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Jurassic Park at 30: How a hurricane nearly took down the iconic film

The cast and crew were left stranded on the island of Kauai

Jurassic Park (Credit: Universal Pictures)
Jurassic Park (Credit: Universal Pictures)

Jurassic Park has reached an incredible milestone in 2023, the film's 30th anniversary, but imagine if the movie had never been finished? Because a hurricane almost stopped it from doing so.

Hurricane Iniki hit the Hawaiian island of Kauai on September 11, 1992 whilst filming was still taking place on the Steven Spielberg film. At the time only about half the movie had been filmed, and the crew hadn't been made aware of the oncoming storm until the night before it hit the island.

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The natural disaster caused devastation across the island as a result of torrential rain and gale force winds of up to 145 mph, but thanks to quick thinking on the part of the cast and crew they managed to keep safe. Here's how it happened.

The Jurassic Park cast and crew learn of the storm

USA. Laura Dern , Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum in a scene from (C)Universal Pictures   film: Jurassic Park (1993).  Plot: A pragmatic paleontologist visiting an almost complete theme park is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to run loose.  Director: Steven Spielberg  Ref: LMK110-J7096-110521 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Laura Dern , Sam Neill and Jeff Goldblum in Jurassic Park (Universal Pictures).

Speaking about the event in the Netflix documentary The Movies That Made Us, Dr Alan Grant star Sam Neill shared how scared he and his co-stars Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum were about the oncoming storm when they learned about it.

"I do remember going out to the beach with Laura and Jeff. It looked like the end of the world was approaching," Neill said in the documentary.

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"Laura turned to me and she said, 'Sam, do you think we might die today?' And I said, 'You know what Laura, we might just die today."

As the storm neared the island, the crew of Jurassic Park decided to take action and began fortifying the ballroom of the hotel they were staying in by using props from the film.

JURASSIC PARK 1993 Universal Pictures film with  Sam Neill
An iconic scene in Jurassic Park where Sam Neill faces a T-Rex during a storm (Universal Pictures)

Goldblum was on hand to help, with second assistant director Michele Panelli-Venetis saying that the actor was the "man of the hour" for the way in which he helped pack and bring in provisions for everyone.

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As the film's team were doing so, Spielberg went out into the storm with director of photography Dean Cundey in order to film the storm in its early stages, and the footage can be seen in the final cut of the film before it reaches its epic climax (and that iconic T-Rex scene).

A pilot from Indiana Jones saved the day

LOS ANGELES - JUNE 12: The movie: Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark , (aka:
Fred Sorenson as Jock in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the pilot came to the rescue for the Jurassic Park crew when the storm hit. (CBS via Getty Images)

After the storm had passed the cast and crew found themselves stuck on the island, they could not leave, there was no power or water, and their provisions were starting to run low.

But producer Kathleen Kennedy, who is now the president of LucasFilm, was determined to do everything in her power to bring the cast and crew back to Los Angeles, and that meant enlisting the help of an unlikely person.

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Fred Sorenson was a pilot on Raiders of the Lost Ark, the first Indiana Jones film, and at the time of the storm he was flying for Hawaiian Airlines. Sorenson was planning on going to the island to bring supplies and Kennedy happened to meet him before he did so.

USA. Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello in a scene from (C)Universal Pictures   film: Jurassic Park (1993).  Plot: A pragmatic paleontologist visiting an almost complete theme park is tasked with protecting a couple of kids after a power failure causes the park's cloned dinosaurs to run loose.  Director: Steven Spielberg  Ref: LMK110-J7096-110521 Supplied by LMKMEDIA. Editorial Only. Landmark Media is not the copyright owner of these Film or TV stills but provides a service only for recognised Media outlets. pictures@lmkmedia.com
Ariana Richards and Joseph Mazzello in a scene from Jurassic Park that was filmed in a studio after they were rescued following the storm (Universal Pictures).

Kennedy asked for his help in returning the Jurassic Park team to Los Angeles and he agreed, and the pair flew down to the island of Kauai and successfully brought everyone back.

When they returned the cast and crew filmed the rest of the movie in a studio, and iconic scenes like the Raptor chase in the kitchen were filmed during this period.

Jurassic Park is available to rent or buy on Sky Cinema.

Watch: Palaeontologist breaks down everything Jurassic Park got wrong.