining to animals referenced in the film) and cold hard paleontological fact (We’re talking dinosaurs here)!
4.) Jurassic Newsletters (Ambiguous canon at best, not very reliable and should be considered last. It is muddled with hybrid novel/film canon; however, the film events, workings, etc can be extracted so long as they do not contradict the finished product seen on screen.) and The Rides (Only events of course referencing the movies, events, animal behavior, or places from the film). The rides are a tricky subject as they are set into a metaverse like the newsletters where with bridging the gap in our world. What can be trusted exactly? The props from the film you see of course, the behavior of the movie dinosaurs, and some of the events from Isla Nublar that is discussed on the rides.
CB-Canon – Comic Book canon, functional continuity that alters the events of the films due to being made off of final script revisions differing enough to not match the film closely.
JN-Canon – Novelette Canon, functional continuity that alters the events of the films due to being made off of final script revisions differing enough to not match the film closely.
U-Canon – Noncanon elements such as games & toys with no functional continuity
That pretty much covers everything on what’s canon, how the universes are, and what’s considered. So how does anybody arrive to these determinations of what canon is when no otherwise “official word” is present other than a few loose words here and there from a few people in charge (e.g, Rick Carter and Michael Crichton specifically)? The fact is canon is never about your personal want nor can it be for personal opinion so much. The fact is that “I want” shouldn’t and doesn’t exist in this unless you have proof and it’s really not a justification point either. It’s almost as annoying as justifying something with “Because.” and nothing more. So what’s this say about us? What did we do? Whenever we say something isn’t canon it’s justified as we cite the reasons why and the specifics behind.
So say you are making a project and you are worried about criticism from us because you fear you don’t fit into canon. Relax! We’re not in the business here to criticize your work and scrutinize it with a harsh eye and a sharp tongue. I personally find fan projects that don’t readily consider continuity fun actually. Now if you decide to ask about how to make your project fit in the continuity, we’ll gladly explain how it would be violating continuity and we even suggest alternatives if you’re open to altering your story. Example, look at Live the Legend we take a lot of creative liberties with it to make it interesting, but we still try to keep the continuity grounded within the original source and at the same time making our own.
Look for part two of this soon when I bore you more on the science behind the dinosaur classifications and why taxonomy with fake dinosaurs can be fun too.