Dinosaur (film)

This article is about the film. For the video game, see Disney's Dinosaur (video game). For the park attraction, see Dinosaur (Disney's Animal Kingdom).

Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by Pam Marsden
Screenplay by
Story by
  • John Harrison
  • Robert Nelson Jacobs
  • Thom Enriquez
  • Ralph Zondag
Music by James Newton Howard
  • David Hardberger
  • S. Douglas Smith
Edited by H. Lee Peterson
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release dates
  • May 19, 2000 (2000-05-19) (United States)
  • October 13, 2000 (2000-10-13) (United Kingdom)
Running time
82 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $127.5 million[1]
Box office $349.8 million[1]

Dinosaur is a 2000 American live-action/CGI adventure film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and The Secret Lab and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 39th Disney animated feature film and Disney's first non-Pixar computer animated feature,[2] though it is not officially labeled as one of the animated classics in the United Kingdom, where The Wild (2006) is included in the canon instead.[3] Originally a stand-alone film, it was not included in the canon until 2008.[4]

The film follows an orphaned Iguanodon who, as a friend of the lemurs, after surviving a devastating meteor, are moving out for their new home. Along the way, they befriend and reunite the remaining herd of dinosaurs who are being pursued by predators, such as the Carnotaurus, while on a journey to the "Nesting Grounds".

While the characters in Dinosaur are computer-animated, most of the film's backgrounds are live-action and were filmed on location. A number of backgrounds were found in Canaima National Park in Venezuela; various tepuis and Angel Falls also appear in the film. It is the second film (after Fantasia 2000) produced by Disney Animation Studios to feature computer-generated three-dimensional animation. At officially $127.5 million, it was the most expensive theatrical film release of the year.[1] The film was a financial success, grossing over $349 million worldwide in total box office revenue, becoming the fifth highest-grossing film of 2000.[1]


A Carnotaurus ambushes and chases an infant Parasaurolophus, causing a stampede that forces an Iguanodon mother to abandon her nest. The one surviving egg journeys through several predicaments via the flight of a Pteranodon, before ending up on a far away island populated by lemurs. A female lemur Plio names the hatched baby Aladar and raises him. Years later, Aladar and the lemurs take part in the mating ritual, where Aladar's adoptive uncle and best friend Zini goes without a mate. Moments after the ritual ends, a giant meteor strikes and spreads numerous exploding fireballs that destroy the island and kill the rest of the lemurs. Aladar, Plio, Zini, Yar and Suri flee and jump across the sea to the mainland, and mourn for their losses before moving on.

While crossing deserted wastelands, they are ambushed by a pack of Velociraptor. After escaping from them, the family comes across a remaining multi-species herd of dinosaurs led by Kron and Bruton, who are on a journey to reach the "Nesting Grounds", a valley said to be untouched by the meteor. As Aladar and the lemurs befriend a trio of elderly dinosaurs, Kron permits them to follow behind them. Together, they migrate to a lake they have relied on for past trips. Though it has seemingly dried up because of the meteor, Aladar and Baylene discover the water is buried under the lake's dried surface, thereby saving the herd from dehydration. Impressed by Aladar's compassionate ways, Kron's sister Neera begins to fall in love with him. Meanwhile, two Carnotaurus pick up the herd's trail and begin stalking them for food. They attack Bruton, who barely escapes and warns Kron that they are coming. Kron picks up the pace and quickly evacuates the herd, leaving Aladar's family, the older dinosaurs and Bruton behind, while the Carnotaurus are in pursuit some distance away. During a rainstorm, the stragglers spend the night in a cave and Plio heals Bruton, before being found and attacked by the Carnotaurus. Bruton saves the others and sacrifices himself to kill one of the Carnotaurus by causing a cave-in. As the rest of the group move through the cave, the second Carnotaurus survives and resumes its search for the herd.

Aladar loses hope when they reach a dead end, but the others convince him to keep going, relating how he inspired them to do the same. After they knock down the dead end together and successfully find the Nesting Grounds on the other side, Eema sees a large wall of rocks blocking the original entryway to the valley. Knowing that the herd will die attempting to climb over it, Aladar rushes off alone to find them, but the Carnotaurus pursues him. As Aladar arrives to warn the herd about the landslide and suggests the safer way to the valley, Kron furiously attacks him until Neera stops Kron, and the herd seeing Kron's anger, decides to abandon him, taking Aladar as their new leader. As they prepare to leave, the Carnotaurus confronts them. Aladar rallies the herd to stand together, and they bellow their way past the predator, who follows Kron. Aladar and Neera fight against the Carnotaurus until it falls off the cliff to its death. Kron dies from his injuries, with Aladar and Neera mourning for him.

The herd are led back to the Nesting Grounds as their new home. A new generation of dinosaurs hatches sometime later, along with Aladar and Neera's children, and the lemurs find more of their kind.

