The story is set four years after the events of the original film and centers around the fictional Isla Sorna, a deserted island located off Central America's Pacific Coast, near Costa Rica, where the cloned dinosaurs made by John Hammond's InGen have been roaming free in their own ecosystem. Learning that his nephew, who took control of InGen, is planning to capture the Isla Sorna dinosaurs and bring them to the mainland, Hammond sends an expedition led by Dr. Ian Malcolm to arrive there before InGen's squad. The two groups confront each other in the face of extreme danger and then team up in order to survive.
After the original book's release and the first film's success, Crichton was pressured by fans for a sequel novel. After the book was published in 1995, production began on a film sequel. Filming occurred from September to December 1996, primarily in California, while also including a shoot in Kauai, Hawaii, where the previous film had shot. The Lost World's plot and imagery is substantially darker than the previous film, and the film has more extensive usage of computer-generated imagery to depict the dinosaurs, along with life-sized animatronics. The film received mixed reviews and grossed over $618 million worldwide. A sequel, Jurassic Park III, was released on July 18, 2001.
On Isla Sorna, a young girl named Cathy Bowman wanders around during a family vacation, and survives an attack by a swarm of Compsognathus. Her parents file a lawsuit against the genetics company InGen, now headed by John Hammond's nephew, Peter Ludlow, who plans to use Isla Sorna to alleviate the financial losses imposed by the incident that occurred at Jurassic Park four years earlier. Mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm meets Hammond at his mansion. Hammond explains that Isla Sorna, abandoned years earlier during a hurricane, is where InGen created their dinosaurs before moving them to Jurassic Park on Isla Nublar. Hammond hopes to stop InGen by sending a team to Isla Sorna to document the dinosaurs, thus causing public support against human interference on the island. Ian, who survived the Jurassic Park disaster, is reluctant. After learning that his girlfriend, paleontologist Dr. Sarah Harding, is part of the team and is already on Isla Sorna, Ian agrees to go to the island, but only to retrieve her.
Ian meets his teammates, Eddie Carr, an equipment specialist and engineer, and Nick Van Owen, a video documentarian and activist. After arriving on the island, they locate Sarah and discover that Ian's daughter, Kelly, had stowed away in a trailer being used as a mobile base. They then watch as another InGen team – consisting of mercenaries, hunters, paleontologists, and Ludlow – arrive to capture several dinosaurs. Meanwhile, team leader Roland Tembo, a big-game hunter, hopes to capture a male Tyrannosaurus by luring it to the cries of its injured infant. That night, Ian's team sneak into the InGen camp and learn the captured dinosaurs will be brought to a newly proposed theme park in San Diego. This prompts Nick and Sarah to free the caged dinosaurs, wreaking havoc upon the camp.
Nick also frees the infant T. rex and takes it to the trailer to mend its broken leg. After securing Kelly with Eddie, Ian realizes the infant's parents are searching for it and rushes to the trailer. As soon as Ian arrives, the infant's parents emerge on both sides of the trailer. The infant is released to the adult T. rexes, which then attack the trailer, pushing it over the edge of a nearby cliff. Eddie soon arrives, but as he tries to pull the trailer back over the edge with an SUV, the adult T. rexes return and devour him. The trailer and the SUV plummet off the cliff. Ian, Sarah, and Nick are rescued by the InGen team, along with Kelly. With both groups' communications equipment and vehicles destroyed, they team up to search for the old InGen compound's radio station on foot. Dieter, a member of the InGen hunter team, is killed by Compsognathus.
The next night, the two adult T. rexes find the group's camp, as they had followed the infant's blood scent on Sarah's jacket. The female T. rex chases the group to a waterfall cave and devours the hunter team's dinosaur expert, Dr. Robert Burke, while Roland tranquilizes the male. Much of the remaining InGen team is killed by Velociraptors while fleeing through a tall grass savannah. Nick runs ahead to the communications center at the InGen Worker's Village to call for rescue. After Ian, Sarah and Kelly reach the village, they evade raptors until a helicopter arrives and transports them off the island.
