With less than two years until its release date, there is still plenty of prep work to be done on Jurassic World 2. So, what do we really know about the sequel at this early date? Quite a bit, actually. We know when it will hit theaters. Who is starring. And who is directing. We even have a vague outline of the plot. But let's look deeper, shall we?

Jurassic Park, more than 20 years after the fact, remains one of the best movies that Steven Spielberg ever directed and without question the greatest movie to ever feature dinosaurs in it. While The Lost World may have had its moments, Jurassic Park III was a profound disappointment, and for years we waited for a proper sequel. Last year, for many fans, they finally got what they had been waiting for in the form of Jurassic World.

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Jurassic World was well liked by critics, as it currently sits at a 71 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But, perhaps, more importantly, the movie made a staggering $1.67 billion at the worldwide box office, making it one of the highest-grossing movies of all-time. That being the case, Jurassic World 2 is definitely happening. Legendary and Universal Pictures were quick to give the project the go ahead, but luckily, they didn't want to rush things. The movie is set to come out in 2018, which means they have plenty of time to (hopefully) get it right.

Jurassic World broke The Avengers opening weekend record at the box office with a whopping $208.8 million, although that was later shattered by Star Wars: The Force Awakens. While the producers are surely hoping that Jurassic World 2 can top the $652.2 million domestic and $1.5 billion worldwide haul of Jurassic World when the sequel hits theaters, they know they will have to deliver a really good movie to make that happen. At the very least, it looks like Jurassic World 2 will be very different.

Director Colin Trevorrow will not be back to direct the sequel to Jurassic World, but his DNA will still be all over the movie, so to speak. We also can guess that, given the events of Jurassic World, we aren't going to be re-visiting a functioning dinosaur amusement park again anytime soon. So what will we be seeing? Well, we don't know anything overly specific, but believe it or not, we actually know quite a bit about the upcoming Jurassic World sequel.

Many Jurassic Park fans are riding high after getting to see John Hammond's dream of a dinosaur Disneyland fully realized. However, things are going to need to change to keep the franchise fresh, but some familiar elements will be in place to help make the sequel work. So hold onto your butts, because here is what we know about Jurassic World 2.

Jurassic World 2 is Coming Summer 2018, But the U.K. Gets It First

Jurassic World 2 Release Date

Way back in July of 2015, Universal Pictures announced that Jurassic World 2 would hit American theaters on June 22, 2018. It was then announced that the U.K. would be getting the movie a full two weeks early, with the dinosaur adventure set to hit Europe and other parts of the world on June 7. It's not quite clear why other parts of the world will be getting the movie so far in advanced, and this never bodes well for the studio in terms of pirating. But we're sure the studio has its reasons. At that time, it was revealed that Steven Spielberg would return as an executive producer, with Frank Marshall set to produce. Spielberg directed the first two movies in the franchise, and is helping create and craft the on-going story as it continues into the future.

Chris Pratt Will Return as Owen Grady

Chris Pratt as Owen Grady

Though the general consensus seemed to be that Jurassic World was very much a good sequel to Jurassic Park, not everyone loved it. No matter what you felt about the movie, pretty much one thing that we can all agree in is that we love Chris Pratt. Without knowing just how successful it was going to be, Pratt went straight from filming Guardians of the Galaxy to filming Jurassic World. So, in back-to-back years, he was in two of the biggest hit movies and is now one of the biggest stars on the planet.

The good news is that he will be back for Jurassic World 2 as Owen Grady. One of the core problems with previous Jurassic Park sequels was that they were a lot of the same. Jurassic World tried to do some very different things, and one of those things involved Owen actually being able to train raptors, which made for some of the best sequences in the movie. Given the events of the first movie, it is unlikely we will be seeing Owen still training Raptors in Jurassic World 2, but we do know that he will be back and that he will again be one of the lead characters in the movie. Maybe we'll get to see him train a T-Rex this time around? Okay, probably not, but he's coming back.

Bryce Dallas Howard will Ditch Her High Heels

Bryce Dallas Howard

Prior to Jurassic World, it had been quite some time since Bryce Dallas Howard had been in a movie. She played a very necessary part as Claire, the lady in charge of the amusement park, in the movie, but there were definitely some issues with her character in the eyes of many. Not the least of which was her outrunning a T-Rex in high heels. Well, Claire is going to have a chance for redemption, because Bryce Dallas Howard is coming back for Jurassic World 2. She and the creative team behind the movie have learned some lessons, though. Speaking with Collider, Howard said "Original director Colin Trevorrow told me, when the sequel was happening, when it got green lit and that I was going to be in it, he texted me, '#NoHeels2018′. And I was like 'Yeah boy!'" So that is definitely a plus.

Jurassic World Director Colin Trevorrow is Still Involved

Colin Trevorrow

Prior to Jurassic World, Colin Trevorrow had only directed one other feature film, the 2012 indie sci-fi movie Safety Not Guaranteed. He was then hand-picked by Steven Spielberg to direct the long-awaited follow-up to Jurassic Park III, and by most accounts, he did a great job. Trevorrow will not be back to direct Jurassic World 2, but he is still heavily involved. He wrote the script along with Derek Connolly, who he has worked with before. He is also still staying on to produce the movie and will have a say in what is going on. Granted, he will be a little bit busy working on Star Wars Episode IX, which is a big part of the reason he isn't coming back to direct. Universal very likely would have happily had him back to direct the sequel if had wanted to, but it is understandable that he wouldn't' want to pass up the opportunity to direct a Star Wars movie. Who could blame him? So, if you liked what he did with Jurassic World, even though he won't be directing, he will still very much be a part of what could make Jurassic World 2 great as well.