Voice cast


While a dinosaur-related computer-animated film had been contemplated for over a decade, the film finally went into production when it did, as "the technology to produce the stunning visual effects" had come about - a few years before Dinosaur's eventual release in 2000. The CGI effects are coupled with "real-world backdrops to create a 'photo-realistic' look".

The crew went all around the world, in order to "record dramatic nature backgrounds" for the film, which were then "blended with the computer-animated dinosaurs". Disney said that the over-$100 million visual effects "make the film an 'instant classic'".[6] The concept for the film was originally conceived by Paul Verhoeven and Phil Tippett in 1988 and was pitched as a stop-motion animated film with the title Dinosaurs. The film's original main protagonist was a Styracosaurus and the main antagonist was originally a Tyrannosaurus rex.

The film was originally going to be much darker and violent in tone, and would end with the Cretaceous-Paleogene extinction event, which would ultimately result in the deaths of the film's characters. Paul Verhoeven and Phil Tippett pitched the idea to Disney, only to have the idea for the film shelved away with the onset of the Disney Renaissance until the mid-1990s. The film was originally supposed to have no dialogue at all, in part to differentiate the film from The Land Before Time (1988) with which Dinosaur shares plot similarities. Michael Eisner insisted that the film have dialogue in order to make it more "commercially viable". A similar change was also made early in the production of The Land Before Time, which was originally intended to feature only the voice of a narrator.

The film's score was composed by James Newton Howard. Pop singer/songwriter Kate Bush reportedly wrote and recorded a song for the film to be used in the scene in which Aladar and his family mourn the destruction of their island, but due to complications, the track was ultimately not included on the soundtrack. According to HomeGround, a Kate Bush fanzine, it was scrapped when Disney asked Bush to rewrite the song and Bush refused; however, according to Disney, the song was cut from the film when preview audiences did not respond well to the track.

In Asia, pop singer Jacky Cheung's song Something Only Love Can Do, with versions sung in English, Mandarin Chinese and Cantonese, was adopted as the theme song for the film. The Countdown to Extinction attraction at the Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park was renamed and re-themed to the film. It is now known as DINOSAUR. The storyline was always intended to tie in with the film, considering the usage of a Carnotaurus as the ride's antagonist and Aladar as the Iguanodon that guests rescue from the meteor and take back into the present, seen wandering the Dino Institute in Security Camera footage seen on monitors in the attraction's unloading area.

George Scribner was the original director of the film, he spent two years on it and left to join Walt Disney Imagineering. But fundamentally, the story was pretty much the same after he left. Though Eric Leighton, one of the directors, spoke about his team "want[ing] to learn as much about dinosaurs as possible", he also admitted that they would "cheat like hell" because they were not creating a documentary. A Disney press kit revealed that the film "intentionally veers from scientific fact in certain aspects".

In reality, the film cheated in multiple ways in regard to: how the "dinosaurs are depicted" and how they "are presented in an evolutionary context".[6] The film combines the use of live-action backgrounds with computer animation of prehistoric creatures, notably the titular dinosaurs, produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation's Computer Graphics Unit that was later merged with Dream Quest Images to create Disney's The Secret Lab department.[7] The Secret Lab department closed in 2002. Vision Crew Unlimited provided the live-action special visual effects.


After The Lion King, Disney advertised the film by "releasing the opening scene as a trailer". The EmpireOnline project Your Guide To Disney's 50 Animated Features described this as a "smart move" because "taken by itself, the prelude to Dinosaur is an extraordinary achievement (still impressive now), showing a verdant and vibrant world teeming with darn convincing dinosaurs".[8]


Dinosaur: An Original Walt Disney Records Soundtrack
Film score by James Newton Howard
Released May 5, 2000 (2000-05-05)
Recorded 2000
Genre Film score
Length 49:39
Label Walt Disney
Producer James Newton Howard
Walt Disney Animation Studios chronology
Fantasia 2000
The Emperor's New Groove

The soundtrack album was composed by James Newton Howard with vocals by Lebo M who did vocals from The Lion King. and was released on May 5, 2000 by Walt Disney Records. Howard would later compose the scores for the Disney animated features Atlantis: The Lost Empire and Treasure Planet. The Egg Travels was heard in many trailers inculding Lilo and Stitch, Around the World in 80 Days and The Wild Thornberrys Movie.

  1. Inner Sanctum/The Nesting Grounds (2:57)
  2. The Egg Travels (2:43)
  3. Aladar & Neera (3:29)
  4. The Courtship (4:13)
  5. The End Of Our Island (4:00)
  6. They're All Gone (2:08)
  7. Raptors/Stand Together (5:37)
  8. Across The Desert (2:25)
  9. Finding Water (4:14)
  10. The Cave (3:40)
  11. The Carnotaur Attack (3:52)
  12. Neera Rescues The Orphans (1:13)
  13. Breakout (2:43)
  14. It Comes With A Pool (3:01)
  15. Kron & Aladar Fight (2:58)
  16. Epilogue (2:32)


