What a great time to be a movie lover.  The long-awaited releases of some sure-fire hit movies will be happening within the next few weeks.  ‘Top Gun Maverick’ on May 27.  ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ on June 10.

It's a big reminder of when the first ‘Jurassic Park’ movie was released in June 1993.  The Erie Zoo was sponsoring a fund raiser at the ice rink it owns next door.  It was an impressive exhibit featuring inflatable, mechanized dinosaurs.  The exhibit was called ‘Jurassic Jungle.’  The dinosaur show had been open for three months when zoo officials received a letter from Universal Pictures.  The studio had just released ‘Jurassic Park.’ Scott Mitchell handled Media and Communications for the zoo at that time.  He now is the Development Director.

"That was quite the day.” he recalled. “It was a really interesting kind of thing.  It's not every day you get a letter like that from Hollywood producers and so forth.  We weren't really sure how to react at the beginning and how to take it."

The studio told the zoo to quit using the word 'Jurassic' for the dinosaur fundraiser or face a lawsuit. Apparently the producers thought that word was only theirs.

"Gosh, this is a word, a scientific term that's used in classrooms every single day.  Why would they think that they owned it?" says Mitchell.

The exhibit was a big deal for the zoo and its effort to raise funds for a new roof at the ice rink.  Study guides for teachers were printed with the name ‘Jurassic Jungle.’ Tee-shirts were made with a ‘Jurassic Jungle’ logo.  The zoo was all-in on the name ‘Jurassic Jungle’ and Hollywood wanted to take it away. 

"We were stunned, quite honestly, that they would notice that the little tiny Erie Zoo, in Erie PA, would have used the word 'Jurassic’.  But, that's what happened,” says Mitchell.

The news media could not resist the David vs. Goliath story.  The Wall Street Journal did a front page article.  An Associated Press write-up appeared in newspapers all over the country. The zoo’s board of directors were tempted to take on Universal Pictures but common sense dictated they should not. They instead decided to change the name of the exhibit to "Dinosaur Jungle."

"But, as you take a step back, we really didn't want to get into position of using what limited resources we had to try to fight something like this," recalled Mitchell. 

Almost 30 years have passed.  ‘Jurassic Park’ went on to be the highest grossing movie of all time until ‘Titanic’ came along.

“I don't think we even made enough money to put a new roof on the ice rink, quite honestly," says Mitchell with a laugh.