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Michael Crichton - on the Screen

Updated on January 8, 2015
Coma (1978)
Coma (1978)
Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
Westworld (1973)
Westworld (1973)
The Lost World (1997) Cinefex Magazine
The Lost World (1997) Cinefex Magazine

A Chronology of movies adapted from the books of best-selling author Michael Crichton.

Quick Facts – Michael Crichton was one of the most popular authors in the world selling over 200 million books. He specialised in medical thrillers and science fiction.

Crichton was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1942. He was very tall, 6ft 9in. He graduated from Harvard with an M.D. His first published novel was Odds On in 1966 written under the pseudonym John Lange.

His first best-selling novel was The Andromeda Strain (1969) which was made into a successful movie. Interested in moviemaking Crichton directed his first movie Pursuit for TV in 1972 and his first theatrical film, Westworld, in 1973.

In 1993 his novel Jurassic Park was filmed by Steven Spielberg and became the highest grossing film of all time. Crichton created the hit medical drama series ER in 1994, which ended its run after 15 seasons and 331 episodes in 2006. Crichton died of throat cancer in November 2008, he was 66.

Bibliography -

1966 - Odds On
1967 - Scratch One
1968 - Easy Go
1968 - A Case of Need
1969 - Zero Cool
1969 - The Andromeda Strain
1969 - The Venom Business
1970 - Drug of Choice
1970 - Dealing
1970 - Grave Descend
1972 - Binary
1972 - The Terminal Man
1975 - The Great Train Robbery
1976 - Eaters of the Dead
1980 - Congo
1987 - Sphere
1990 - Jurassic Park
1992 - Rising Sun
1994 - Disclosure
1995 - The Lost World
1996 - Airframe
1999 - Timeline
2002 - Prey
2004 - State of Fear
2006 - Next
2009 - Pirate Latitudes
2011 - Micro


The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The Andromeda Strain (1971)
The Andromeda Strain (1971) poster
The Andromeda Strain (1971) poster


The Andromeda Strain (1971) directed by Robert Wise and starring Arthur Hill, David Wayne, James Olson and Kate Reid. 131mins.

Adapted from Crichton's 1969 novel. An alien virus on board a returning space probe threatens the entire world. A team of scientists in a hi-tech underground facility race against time to find a way to stop the virus from spreading.

Robert Wise had also directed the sci-fi classic The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979).

IMDB rating 7.2

Pursuit (1972) poster
Pursuit (1972) poster



Pursuit (1972) directed by Michael Crichton and starring Ben Gazzara, E.G. Marshall, William Windom, Joseph Wiseman and Martin Sheen. 73mins.

Crichton's directorial debut, adapted from his novel Binary (1972) written under the pseudonym John Lange.

A political extremist threatens San Diego with deadly nerve gas.

IMDB rating 5.8


James Coburn in The Carey Treatment
James Coburn in The Carey Treatment
The Carey Treatment (1972) poster
The Carey Treatment (1972) poster


The Carey Treatment (1972) directed by Blake Edwards and starring James Coburn, Jennifer O'Neill, Pat Hingle and Elizabeth Allen. 101mins.

Based on Crichton's mystery novel A Case of Need (1968) written under the pseudonym Jeffery Hudson.

Dr. Peter Carey (Coburn) tries to solve a grisly mystery at a Boston hospital, which leads to a gory climax.

IMDB rating 6.1

Yul Brynner in Westworld (1973)
Yul Brynner in Westworld (1973)
Westworld (1973) poster
Westworld (1973) poster

Westworld (1973) written and directed by Michael Crichton, starring Yul Brynner, Richard Benjamin and James Brolin. 88mins.

The first use of computer effects outside of monitor displays. In order to show the robots point of view the image was digitised, it took hours just to produce a few seconds of film.

An elaborate theme park breaks down, the robot inhabitants start killing the guests, Yul Brynner's unstoppable cyborg was the precursor to James Cameron's Terminator. The idea of a theme park gone awry will be used again by Crichton in Jurassic Park.

Westworld was a surprise hit in 1973 leading to a sequel Futureworld (1976).

IMDB rating 7.0

The Terminal Man (1974)
The Terminal Man (1974)


The Terminal Man (1974) directed by Mike Hodges, starring George Segal, Joan Hackett, Richard Dysart, Donald Moffat and Jill Clayburgh. 107mins.

Based on Crichton's novel The Terminal Man (1972).

A brilliant scientist with a microship inserted into his brain starts to have delusions and violent seizures.

