Forget the fact that the shady auction in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom” is conducted by a bunch of nefarious dino dealers. The biggest crime in the movie is this: the sale’s bargain basement prices.
“Jurassic World 2” is filled with crazy circumstances (e.g. the dinosaur island is exploding), but the acme of absurdity is the clandestine auction, where the highest bidder can get a prehistoric pet/blood-thirsty murder weapon at a cost so low it must be a mistake.
Before the auction, actor Rafe Spall’s baddie character Eli Mills estimates that the dinosaurs could go for $4 million per species. Then he’s immediately delighted when they start getting around $10 million in bids.
And we’re like, “Seriously?”
Even a genetically modified Indoraptor — that seems like it’s been suped-up, “Pimp My Ride”-style, with impressively ripped forearms, the ability to attack with laser-guided precision and probably even free Wifi — reaches only around $28 million on screen.
Mills is ecstatic. I mean, who cares if the dinosaurs get out and eat people? Because those prices are to die for.
Except I’m not buying it. Neither is Twitter.
Even if people in the “Jurassic World” universe are supposedly not that impressed by dinosaurs anymore (and there’s a small possibility other dinos exist on Site B, since we’ve yet to visit the other island in these sequels), there’s no way they’d only go for seven and eight figures. The cost of the auction facility alone seems like it would dwarf those prices, what with its fancy cage and conveyor belt setup that’s clearly custom made for secret dinosaur sales.
To get to the bottom of these rock bottom prices, we turned to the experts. Unfortunately, they were harder to find than a mosquito stuck in amber.
Some auction houses told me they could only comment on their own sales. One of the various museums we reached out to claimed they didn’t have “any paleontologists available at the moment.”
But life finds a way.
We came across an expert in Bendigo Communications director Julian Roup, who has 30 years of experience in the auction industry, most recently as International Head of Press and Marketing for Bonhams.
Roup confirmed that the “Jurassic World 2” prices are laughably low.
“These figures sound incredibly modest to me,” he wrote via email, adding that real live dinosaurs would be “virtually priceless.”
“If a Leonardo da Vinci painting commands $450 million, one would think that a living dinosaur would be at least as much as a status pet project. A Ferrari GTO has just sold for a reported $52 million. Privately, not at auction.”
Still, another expert, Barnebys co-founder Pontus Silfverstolpe, noted that sale prices can be surprising.
“When a Rolex watch that is less than 50 years can cost millions of dollars and a Ferrari car can cost more than 50 million dollars, a skeleton from a prehistoric animal that lived more than 60 million years ago should cost billions,” he said, “but they do not actually.”
Even taking into account Silfverstolpe’s point, a dino skeleton that closely resembles an allosaurus was recently sold at auction house Aguttes for more than $2 million. Again, that’s just a skeleton. Wouldn’t, you know, being alive increase that price exponentially? (Aguttes did not respond to my request for comment.)
The meager amount of money still seems like a plot hole or outright mistake to me, but the stars of “Jurassic World 2” explained that the jarringly low figures might be the point. Much like Roup noted, actors Jeff Goldblum and Bryce Dallas Howard said the dinos are actually priceless. Only in a dystopia would we try to affix them monetary value.
Dr. Ian Malcolm, aka Goldblum, admitted to HuffPost he’s no dino auction expert but he “deplores, uh, you know, the kind of usage that they intended for those dinosaurs.”
“It’s like, no, I only have disdain for any of that kind of thing,” he said. “No, dinosaurs should not be our property, nor animals. We shouldn’t buy or sell them. They should be roaming free and enjoying the planet just like we should be, this miraculous planet.”
“There’s so much wealth in the world and who knows what is the value of something priceless,” she said, adding, “I think for me the answer... is that these animals are priceless and not to be bought or sold, and there’s no dollar amount that is actually equal to the real value of these animals.”
OK, so maybe the bottom line is that no price would match a dinosaur’s worth. But $4 million still sounds... stupidly low. To put that in perspective, here’s a quick dollar-to-dinosaur conversion chart to show how many dinos famous big spenders could have purchased:
With the nearly $50 million Taylor Swift spent on her New York apartments, she could’ve bought 12.5 dinosaurs.
The money LeBron James could get in his potential $200 million contract sounds even nicer when you consider he could buy 50 dinosaurs.
Lastly, the box office take for “Jurassic World 2” is heading towards $1 billion. That’s 250 dinosaurs.
Moral of the story: It’d be despicable to actually buy dinosaurs, but at these discounts, it’s almost more offensive not to.