A freighter ship transports the male T. rex to San Diego, but crashes into the dock - the crew was killed. A guard opens the cargo hold, accidentally releasing the T. rex, which escapes into the city and goes on a destructive rampage. Ian and Sarah retrieve the infant T. rex from InGen's unfinished Jurassic Park San Diego facility, and use it to lure the adult back to the ship. Ludlow tries to intervene but is trapped in the cargo hold by the adult T. rex and is subsequently mauled to death by the infant. Before the adult can escape again, Sarah tranquilizes it while Ian closes the cargo hold doors. The T. rexes are escorted back to Isla Sorna, and Hammond says that the American and Costa Rican governments have agreed to declare the island a nature preserve, securing the island from any human interference, affirming that "life will find a way".Jeff Goldblum as Dr. Ian Malcolm, a mathematician and chaos theorist, and a survivor of the events on Isla Nublar from the first film.
Julianne Moore as Dr. Sarah Harding, a behavioral paleontologist and Ian's girlfriend.
Pete Postlethwaite as Roland Tembo, a big-game hunter from Kenya and the leader of the second InGen team.
Arliss Howard as Peter Ludlow, InGen's current CEO and Hammond's conniving and greedy nephew. He is the main antagonist of the film.
Richard Attenborough as John Hammond, InGen's former CEO and the park's original visionary.
Vince Vaughn as Nick Van Owen, a well-traveled and experienced documentarian and environmentalist.
Vanessa Lee Chester as Kelly Curtis, Ian's teenage daughter from a failed relationship.
Peter Stormare as Dieter Stark, the InGen team's second-in-command, under Roland Tembo.
Harvey Jason as Ajay Sidhu, Roland's immensely loyal and long-time best friend and hunting partner from India.
Richard Schiff as Eddie Carr, a timid and sardonic field equipment expert.
Thomas F. Duffy as Dr. Robert Burke, the InGen team's dinosaur expert.
Joseph Mazzello as Tim Murphy, Lex's younger brother who was with her on Isla Nublar.
Ariana Richards as Lex Murphy, John Hammond's granddaughter and a survivor of the events on Isla Nublar.
Camilla Belle as Cathy Bowman, a girl attacked by Compsognathus.
While Jurassic Park featured mostly the animatronic dinosaurs built by Stan Winston's team, The Lost World had a higher emphasis on the computer-generated imagery of Industrial Light & Magic. This led to the film featuring larger shots that offered plenty of space for the digital artists to add the dinosaurs. Although technology had not advanced much since the release of the first film, Spielberg noted that "the artistry of the creative computer people" had advanced: "There's better detail, much better lighting, better muscle tone and movement in the animals. When a dinosaur transfers weight from his left side to his right, the whole movement of fat and sinew is smoother, more physiologically correct."
Winston said, "I wanted to show the world what they didn't see in 'Jurassic Park': more dinosaurs and more dinosaur action. 'More, bigger, better' was our motto." Some of the animatronics cost $1 million and weighed nine and a half tons. Michael Lantieri, the special effects supervisor, said, "The big T. rex robot can pull two Gs of force when it's moving from right to left. If you hit someone with that, you'd kill them. So, in a sense, we did treat the dinosaurs as living, dangerous creatures."Compsognathus, nicknamed "Compies" by Stan Winston's crew, are a small carnivorous theropod which attacks in packs. Visual effects supervisor Dennis Muren considered them the most complex digital dinosaur, given their small size meant the Compys had their whole body visible and thus needed a higher sense of gravity and weight. A simple puppet Compsognathus was featured in the opening scene, and the part where Dieter Stark was killed by the pack had Peter Stormare wearing a jacket onto which various rubber Compies were attached.
Gallimimus was shown fleeing from the InGen Hunters.
Mamenchisaurus was shown in a cameo when Ian's team landed on the island.
Pachycephalosaurus was shown being hunted down by the InGen hunters.
Parasaurolophus was shown being hunted down by the InGen hunters.