IMDB rating 5.7

Genevieve Bujold and Michael Douglas in Coma (1978)
Genevieve Bujold and Michael Douglas in Coma (1978)
Coma (1978) poster
Coma (1978) poster

Coma (1978) written and directed by Michael Crichton, starring Michael Douglas, Genevieve Bujold, Elizabeth Ashley, Rip Torn, Lois Chiles, Richard Widmark, Tom Selleck and Ed Harris. 113mins.

Adapted from Robin Cook's novel of the same name.

After her friend goes into a coma during minor surgery a young woman doctor (Bujold) discovers other similar cases of healthy people ending up the same way at the same operating theater. Suspecting something sinister is going on she wonders if she can even trust her physician boyfriend (Douglas).

IMDB rating 6.8

Donald Sutherland and Sean Connery in The Great Train Robbery (1979)
Donald Sutherland and Sean Connery in The Great Train Robbery (1979)
The Great Train Robbery (1979) poster
The Great Train Robbery (1979) poster


The Great Train Robbery (1979) directed by Michael Crichton, starring Sean Connery, Donald Sutherland, Lesley-Anne Down, Alan Webb, Michael Elphick, Wayne Sleep and Pamela Salem. 110mins.

Retitled The First Great Train Robbery in the UK so as not to confuse it with the notorious robbery of a mail train in the 1960s which was dubbed The Great Train Robbery.

Based on Crichton's novel of the same name published in 1975.

1854. Connery and Sutherland plan to rob a train carrying a shipment of gold.

IMDB rating 6.9

Looker (1981) poster
Looker (1981) poster



Looker (1981) written and directed by Michael Crichton, starring Albert Finney, James Coburn, Susan Dey, Leigh Taylor-Young and Darryl Hickman. 92mins.

Dr. Roberts (Finney) is a brilliant plastic surgeon who uncovers a sinister mind-control conspiracy. When three of his patients are murdered in suspicious circumstances, he takes it upon himself to solve the mystery.

Notable as the first film to attempt a realistic computer generated character, a year before Tron was released.

IMDB rating 5.9.

Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons in Runaway (1984)
Tom Selleck and Gene Simmons in Runaway (1984)
Runaway (1984) poster
Runaway (1984) poster

Runaway (1984) written and directed by Michael Crichton, starring Tom Selleck, Cynthia Rhodes, Gene Simmons, Kirstie Alley, Stan Shaw and G.W. Bailey. 99mins.

The future and Sgt Ramsay (Selleck) specialises in capturing and deactivating malfunctioning robots, known as 'runaways'. He becomes the target of Luther (Simmons) a madman who is programming robots to kill people.

Gene Simmons is co-vocalist and bass guitarist from the rock group Kiss.

That cool-looking futuristic gun held by Selleck in the poster is actually only used by the villain (Simmons) in the film.

IMDB rating 5.8

Teresa Russell and Burt Reynolds in Physical Evidence (1989)
Teresa Russell and Burt Reynolds in Physical Evidence (1989)
Physical Evidence (1979) poster
Physical Evidence (1979) poster



Physical Evidence (1989) directed by Michael Crichton, starring Burt Reynolds, Theresa Russell, Ned Beatty, Kay Lenz and Ted McGinley. 99mins.

Originally planned as a sequel to Jagged Edge with Glenn Close reprising her character from that film.

A former detective (Reynolds) is accused of murder, he insists on his innocence, but all evidence leads to him being the killer.

Crichton's last film as director.

IMDB rating 4.9

Sam Neill and Laura Dern in Jurassic Park (1993)
Sam Neill and Laura Dern in Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)
Jurassic Park (1993)

Jurassic Park (1993) directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Sam Neill, Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum, Richard Attenborough, Bob Peck, Martin Ferrero, Joseph Mazzello, Ariana Richards, Samuel L. Jackson and Wayne Knight. 127mins.

Adapted from Crichton's best-selling sci-fi novel, Jurassic Park (1990).

Jurassic Park was notable for being the first movie to depict photo-realistic computer-generated dinosaurs. The film cost $63m and went on to gross a record-breaking $914m worldwide.

Nominated and winning three Oscars - Best Sound, Best Sound Effects and Best Visual Effects. It also won Saturn Awards for Best Director and Best SF Film at the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.

IMDB rating 7.9

Rising Sun (1993) poster
Rising Sun (1993) poster



Rising Sun (1993) directed by Philip Kaufman, starring Sean Connery, Wesley Snipes, Harvey Keitel, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Kevin Anderson, Ray Wise, Stan Shaw, Tia Carrere, Steve Buscemi and Mako. 125mins

Connery and Snipes are out to solve a murder which took place at a Japanese corporation in Los Angeles.