J. A. Bayona is Taking Over as Director

J. A. Bayona

Since Colin Trevorrow isn't able to return, Universal and Legendary needed to find a new man or woman who could handle directing duties for Jurassic World 2. They found one, and his name is Juan Antonia Bayona, better known as J. A. Bayona. While he may not have the name recognition that is often associated with massive blockbuster movies, he definitely has the chops for it. His previous movies include the horror movie The Orphanage, the true story disaster movie The Impossible, and the upcoming fantasy drama A Monster Calls. If you add that all together, you get all of the sensibilities necessary to take on an entry in the Jurassic Park franchise. He can handle scary, he can handle big action, and he can handle fantasy. J.A. Bayona has been making quality movies for a long time now, so it is about time he gets a shot at making a massive movie like Jurassic World 2 and his experience should be very encouraging. In an interview with The Playlist, Trevorrow praised Bayona, saying "JA Bayona is an incredible director and I know he'll push the boundaries of what a 'Jurassic' movie is. I think it's important that we take risks. A franchise must evolve or perish."

The Story will Further Explore Weaponized Dinosaurs

Weaponized Dinosaurs

On the subject of the franchise evolving, that is something that we can definitely expect from Jurassic World 2. While we don't know any very specific plot details yet, there are a few things we can figure out, and few things that have been said. Shortly after the release of Jurassic WorldColin Trevorrow talked with Wired, saying that "It will not be just a bunch of dinosaurs chasing people on an island. That'll get old real fast." He also added that the sequel isn't "going to be limited to theme parks." That is something that we have yet to see from the previous entries in the franchise, save for the bit with the T-Rex in San Diego at the end of The Lost World. There were also heavy indicators that the idea of weaponizing the dinosaurs for military applications will be explored, as Vincent D'Onofrio's character Hoskins was pushing quite hard for that in Jurassic World, and B.D. Wong's character Henry Wu made it off the island with InGen, carrying research and embryos with him. Hopefully, they can avoid making the weaponized dinosaur thing wacky and ridiculous, but it seems like after Jurassic World, the creative team isn't interested in going that route with it. Trevorrow gave one last big hint in that interview, saying "This isn't something necessarily that was in the book but is a seed that I wanted to plant in this movie, that might be able to grow in more of these movies if they decide to make more of them, is: What if this went open source? It's almost like InGen is Mac, but what if PC gets their hands on it? What if there are 15 different entities around the world who can make a dinosaur?"

The Action will Return to Hawaii

Jurassic World Hawaii

Colin Trevorrow said that it won't "just" be dinosaurs chasing people around on an island. That is not to say that there isn't still going to be an abandoned amusement park with a lot of dinosaurs running around on it who could chase some people around at least a little bit. It looks like we will be getting at least some classic Jurassic Park action in Jurassic World 2, as reports have confirmed that at least some shooting will take place in Hawaii, where much the production on the other movies in the franchise has taken place. While most of us definitely want to see something a little fresh and different from Jurassic World 2, it will be nice to see some of the familiar sites from the other movies, and to have that classic dinosaur island vibe for at least part of the movie.

Shooting Begins in 2017

Jurassic World Shooting

We know that at least part of Jurassic World 2 is going to be filming in Hawaii, and other parts of the movie are going to be shot in the United Kingdom. What we also know, thanks in part to the fan site Jurassic Outpost and from producer Frank Marshall himself, is that the movie will be filming in early 2017. According to Jurassic Outpost, the exact date for production to start is February 27, 2017. It wasn't made clear if that is when the crews will start moving in, or if that is when cameras will actually start rolling. Marshall, for his part, said the movie will be shooting "sometime early next spring" in an interview with Collider. So the good news is, next spring when the cameras start rolling, we will be getting all kinds of set pictures, details, and dinosaur goodness.

It will Be the Second Part of a Trilogy

Jurassic World Trilogy

We still don't even know all that much about what is going to happen in Jurassic World 2, at least in terms of specifics, but we do know that if things go well, Universal has plans to make it a trilogy. Given the $1.6 billion haul that the first Jurassic World brought in, they shouldn't be overly worried about the sequel not making enough money to justify a third entry. But will there be a good story to tell? Well, according to Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley, there is. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter last year, Langley said "Colin Trevorrow is busy working on an outline. He's been working with Steven Spielberg. And they have an idea for the next two movies actually." What is perhaps most encouraging is that she went on to say that the studio did not push them to do so. The idea to make it a trilogy came from Trevorrow and Spielberg. Langley added "It was designed as a trilogy, unbeknown to us. It's a happy surprise." Assuming both movies can be as good as the first one, it should be a happy surprise to all Jurassic Park fans out there.

For a good many years, many of us thought that the Jurassic Park franchise was totally and completely dead. And honestly, there aren't a lot of sequels that can come out 14 years after the last entry in the franchise and be any good. Jurassic World was good, and it gave us all a lot of hope that Jurassic World 2 can keep moving with that momentum, and give us another worthy entry in what is without question the best dinosaur movie franchise ever. Jurassic World 2 is set for release on June 22, 2018. Be sure to stay tuned, as we will keep you up to date on any new information as it becomes available.

Ryan Scott at Movieweb
Ryan Scott