The origin of the classic Jurassic Park line “Hold on to your butts’” is actually pretty funny. The arrival of Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of Michael Crichton’s hit novel was the biggest box office hit of 1993, and a watershed moment for filmmaking in general.
In terms of on-screen highlights, Jurassic Park seemed to have it all. From story to acting to score to effects, everything about the film clicked with audiences as well as critics. By the end of 1993, Spielberg’s dinosaur blockbuster had become the highest-grossing motion picture of all time, and people everywhere still couldn’t stop talking about it. Of course, thanks to the film’s success, a sequel was put into motion, and by 1997, The Lost World: Jurassic Park had arrived. Unfortunately, although the film did well financially, it didn’t quite hit the mark with critics or fans. After the dizzying highs of Jurassic Park, The Lost World simply couldn’t compete. In later years, of course, other films arrived in the franchise with varying success. Today a new generation of fans awaits the upcoming Jurassic World: Dominion, but fans of the original still love to revisit it and explore the trivia surrounding Jurassic Park’s groundbreaking achievements.
To date, there is plenty of information online and in books that can break down Jurassic Park’s visual effects as well as its other technical aspects. But to find out the truly obscure, sometimes you have to go straight to the source. Thanks to Collider, we now have some interesting and funny information about where Samuel L. Jackson’s often quoted “Hold on to your butts” line comes from. During a recent interview, Jurassic Park screenwriter David Koepp explained his favorite line’s origin and how it didn’t initially appear in the script. In fact, it was none other than Back to the Future director Robert Zemeckis who inadvertently came up with the quip. In his explanation, Koepp revealed:
“One is a very simple line, it’s only four words, but I like the way it came to be in the movie in that people liked it. I was finishing Death Becomes Her when I was writing Jurassic Park, and we had an ending that was really disastrous at first from one of these horrible test screenings where they almost kill you. So we’d very quickly gone out to shoot a new ending for the movie, but there was little time before the movie came out, so we were in the dailies of the reshoots, and there was gonna be no opportunity to redo the reshoots. So this was it, this really had to work. And we sat down in the dailies, and as the lights were going down, Bob Zemeckis said, ‘Hold onto your butts.’ I happened to be working on the script at that time, and I was like, ‘Oh, I love that.’ I went back and I typed it into the script immediately, and then Sam Jackson said it. I don’t think I ever told Zemeckis that, but that’s his line.”
Fans will recall the line as the last thing that chain-smoking programmer Arnold (Jackson) said as he officially shut down Jurassic Park’s power. It is a tense moment in a film filled with tense moments, but Jackson’s deadpan delivery managed to elevate the line to iconic status. Sometimes the best things about films are the little extras that weren’t specifically planned, and in this case, that appears to be very much the case. Oddly enough, despite five films in the Jurassic Park franchise and over twenty-five years since Jackson’s line was uttered, many believe the quote hasn’t been matched by anything else that’s been said in the sequels.
One of the best things about classic films is that there always seems to be something new to learn. In the case of Jurassic Park, so much took place in order to get the blockbuster off the ground that a lifetime’s worth of history and trivia undoubtedly comes with it. The origin of the “Hold on to your butts” line just happens to be one small (but instantly recognizable) previously unknown aspect of a film that is still remembered today.
Next: Why Lost World Wasn’t As Good As Jurassic Park: What Went Wrong