Stegosaurus was, according to Spielberg, included "by popular demand". Stan Winston's team built full-sized versions of both the infant and adult Stegosaurus, but Spielberg eventually opted to employ a digital version for the adults so they could be more mobile.
Triceratops was shown being hunted down by the InGen hunters.
Tyrannosaurus is featured as a whole family, with two adults and an infant. Featuring two practical T. rexes required double the work and puppeteers, and also to have the sets built around the animatronics so they would not need to leave the soundstage. The baby T. rex had two different practical versions, a "fully contained" remote controlled version the actors could carry, and a hybrid operated by both hydraulics and cables which lay on the operating table, and had the added complexity of moving as Vince Vaughn held its head.
Velociraptor had a mechanical version which depicted the upper half of its body, and a digital full-motion computer raptor.
Pteranodon makes a very brief appearance at the film's end.
After the release of the novel Jurassic Park in 1990, Michael Crichton was pressured by fans for a sequel novel. Having never written a sequel, he initially refused. While filming the novel's film adaptation, Jurassic Park, director Steven Spielberg believed that if a sequel film were made, it would involve the retrieval of a canister that contained dinosaur DNA and that was lost during the events of the first film. Discussions about a sequel film began after the 1993 release of Jurassic Park, which became a financial success. Spielberg held discussions with David Koepp and Crichton – who both wrote the previous film – to discuss possible ideas for a sequel film. The production schedule for a second Jurassic Park film was dependent on whether Crichton would write a sequel to the first novel.
In March 1994, Crichton said there would probably be a sequel novel and sequel film, stating that he had a story idea for another novel, which would then be adapted into a film sequel. By that time, Spielberg had not committed to directing the new novel's film adaptation, as he planned to take a year off from directing. In March 1995, Crichton announced that he was nearly finished writing the novel sequel, scheduled for release later that year, although he declined to specify its title or plot. At the time of the announcement, Spielberg had signed on to produce the film adaptation, with filming to begin in summer 1996 for release in 1997. Spielberg, who was busy with his new DreamWorks studio, had not yet decided if he would direct the film, stating, "I'd love to direct it, but I just have to see. My life is changing." Joe Johnston, who offered to direct the sequel, later directed the next film, Jurassic Park III.
A production team was assembled in spring 1995, as Crichton was finishing the second novel, titled The Lost World; simultaneously, Spielberg and Koepp were developing ideas for the screenplay. Crichton's novel was published in September 1995, while Spielberg was announced as director for the film adaptation in November 1995. Production designer Rick Carter traveled to the Caribbean, New Zealand, and Central America to scout possible locations for filming. By February 1996, northern New Zealand had been chosen as a filming location rather than Kauai, Hawaii, where the previous film was shot, as the filmmakers desired to shoot the new film in a different location that would not be recognized from its predecessor. New Zealand was also chosen because it was believed to have better represented an actual dinosaur environment. Crichton had wished for the film to be shot on Kauai.
In August 1996, it was announced that Humboldt County, California had been chosen as a filming location instead of New Zealand, where filming would have been too costly. Humboldt County was chosen because of financial incentives that would keep the film's production costs low. Other locations that had been considered were Costa Rica and Oregon. Filming locations in Humboldt County were to include the redwood forests of Eureka, California. The location was picked because research indicated dinosaurs did not inhabit tropical habitats, but forests like the ones in Eureka.
The plot for Crichton's Lost World novel involved a second island of dinosaurs, with no reference to the canister of dinosaur DNA (the canister was later used as a plot aspect in a rejected early draft for Jurassic Park IV). After the novel was finished, Crichton was not consulted about the sequel, and it was not until he declined to approve certain merchandising rights that he received a copy of the script. Kathleen Kennedy, the film's executive producer who previously produced Jurassic Park, said, "In the same way Michael doesn't see writing as a collaboration, Steven went off and did his own movie. When Michael turned the book over to Steven, he knew his work was finished."
