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Officials see ‘Jurassic’ windfall

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    Nick Robinson, left, and Ty Simpkins star in “Jurassic World,” the latest installment in the “Jurassic Park” franchise, which opened Friday. The summer blockbuster was shot last year on Oahu and Kauai.
    Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau, said she expects the release of “Jurassic World”?will generate new opportunities to promote Hawaii. Parts of “Jurassic World” were filmed at Kauai Ranch.

The opening of "Jurassic World" has brought the dinosaurs back to Hawaii, and tourism officials couldn’t be happier.

The expected summer blockbuster was shot on Oahu and Kauai in April and May 2014 and opened Friday. There was some controversy surrounding the recent release of Cameron Crowe’s new film, "Aloha," which some critics said whitewashed the islands and trampled over local culture. However, local tourism officials say the return of dinosaurs to Hawaii is a boon to be embraced. That’s because the economic benefits are threefold and the exposure is worth millions, said Sue Kanoho, executive director of the Kauai Visitors Bureau.

"First, we get the economic benefit of the actual shoot in the moment, which includes spending on hotel rooms, food and beverage, car rentals and vehicles and equipment," Kanoho said. "Local jobs also are created."

Filming also helps cultivate relationships with crew members, who might recommend Kauai for another film or TV project, Kanoho said.

"We also have seen crew return to Kauai for a vacation, wedding, marriage proposal or some other significant event in their lives," she said.


“Mahalo Nui Loa, Steven Spielberg,” the Kauai Visitors Bureau’s video tribute to the legendary director, can be viewed at

Case in point: "Jurassic World" star Chris Pratt, who plays Owen Brady, a Velociraptor expert and trainer, recorded a special message for the Kauai sneak peek of the film, which attracted about 300 people Wednesday.

"I just want to say thank you from the bottom of my heart," Pratt said in his prerecorded message. "A big mahalo to all the people in Hawaii who helped bring this to the screen. We had such a pleasure filming in your beautiful state, and Hawaii is always, always going to be a second home to me. I love you very much, and I’m very proud of the movie. I hope that you are, too."

Kanoho said the film is already garnering positive reviews on Kauai, which also played a pivotal role in the previous three movies in the "Jurassic Park" film series, which rolled out its first installment in 1993. Earning $900 million, the first "Jurassic Park" was the highest-grossing film ever until "Titanic" surpassed it in 1997.

Iconic Hawaii locations served as the setting for many of the scenes in the first film and in its sequels, "The Lost World: Jurassic Park" and "Jurassic Park II." Kanoho said she expects the release of "Jurassic World" will generate new opportunities to promote Hawaii in trade magazines, sweepstakes offerings and through special promotions and screening.

"We are partnering with the Oahu Visitors Bureau and KISS radio to offer a "Jurassic World" sweepstakes to Hawaii for travelers in the United Kingdom," she said.

Even after the initial buzz about the movie dissipates, continued showings will help maintain awareness of Hawaii, she said. That’s why the Kauai Visitors Bureau is coming out with its own video release called "Mahalo Nui Loa, Steven Spielberg" to thank the director for featuring the Garden Island in all four dinosaur films.

"The fact that he included Kauai in all four films is an honor and a big deal," Kanoho said. "Franchises don’t always come back to the same location. This movie actually picks up where the last ‘Jurassic Park’ left off and includes iconic images of the Napali Coast in the opening and closing and of the Valley House on Kauai Ranch."

While the Allerton Garden, which is part of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens South Shore Gardens, was not featured in "Jurassic World," it’s still reaping the benefits of its pivotal role in the original "Jurassic Park." Andy Jasper, director of National Tropical Botanical Gardens South Shore Gardens, said visitors still come to the Allerton Garden just to see the Moreton Bay fig trees, which were where the stars of the first film discovered dinosaur eggs in the mammoth root system.

"The Allerton Garden was where it all began," Jasper said. "As a result, we’ve been involved in the ‘Jurassic Park’ family of films for years now, and we’re already seeing the benefits from this latest one."

On June 5, Jasper said, 800 people showed up at the Allerton Garden for a film night featuring the original movie.

"We wanted to use the new release to drum up more excitement," Jasper said. "We were tremendously successful. As many as 55 percent of the people who visited the garden that night had never been here before. We also raised $4,300 in donations that night."

Jasper said such windfalls inspired the National Tropical Botanical Gardens South Shore Gardens staff to assist the Kauai Visitors Bureau with their thank-you production.

"It was such fun," he said, "and we expect that this video will generate even more benefits."

Kanoho said the Kauai Visitor Bureau video on YouTube features Kauai people holding banners at "Jurassic World" film locations. In the final scene, Kanoho said, branches break, and a roar can be heard in the distance. Everyone runs, but one man is dragged off camera and Kanoho said a voice-over says, "I think you left something behind, Steven. We are waiting for your return."

She said the YouTube effort is meant to connect moviegoers to Kauai locations and let Spielberg know that Kauai wants to continue its working relationship with him.

"People enjoy the big screen, so being in the movie is incredibly important to Kauai," she said. "The film industry is also very competitive, so we want to make sure that decision makers know that we welcome their business."

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