Adapted from Crichton's 1992 novel of the same name. In the novel Snipes character was caucasian and the killer was not the person shown in the film.

IMDB rating 6.1

Michael Douglas and Demi Moore in Disclosure (1994)
Michael Douglas and Demi Moore in Disclosure (1994)
Disclosure (1994) poster
Disclosure (1994) poster


Disclosure (1994) directed by Barry Levinson, starring Michael Douglas, Demi Moore, Donald Sutherland, Caroline Goodall, Dylan Baker, Rosemary Forsyth and Dennis Miller. 128mins.

Adapted from Crichton's novel, Disclosure (1994), he sold the movie rights before the novel was published.

Tom Sanders (Douglas) is sued for sexual harassment by his boss and former lover (Moore) after he spurns her advances. The action threatens both his career and his personal life.

Michelle Pfeiffer and Geena Davis were considered for the female lead.

IMDB rating 5.9

Congo (1995)
Congo (1995)
Congo (1995) poster
Congo (1995) poster


Congo (1995) directed by Frank Marshall, starring Laura Linney, Dylan Walsh, Ernie Hudson, Tim Curry, Grant Heslov and Joe Don Baker. 109mins.

Adapted from Crichton's novel, Congo (1980).

An expedition to Africa searching for valuable diamonds, discovers the legendary lost city of Zinj, but the place is inhabited by vicious albino apes.

The apes were originally meant to be computer-generated but the fur did not look real.

IMDB rating 4.7

Twister (1996)
Twister (1996)
Twister (1996) poster
Twister (1996) poster


Twister (1996) directed by Jan de Bont, starring Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, Cary Elwes, Jami Gertz, Alan Ruck and Philip Seymour Hoffman. 113mins.

The film was written by Michael Crichton and (his wife at the time) Anne-Marie Martin.

A team of storm chasers attempt to release hundreds of special sensors inside the funnel of a tornado.

Oscar nominated for Best Sound and Best Visual Effects.

Twister cost $92m and grossed $494m, the 2nd biggest film of the year, Independence Day was no.1.

IMDB rating 6.1

The Lost World (1997)
The Lost World (1997)
The Lost World (1997)
The Lost World (1997)
The Lost World (1997)
The Lost World (1997)

The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) directed by Steven Spielberg, starring Jeff Goldblum, Julianne Moore, Vince Vaughn, Pete Postlethwaite, Arliss Howard, Peter Stormare and Richard Attenborough. 129mins

Based on Crichton's novel The Lost World (1995).

A sequel to the megahit Jurassic Park (1993). Nominated for a Visual Effects Oscar but it was up against Titanic (1997).

The Lost World cost $73m and grossed $618m worldwide.

IMDB rating 6.2

Sphere (1998)
Sphere (1998)
Sphere (1998) poster
Sphere (1998) poster


Sphere (1998) directed by Barry Levinson, starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, Samuel L. Jackson, Peter Coyote, Liev Schreiber and Queen Latifah. 134mins

Adapted from Crichtons 1987 novel of the same name.

A spaceship of alien origin is found at the bottom of the Pacific ocean, it had been laying there for 300 years. A team of scientists go to investigate.

Sphere grossed $37m at the US box office, it cost $80m.

IMDB rating 5.7

The 13th Warrior (1999) poster
The 13th Warrior (1999) poster

The 13th Warrior (1999) directed by John McTiernan, starring Antonio Banderas, Vladimir Kulich, Dennis Storhoi, Daniel Southern, Neil Maffin, Diane Venora and Omar Sharif. 102mins.

Adapted from Crichtons historical novel, Eaters of the Dead (1976).

AD 922, Ahmed (Banderas) accompanies a party of Vikings to the barbaric North where he is enlisted to combat a tribe of vicious neanderthals that slaughter Vikings and eat their flesh.

The film cost nearly $100m and grossed $62m worldwide.

IMDB rating 6.4

Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic Park III (2001)
Sam Neill in Jurassic Park III (2001)
Sam Neill in Jurassic Park III (2001)
Jurassic Park (2001) poster
Jurassic Park (2001) poster


Jurassic Park III (2001) directed by Joe Johnston, starring Sam Neill, William Macy, Tea leoni, Alessandro Nivola, Trevor Morgan, Michael Jeter, John Diehl, Bruce A. Young and Laura Dern. 92mins.