Critical response

Dinosaur received mixed to positive reviews from critics. The review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported that 65% of critics gave the film positive reviews, based on 122 reviews with an average score of 6.2/10. The consensus on the site reads: "While Dinosaur's plot is generic and dull, its stunning computer animation and detailed backgrounds are enough to make it worth a look."[9]

Roger Ebert gave the film three stars out of four praising the film's "amazing visuals" but criticizing the decision to make the animals talk, which he felt cancelled out the effort to make the film so realistic. "An enormous effort had been spent on making these dinosaurs seem real, and then an even greater effort was spent on undermining the illusion" was his final consensus. The overall rating of Dinosaur on Metacritic from critics is 56%, with 15 critics giving positive reviews, 12 giving mixed reviews, and 5 giving negative reviews.[10]

The lemurs depicted in the movie strongly resemble the sub-species Verreaux's sifaka. Biologists have raised concerns that the movie is misleading and could potentially confuse people, as it suggests lemurs (in their present evolved state) co-existed with dinosaurs over 66 million years ago. All modern strepsirrhines including lemurs are thought to have evolved from 'primitive' primates known as adapiforms during the Eocene (56 to 34 mya) or Paleocene (66 to 56 mya).[11][12][13]

In an analysis of the film, done as part of EmpireOnline's Your Guide To Disney's 50 Animated Features, on the opening sequence it said "much of the scenery is skilfully-composited live-action, including shots of the tepui mountains that would captivate Up's Carl Fredricksen". However, it spoke negatively about the unrealistic talking dinosaurs after the opening, describing it as a "nose-dive". It said they "sound[ed] more like mallrats than terrible lizards" and that "although no-one knows what dinosaurs sound like, they definitely don't sound like that." It also disliked how the meteor hit Earth in Act 1, making the majority of the film set "in gray gravel-pits rather than the lush landscapes we were sold". It said "the animals [are] cute enough, but the script, characters and dino-action are all plodding kiddie fare", but added these faults are made up through "James Newton Howard's majestic score". It cited similarities to the 1988 dinosaur-themed Don Bluth film The Land Before Time, and the more successful prehistoric Blue Sky Studios film Ice Age (which it described as "sassier"), and added that the "images of desperately migrating dinosaurs hark back to the far greater Fantasia". The film was also deemed "inferior" to the work of Pixar Animation Studios.[8]

Box office

Dinosaur opened at #1 making $38,854,851 in its first weekend from 3,257 theaters, for an average of $11,929 per theater beating Mission: Impossible II, Gladiator, and Battlefield Earth.[1] It had a final gross of $137,748,063 in North America which covered its production costs. The film was eventually accepted overseas earning $212,074,702 for a worldwide take of $349,822,765.[1] The official teaser trailer to the film accompanied 102 Dalmatians and the trailer of The Emperor's New Groove.

Home media

Dinosaur was released on VHS & DVD on January 30, 2001. It was also released on 2-Disc Collector's Edition DVD that same day, with lots of special features. It was re-released on VHS in 2002. It released on high definition Blu-ray for an original widescreen presentation on September 19, 2006, becoming the first animated film to be released on the format. It was re-released on Blu-ray on February 8, 2011.

Other media

Disney Interactive released a tie-in video game on the Dreamcast, PlayStation, PC and Game Boy Color in 2000. To promote the release of Dinosaur, the Disney theme park ride "Countdown to Extinction" was renamed "DINOSAUR", and its plot, which had always prominently featured a Carnotaurus and an Iguanodon, was mildly altered so that the Iguanodon is specifically meant to be Aladar, the film's protagonist, and the plot of the ride is now about the riders traveling through time to a point just before the impact of the meteor which caused the extinction of the dinosaurs, to bring Aladar back to the present and save his life.

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Dinosaur (2000)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-12-09.
  2. "Disney's Official Animated Features list". Retrieved 2009-06-17.
  3. Disney DVDs & Blu-ray - DVD Collections
  4. Disney Theatrical Animated Features
  5. Parks, Zack (28 September 2012). "Top 10 Actors Who Almost Voiced Disney Animated Characters". Retrieved 25 July 2015.
  6. 1 2 "Movie Review: Disney's Dinosaur—Deadly Drama and Dabs of Darwinism!". May 20, 2000. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  7. "Disney Forms The Secret Lab". 1999-10-29.
  8. 1 2 "Your Guide To Disney's 50 Animated Features: Dinosaur (2000)". EmpireOnline. 2011. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  9. "Dinosaur (2000)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2011-12-09.
  10. Metacritic
  11. Kay, R. F.; Ross, C.; Williams, B. A. (1997). "Anthropoid Origins". Science. 275 (5301): 797–804. doi:10.1126/science.275.5301.797. PMID 9012340.
  12. Gould, L.; Sauther, M.L., eds. (2006). Lemurs: Ecology and Adaptation. Springer. pp. vii–xiii. ISBN 978-0-387-34585-7.
  13. Sussman, R.W. (2003). Primate Ecology and Social Structure. Pearson Custom Publishing. pp. 149–229. ISBN 978-0-536-74363-3.

External links

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