THE MANY DEATHS OF JOHN HAMMOND
Fans of Jurassic Park universally fell in love with Richard Attenborough's portrayal of John Hammond from the films. Steven Spielberg, clearly evident of his casting choice and how he would have lovingly played such a Disney-like character, eventually led to him being a much more sympathetic compared to the novel's more sinister take. Fans of the novel will know that John Hammond dies while falling down a hill, then killed by Compies as their poisonous venom paralyzes him. However, in nearly every screenplay tackled by another writer, his death is altered.
In Michael Crichton’s first draft of the screenplay, Hammond is in the Visitor Center when he is startled by the twitching corpse of a Raptor. Stumbling, Hammond falls into the crashed scaffolding and skeleton display debris and becomes trapped within. Shortly after, a pack of Compies enter the Visitor Center from the top of an escalator, descending down to devour him, alive. His hand grasps in the air as he is pained and anguished.
This death was then changed by Crichton’s final draft, which featured Hammond being killed by Raptors while the “Welcome Video” of him is being played from behind, stuttering in an eerie effect as he is being attacked. He sacrificed his life in order to distract the Raptors so Tim and Lex could escape them safely. The redeemable quality of Hammond is starting to form here.
In Rick Carter's draft, Hammond is in Jurassic Park’s control room during the climax when the Raptors have broken out of their pen and have entered the Visitor Center. John Hammond, with an incubator of eggs he plans to take with him upon leaving the park to “save it”, hears Lex screaming downstairs. He opens the door to the control room to help, but is greeted by a Raptor. Hammond falls backward, crashing on a tabletop model of Jurassic Park that is on display in the control room (which was to be very similar to the one we see in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom), as the Raptor digs its claws deep into his chest. The incubator shatters to the floor, breaking one of the eggs while another remains unharmed.
Later on, Grant finds Hammond in the control room, barely alive, as he tells Grant that he always knew the “first batch of DNA was too unstable” and that he was looking forward to working with him at the park. He then dies as the two men are framed by the destroyed model of Jurassic Park. Then, the one unharmed egg from before cracks open, revealing an infant Triceratops.
The other versions of his death involve Hammond simply being left behind on the island, either by his choice or by accident. Some art and storyboards of this idea were done by Art Director John Bell, with a version of this scripted in Malia Scotch Marmo’s screenplay.
However, once David Koepp entered into the picture, it was decided Hammond no longer needed to die. Whether it was because Richard Attenborough was cast or the filmmakers decided it didn’t fit their ever-evolving take on the character remains to be seen. It seems to be a good choice for the version of the character they ended up crafting, but it will always be interesting to see these different deaths being toyed around with.
Written by Derrick Davis. This article was originally published on Jurassic Outpost by the author. It has been modified and updated with additional content to be more concise and relevant.