Judaism often cites the sharing of common goals as being key to a happy marriage and, consequently, success in life. If so, Jurassic World screenwriters Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa may indeed be true basherts (Yiddish for ‘soul mates’).
The screenwriting husband and wife team has garnered industry credit in recent years with scripts for box-office winners Rise of the Planet of the Apes and sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, but Jurassic World is by far the most serendipitous venture yet.
The film, the fourth in the Jurassic Park series, had a Tyrannosaurus-rex-sized opening that proved even bigger than expected, bringing in $208.8 million last weekend in its first weekend in theaters, Universal Pictures. That’s the highest-grossing opening weekend of all time. “Marvel’s The Avengers” had previously held the domestic opening weekend record. That film opened to $207.4 million in 2012.
Jurassic World was co-written by Jaffa and Silver a well as Derek Connolly and director Colin Trevorrow.
“This over-performed in a way that I’ve never seen,” Rentrak’s Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian said. “It broke the box office sound barrier.”
Their success has not been without controversy. Jaffa and Silver have been engaged in a legal battle with Connolly and Trevorrow over the film’s writing credits. The Writer’s Guild of America ruled that the husband-and-wife team was to receive screenplay credit for the film — for writing an earlier draft of the script — along with Connolly and Trevorrow, a decision the latter appealed and which was rejected. The WGA arbitration panel, for good measure, also added another credit line for Silver and Jaffa in their ruling. Connolly and Trevorrow plan to appeal again.
Jaffa and Silver have been married for 25 years, and have been writing together throughout that period.
Silver was born to Jewish parents in New York. Jaffa was raised Christian but had a Jewish great-grandfather. The two told the Los Angeles Jewish Journal in 2014 that they regularly attend Los Angeles’s IKAR congregation with their two children.
Their previous work on the Apes franchise — relating the tale of two societies thrown into a tragic struggle due to their inability to overcome their prejudices and mutual hatred — has been interpreted by some as an allegory for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The pair have denied such intentions, though Silver acknowledged the films are “an exploration of conflict between neighbors who see each other as enemies instead of brothers.”
The duo is now aiding director James Cameron in crafting the sequels to the wildly successful Avatar, the first of which is set to premiere in 2017.
Jaffa noted to the Jewish Journal that all three projects share a message — they deliver a stern warning on the consequences of humans interfering with nature.
“They’re about man’s hubris, and about how playing God will inevitably bite you in the ass,” he said.