The blockbuster summer movie “Jurassic World” has dinosaurs, Chris Pratt — and Madison.
Sharp-eyed viewers have noticed that an early scene set in a wintry neighborhood is supposed to be Madison, or at least somewhere in Dane County.
In the scene, brothers Zach and Gray (Nick Robinson and Ty Simpkins) are excited to be traveling to visit their Aunt Claire (Bryce Dallas Howard), an executive at “Jurassic World” theme park. Their mother makes reference to the fact that they are flying out of “Dane County Airport.”
(She says the airport is 35 minutes away, suggesting the family lives on the southwest side or in a neighboring community like Sun Prairie.)
Or, more likely, the filmmakers didn't bother to check airport travel times in Madison. In fact, the airport the audience sees briefly in the film is much bigger than Madison’s own, with at least three terminals. Dane County Airport spokesperson Brent McHenry said the film crew did not come to Wisconsin and did not notify the airport that it would be mentioned in the film.
“We’re very excited about it,” McHenry said. “It’s great exposure for south central Wisconsin and Dane County.”
Later in the film, as things start going haywire at Jurassic World, Claire gets a call from her sister, and the screen says "Madison."
The scenes of Zach and Gray’s house were also not shot anywhere near Wisconsin — this behind-the-scenes set report shows that the filmmakers dressed up a house in New Orleans with fake snow to simulate Wisconsin weather.
Madison-based television and film writer Myles McNutt, who writes for the A.V. Club and other publications, said on his blog that he was surprised that the local audience didn’t respond more strongly to the Madison references.
“I really expected my crowd in Madison to react more directly to the fact the film starts here, but then I realized I had been tipped off to the Dane County Airport reference, and it’s subtle enough that many likely missed it,” he wrote. “It was a stark contrast to seeing the Green Bay Packers sequence in 'Pitch Perfect 2' play out in a Wisconsin multiplex.”
It’s unclear why Madison was chosen as the home base of the two brothers, who find themselves menaced by dinosaurs in Jurassic World throughout the film. Director and co-writer Colin Trevorrow was born and raised in Northern California, and none of the three other screenwriters seem to have a Madison connection.
Perhaps the reference is an homage to the original “Jurassic Park” screenwriter, David Koepp, a Pewaukee native who attended UW-Madison and was back at his alma mater last spring.