Spielberg and Koepp discarded much of the novel's scenes and ideas, choosing to devise a new story instead while including the two ideas from the novel that Spielberg liked: a second island populated with dinosaurs, and a scene in which a trailer dangles from a cliff after being attacked by T. rexes. To prepare for writing the script, Spielberg was more insistent on having Koepp watch the 1925 film, The Lost World, than he was on having him read Crichton's novel, which Koepp also did.
During an early meeting with Koepp, Spielberg determined that while the primary conflict of the original film involved herbivorous dinosaurs vs. carnivorous dinosaurs, the script for the new film should involve humans who are "gatherers" (observers of the dinosaurs) and "hunters" (who capture the dinosaurs for a zoo). Koepp said the plot of the 1962 film Hatari! – about African animals being captured for zoos – had "a big influence" on The Lost World's script. Koepp named the characters of Roland Tembo and Nick Van Owen as a reference to one of his favorite songs, "Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner", by Warren Zevon. Koepp said "since Roland is a mercenary in the song, that seemed like a good name for the hunter-for-hire in our movie. While I was at it, I thought it would be fun to make his nemesis' last name Van Owen, like in the song."
Crichton's novel revolves around Malcolm's team and a rival team led by InGen's corporate rival, Biosyn, which was written out of the film adaptation in favor of two competing InGen teams. Several characters from the novel were excluded from the film adaptation, including Lewis Dodgson, the leader of the Biosyn team; and field equipment engineer Doc Thorne, whose characteristics were partially implemented into the film's version of Eddie. Spielberg regretted excluding a scene from the script that would have depicted characters on motorcycles attempting to flee velociraptors, similar to a sequence in the novel. An alternate version of the scene was later added into the 2015 film, Jurassic World.
Dieter's death scene was ultimately inspired by John Hammond's death in the first novel, in which Procompsognathus kill him. The film's opening scene was also inspired by an early chapter in the first novel that was ultimately excluded from its film adaptation, in which a girl on a beach is bitten by a Procompsognathus. The first novel also included a scene in which characters hide behind a waterfall from a T. rex; this scene was briefly excluded from the first film as well, and was ultimately added into The Lost World: Jurassic Park. According to paleontologist Jack Horner, the film's technical advisor, part of the waterfall scene was written in as a favor for him by Spielberg. Burke greatly resembles Horner's rival Robert Bakker. In real life, Bakker argues for a predatory T. rex while Horner views it as primarily a scavenger. Spielberg had Burke written into this part to have him killed by the T. rex as a favor for Horner. After the film came out, Bakker, who recognized himself in Burke and loved it, actually sent Horner a message saying, "See, I told you T. rex was a hunter!"
In the original script, the film would briefly end with an aerial battle, where Pteranodons attack the helicopter trying to escape Isla Sorna. Three weeks before filming began, Spielberg ultimately suggested to instead have the T. rex's attack through San Diego, as he was interested in seeing dinosaurs attacking the mainland. Spielberg had initially wanted such a scene to be saved for a third film, but later decided to add it into the second film after realizing that he would probably not direct another film in the series. The sequence was inspired by a similar attack scene involving a Brontosaurus in London in the 1925 version of The Lost World, which was adapted from Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 1912 novel of the same name, both of which inspired the title for Crichton's novel. Koepp wrote a total of nine drafts for the film.
In November 1994, Richard Attenborough said that he would reprise his role as John Hammond from the previous film. In 1995, Spielberg met Vanessa Lee Chester at the premiere of A Little Princess, in which she appeared. Chester later recalled, "As I was signing an autograph for him, he told me one day he'd put me in a film." Spielberg met with Chester the following year to discuss The Lost World: Jurassic Park before ultimately casting her as Malcolm's daughter, Kelly. In April 1996, Julianne Moore was in discussions to star in the film alongside Jeff Goldblum. Spielberg had admired Moore's performance in The Fugitive. In June 1996, Peter Stormare was in final negotiations to join the cast. In August 1996, Vince Vaughn was announced to have joined the cast. Spielberg was impressed with Vaughn's performance in the film Swingers, which he saw after the filmmakers requested his permission to use music from his earlier film, Jaws. After meeting with Spielberg, Vaughn was subsequently cast without having to do a screen test.
