50 Years Ago, This Sci-Fi Movie Changed The Genre


  • Westworld was a huge financial hit upon release, earning $10 million on a budget of only $1 million.
  • The movie broke the sci-fi movie mold by focusing on the perspectives of the park’s visitors, scientists, and robots.
  • Westworld’s use of digital image processing and prioritizing the androids’ point of view influenced later sci-fi movies like Blade Runner and Jurassic Park.

Not only was Westworld a huge hit upon release, but the sci-fi classic eventually led to Jurassic Park’s franchise-spawning success. The Michael Crichton adaptation Westworld was released in 1973. Directed by the aforementioned author, Westworld was the story of an interactive theme park populated by unnervingly lifelike robots. Westworld was a huge financial hit upon release, earning $10 million on a budget of only $1 million. However, the extent of the movie’s influence on sci-fi cinema would not become clear until decades later, when Crichton’s other “Theme park gone wrong” novel spawned an even more successful movie adaptation.

Years before Jurassic Park’s ending explained why cloning dinosaurs was a bad idea, Westworld introduced viewers to Yul Brynner’s android cowboy (better known as the Gunslinger) and made robots feel more human than any earlier movie had managed. James Brolin played one of the human guests of Westworld but, in an innovative move, the movie was not told entirely from the point of view of the bewildered patrons as they found themselves besieged by killer robots. Instead, Westworld broke the sci-fi movie mold.

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How Westworld Changed Sci-Fi Movies

A robot with its face to the side of its head, which contains wiring, in Westworld

Westworld’s biggest innovation was the movie’s use of digital image processing and pixelated photography to emulate the android’s POV. Not only did the digital image processing effects look groundbreaking in 1973, but the idea of prioritizing the perspective of the androids granted the robots a level of humanity that they rarely received in earlier major sci-fi movies. Without Westworld’s robot POV shots, viewers would likely never have seen Blade Runner’s ambiguous story.

Westworld allowed viewers to empathize with the androids even as they went haywire, depicting them not just as machines or humans but as something in between the two. This approach became much more central in the show’s 2016 TV adaptation, which questioned the ethics of androids, tourism itself, and labor exploitation. However, Westworld’s later TV adaptation couldn’t have happened if the original movie hadn’t opened the door for this type of introspective sci-fi cinema. The early ‘70s was full of thoughtful sci-fi outings from Silent Running to Soylent Green, but it was Westworld that humanized the android via Brynner’s performance and innovative special effects.

How Westworld Led To Jurassic Park

Sick Triceratops in Jurassic Park

After Critchton made Westworld, the author went on to write the novel Jurassic Park. That later bestseller explored some similar concepts to Westworld, but it was arguably an even more explicit indictment of the colonial attitude behind these fictional locations. Both Westworld and Jurassic Park were tales of scientific innovation and hubris combining to create disaster, but the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park were portrayed even more sympathetically than the androids of Westworld. Where Westworld’s villains could be dubbed evil robots, Jurassic Park’s dinosaurs were simply existing and the story’s real villains were the people who spent billions to bring them back to life in the hopes of making money.

  • Jurassic Park

    Release Date:

    Steven Spielberg

    Richard Attenborough, Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeff Goldblum


    127 minutes

    Main Genre:

    Adventure, Sci-Fi, Action

    David Koepp, Michael Crichton

    Huge advancements in scientific technology have enabled a mogul to create an island full of living dinosaurs. John Hammond has invited four individuals, along with his two grandchildren, to join him at Jurassic Park. But will everything go according to plan? A park employee attempts to steal dinosaur embryos, critical security systems are shut down and it now becomes a race for survival with dinosaurs roaming freely over the island.

    Jurassic Park

    Jurassic World, Jurassic Park 3, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom

    Dean Cundey

    Kathleen Kennedy, Gerald R. Molen

    Production Company:
    Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment

    Sfx Supervisor:
    Dennis Muren

    $63 million

    Distributor :
    Universal Pictures

    Assistant Director :
    John T. Kretchmer

#Years #SciFi #Movie #Changed #Genre

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