Jurassic Park vs Last Action Hero: The Marketing Battle

The anticipation got to the point where, even in the UK, a half hour special was given out to Spielberg and the Dinosaurs ahead of the film’s release, replacing the slot for one night vacated by the end of the late Terry Wogan’s chat show. This was on prime time BBC One, causing eyebrows to be raised about the Beeb giving basically an ad slot to the movie. But millions of people eagerly lapped it up.

read more: Jurassic Park Was Almost a James Cameron Movie

Screenings for exhibitors in the U.S. took place in late May 1993 and did nothing to put the fire of hype out. The word of mouth on the film was ecstatic, and Jurassic Park–remember these days?–made it to the screen with most of its secrets and spoilers still in tact. It was one of those rare moments where the quality of the film, the quality of the promotional work, and the skill at getting the message across without ruining the movie, all came together.

Last Action Hero, however, was increasingly to resort to TV spots showcasing the action of the film’s third act. Only when their clear rival’s action movie was in theaters did Universal really start to release footage of Jurassic Park’s most deadly dinosaurs. We’ll come to that shortly.

How Last Action Hero Fell

Contrasting with Jurassic Park, the eagerness of the press to lap up details of the impending dinosaur invasion was very different to the way the media approached Last Action Hero. Here, there was already in play a feeling that Arnold Schwarzenegger was due a fall, and what better than the first movie on which he took an executive producer credit? With Columbia boss Mark Canton also declaring the year before release that he’d be judged on his summer 1993, success or otherwise, knives were being sharpened.

That said, there was no shortage of fuel for negative headlines outside of Canton and Schwarzenegger. Rumors (proven correct) of script problems dogged the production, and there were genuine concerns that the film would struggle to hit its planned June 18, 1993 release date in the U.S. Given that this date had been earmarked by Columbia boss Mark Canton, and had been trailed for six months, the studio was boxed into a corner. Filming hadn’t even started in earnest until November 1992. This wasn’t the digital era either. Film had to be printed, reels unspooled, edits done physically, and there would barely be the time to do it.

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