The Success of Michael Crichton\'s Novels in the Media Industry

One only has to look at the astonishing opening weekend of Paramount
Pictures\' action adventure thriller Congo which was universally panned by
critics, to be reminded of the power of the person who created the underlying
material: Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton. The film\'s whopping $24.6
million opening, which shocked insiders, underscored the value to Hollywood of
an exclusive club of best-selling writers (Eller 3).
Michael Chrichton\'s novels all have their similarities. He seems to
follow a pattern which is working very well for him. He picks a hot-button
subject and uses it to lend his novels a glossy veneer of topicality. He casts
his novels with some really detestable villains so attentive readers will
automatically know who to root for. He ends each chapter on a scary, cliff-
hanging note to make sure that readers will keep reading, regardless of the
characters vapidity. He includes many frantic chase scenes or race-against-the-
clock scenes that will translate graphically onto the screen. He puts plenty of
technical, pseudo-specialist talk into his characters\' mouths to give readers
the illusion that they\'re learning something as they quickly flip the pages
(Kakutui 3).
Michael Crichton has definitely made a boom in the entertainment
industry. Whether it is his top grossing movies or his top rated television
shows like E.R. which took a leading twenty prime-time Emmy nominations last
year including best drama (Carter 23).
Crichton\'s latest movie Congo, which had a great opening weekend, was
one of his successes. This movie was based on a book that Crichton wrote in the
early 80\'s, long before he became the entertainment powerhouse that he is now.
Chrichton\'s novels seem to be written for big screen translations (Brom 14).
Publishers say that they can\'t recall a time since Jaws and The Exorcist, two
decades ago, when movies gave such a boost to the books that inspired them
(Romney 5). Michael Chrichton indefinitely tops this long list of authors.
Crichton\'s novels cover many subjects such as genetic engineering in
Jurassic Park, sexual harassment in Disclosure, or Japan\'s threat to America in
Rising Sun (Denby 12). I think that it is this wide variety of subject matter
that keeps his readers coming back for more.
Crichton\'s biggest success by far was the novel Jurassic Park. This
book made a sales record in both the novel and on the screen (Turan 11). It
ended up grossing over $913 million total in ticket sales and holds the
privilege of being the top selling live action movie ever on home video (Wall
Street Journal B5). It was such a success that its director, Steven Spielberg,
has agreed to direct its sequel which will be called The Lost World, and will be
based on Crichton\'s latest novel which is also called The Lost World. This film
is expected to be released in the summer of 1997 and is expected to gross just
as much as Jurassic Park did back in 1993 (Avens 4B).
Jurassic Park was seen by millions just for its special effects alone,
and the combination of puppetwork and animation certainly went beyond that of
the previous high water marks of Willis O\'Brien\'s King Kong or Ray Harryhausen\'s
The Valley of Gwangi (Newman 44). As a matter of fact, it set a new standard of
how movies should be made.
Another big boost of income from the movie was the tremendous amount of
merchandising that went along with the film. Jurassic Park T-shirts came out
before the movie itself did. It was dino-mania at many department stores once
this giant snowball of a movie started rolling. Merchandising for the movie
Jurassic Park almost topped the record set by the movie Batman (Medved 27). As
a matter of fact many companies used it to boost sales of their own merchandise.
MCA/Universal decided to make a Jurassic Park game for their 3DO game system and
it sent the system\'s sales up 30% (Harmon D4).
Michael Crichton has definitely made a name for himself since Jurassic
Park was released. He went from a no-name author to superstar practically
overnight, much like many other "Hollywood authors" such as John Grisham and
Steven King. It seems that his popularity at the moment is unsurpassed by
anyone with his major motion pictures and his hit television drama E.R. Michael
Crichton is definitely worth millions because it seems that everything he
touches turns to gold.

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