Filming began on September 5, 1996, at Fern Canyon, a part of California's Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Filming continued for two weeks in other state parks and on private land in northern California, including Eureka. Throughout the fall of 1996, filming continued on stages at Universal Studios Hollywood. The Site B workers village was constructed there and left intact after filming to become a part of the theme park tour. For the scene where a trailer dangles from a cliff, a whole mountainside was built over the structure of Universal's multi-storey car park.
In October 1996, it was announced that filming would take place over five days in December at New Zealand's Fiordland National Park, where the film's opening sequence was to be shot. Scenes involving Hammond's residence were shot during the final week of filming, at Mayfield Senior School in Pasadena, California. Also shot in Pasadena was a scene in which Vaughn's character emerges from a lake.
In early December 1996, plans to film in Fiordland were abruptly cancelled. Principal photography concluded ahead of schedule on December 11, 1996. However, in mid-December 1996, plans were approved to shoot the opening sequence on a beach in Kauai after the cancellation of the New Zealand shoot. Filming in Kauai was underway on December 20, 1996, with plans to conclude two days later. Although Spielberg was in Kauai at the time and had visited the production, the opening sequence was filmed by a second unit crew. The film was shot on a budget of $73 million.
Although the T. rex's rampage takes place in San Diego, only one scene is actually shot there, where the InGen helicopter flies over the wharf and banks towards the city. The other sequences were all shot in Burbank, California. Scenes set in San Diego were shot behind barricades to maintain secrecy; Spielberg noted that, "It looked like road-repair work was going on." Various members of the film crew were featured running from the Tyrannosaurus, with screenwriter David Koepp playing the "Unlucky Bastard" who gets eaten during a scene set in San Diego.
Inspired by how Jurassic Park featured the Ford Explorer, Mercedes-Benz signed an endorsement deal to introduce in the film its first sports utility vehicle, the M320. Spielberg did not allow for rehearsals among the cast, stating, "You want to capture the actors when they taste the words for the first time, when they look at each other for the first time–that's the sort of magic you can only get on a first or second take." Cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, who had worked with Spielberg in Schindler's List, was brought onto the project to give a darker, more artistic look to the film, leading to a "more elegant and rich" approach focused on contrast and shadow.
For the sequel, composer John Williams avoided using most of the previous film's main themes, writing a more action oriented score. The soundtrack was released on May 20, 1997. It, along with the soundtrack to the first movie, was re-released and remastered on November 29, 2016.
The Lost World: Jurassic Park premiered on May 19, 1997, at a Cineplex Odeon theater in Universal City, California. The Los Angeles Times called the premiere "low-key". The film received a wider release on May 23, 1997. Fox Network paid $80 million for the broadcasting rights of The Lost World, which debuted on November 1, 1998. The television version was expanded with deleted scenes, that included John Hammond's ouster by InGen executives.
On February 10, 1997, Universal announced a $250 million marketing campaign with 70 promotional partners. The marketing campaign was even more extensive than with Jurassic Park. The leading partners were Burger King, whose promotion was concurrent with one for another Universal dinosaur-based franchise, The Land Before Time; JVC and Mercedes-Benz, whose products are featured in the movie; and Timberland Co., making its first film tie-in. Another partner was a then-sister company of Universal under Seagram, Tropicana Products. Other promotional partners included Hamburger Helper and Betty Crocker, while General Mills introduced Jurassic Park Crunch cereal. Derivative works included various video games, including both a pinball machine and an arcade game by Sega, and a four-part comic series released by Topps Comics.
Other promotional items included a toy line of action figures by Kenner and remote-controlled vehicles by Tyco, as well as a board game by Milton Bradley Company. Also produced were Hershey's chocolate bars that featured holographic dinosaur patterns. Universal hoped for promotional profits to exceed $1 billion.
In December 1996, a special version of the film's teaser trailer debuted at 42 theaters in the United States and Canada, at a cost of $14,000 for each theater; the trailer made use of synchronized strobe lights that mimicked lightning during a rain scene. The film's first trailer was aired on January 26, 1997, during Super Bowl XXXI. A detailed website for the film was also created, and provided backstory for characters and events that were not referenced in the film. Shortly after the film's release, hackers broke into the website and briefly changed the film's logo to feature a duck instead of a T. rex. The film's title in the logo was also changed to The Duck World: Jurassic Pond. Universal denied that the hacking was a publicity stunt to promote the film, stating that it was traced to a "16-year-old hacker kid from back East." The website was still online as of 2015.
The film made its VHS and LaserDisc debut on October 21, 1997. The DVD was first released on October 10, 2000, and also made available in a package with predecessor Jurassic Park. The films were also featured in a deluxe limited edition box set featuring both the DVDs and soundtrack albums of the two films, two lenticulars, stills from both films, and a certificate of authenticity signed by all three producers of the set, all inside a collector case. After the release of sequel Jurassic Park III, box sets including all three movies were also made available, as Jurassic Park Trilogy on December 11, 2001, and as the Jurassic Park Adventure Pack on November 29, 2005. The Lost World was first made available on Blu-ray on October 25, 2011 as part of a trilogy release.
Following four years of growing anticipation and hype, The Lost World broke many box office records upon its release. It took in $72,132,785 on its opening weekend ($92.6 million for the four-day Memorial Day holiday) in the U.S., which was the biggest opening weekend at the time, surpassing the previous record-holder Batman Forever at $52.8 million. It held onto this record for four and a half years, until the release of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone in November 2001. The Lost World took the record for highest single-day box office take of $26,083,950 on May 25, a record held until the release of Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. It also became the fastest film to pass the $100 million mark, achieving the feat in just six days. However, despite these records, its total box office gross fell below the total of the original film. With grossing $229,086,679 domestically and $389,552,320 internationally, the film ended up grossing $618,638,999 worldwide, becoming the second highest-grossing film of 1997 behind Titanic. The film sold an estimated 49,910,000 tickets in North America.
Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 53%; 36 out of 68 reviewers gave it a positive review. The consensus summary reads: "The Lost World demonstrates how far CG effects have come in the four years since Jurassic Park; unfortunately, it also proves how difficult it can be to put together a truly compelling sequel." Another aggregator Metacritic gives the film a weighted average rating of 59/100 based on reviews from 18 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews."
Roger Ebert, who gave the first film three stars, gave The Lost World only two, writing that "It can be said that the creatures in this film transcend any visible signs of special effects and seem to walk the earth, but the same realism isn't brought to the human characters, who are bound by plot conventions and action formulas." Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune also gave the film two stars and said, "I was disappointed as much as I was thrilled because 'The Lost World' lacks a staple of Steven Spielberg's adventure films: exciting characters. [...] Even in the original 'Jurassic Park,' the dinosaurs – not to mention the human beings – had more distinct personalities than they have here. Save for superior special effects, 'The Lost World' comes off as recycled material." Conversely, Kevin Thomas of the Los Angeles Times saw improved character development over the original, saying, "It seemed such a mistake in Jurassic Park to sideline early on its most interesting character, the brilliant, free-thinking and outspoken theorist Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) with a broken leg, but in its most inspired stroke, The Lost World brings back Malcolm and places him front and center," calling it "a pleasure to watch such wily pros as Goldblum and Attenborough spar with each other with wit and assurance." The dinosaurs were even more developed as characters, with Stephen Holden of The New York Times saying, "The Lost World, unlike Jurassic Park, humanizes its monsters in a way that E.T. would understand." Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B grade; he remarked, "Mr. T-Rex was cool in the first Spielberg flick, sure, but it wasn't until [it was in] San Diego that things got crazy-cool. It's the old 'tree falling in the woods' conundrum: Unless your giant monster is causing massive property damage, can you really call it a giant monster?"
Spielberg confessed that during production he became increasingly disenchanted with the film, admitting, "I beat myself up... growing more and more impatient with myself... It made me wistful about doing a talking picture, because sometimes I got the feeling I was just making this big silent-roar movie... I found myself saying, 'Is that all there is? It's not enough for me.'"