A second sequel to Jurassic Park. Based on characters created by Michael Crichton.

The Spinosaurus was the largest animatronic puppet built at the time, it was powered by hydraulics and weighed 12 tons. For long shots of it running or when fighting a T-Rex a CG model was used.

Jurassic Park III cost $93m and grossed $368m worldwide.

IMDB rating 5.8

Timeline (2003) poster
Timeline (2003) poster


Timeline (2003) directed by Richard Donner, starring Paul Walker, Frances O' Connor, Gerald Butler, Billy Connolly, David Thewlis, Anna Friel, Neil McDonough, Michael Sheen, Lambert Wilson and Marton Csokas. 116mins

Based on Crichton's novel, Timeline (1999). A team of archaeologists travel back in time to the year 1357 using a wormhole for teleportation.

Post-production of the film was disastrous thanks to drastic re-cuts and studio interference after poor preview showings.

Timeline cost $80m grossing $44m worldwide.

IMDB rating 5.4

The Andromeda Strain (2008)
The Andromeda Strain (2008)

The Andromeda Strain (2008) directed by Mikael Salomon, starring Benjamin Bratt, Christa Miller, Louis Ferreira, Ricky Schroder, Eric McCormack, Andre Braugher and Viola Davis. 174mins.

A TV miniseries in two parts based on Crichton's novel, The Andromeda Strain (1969).

A team of scientists working in a top secret underground facility, study the effects of a lethal alien virus which was brought to Earth when a satellite crashed near a small town. Everyone in the town has died from the virus except an old man and a baby.

Nominated for six Emmy awards.

IMDB rating 6.1

The Andromeda Strain (2008) poster
The Andromeda Strain (2008) poster

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    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      It's been a few years since I saw First Great Train Robbery Bruce. Not even sure I have it on DVD. I did enjoy it, unusual story for Crichton, no robots, dinosaurs or viruses. :)

      Coma, I want to see again. Last time I saw it was probably on video in the 80's.

      Bruce, thanks for the review and comment!

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      Just rewatched Michael Crichton's The First Great Train Robbery....which he directed, wrote the novel and wrote the screenplay for back in 1978. "I just wanted the money"...great way to end the movie. My 1998 DVD is screaming for a blu-ray version. As I watched it on a very grainy old DVD I kept thinking how in the world did I watch so many movies on VHS? I am getting spoiled as I am getting older and picture quality is a major concern for me. Done with that many rant....I felt Crichton actually did a decent job of directing the movie...especially for a writer. I thought the stunts on top of the train were pretty good, and I just read that some of the stunts were done by Connery while the train traveled at 55 mph....I am sure he wished they had green screen movie magic back then.

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Gypsy Willow, appreciate the kind words. I was shocked when I heard he died, didn't even know he had cancer. He was one of the greats.

    • Gypsy Willow profile image

      Gypsy Willow 5 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

      Wonderful hub about my favorite author. So sad he died so young. I wrote a hub about him a couple of years back (pales in comparison to yours !) miss him still.

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Alun, your comment and kind words are appreciated. The Andromeda Strain is slow but the subject matter is so interesting that I don't mind it. It was a big hit in 1971. Robert Wise also directed the slowest Star Trek movie. :)

      One scene I don't like in Andromeda Strain is where they show the effect of the space virus on a rhesus monkey, to make the monkey's death look realistic they flooded its cage with carbon dioxide, essentially depriving it of oxygen which was a bit cruel. They quickly gave it oxygen when it looked like it was about to die.

    • Greensleeves Hubs profile image

      Greensleeves Hubs 5 years ago from Essex, UK

      Thanks for this tribute to one of the great innovative writers of science fiction. Several of the films (and novels) mentioned are classics and very original in their subject matter.

      I particularly like 'Westworld' - the association with Crichton's 'Jurassic Park' 'theme park gone wrong' scenario is well documented, but I'm glad you also note the parallel with 'Terminator'. That is less often mentioned, presumably because Crichton wasn't directly involved in the latter. But Yul Brynner's robot relentlessly pursuing a human seems very much the prototype of the Terminator.

      I have mixed feelings about 'The Andromeda Strain'. I must admit I found the film a little slow, and yet perversely I really admire the fact that this was that rarity - a film which treated the business of scientific research seriously, and without cliches. Maybe that's what made it seem slow to me, but still I can appreciate it for the realism.

      Also, 'Coma' is a favourite, and - of course - the Jurassic Park series, (though that's probably got more to do with the fact that I love dinosaurs more than the genius of Michael Crichton!)

      Anyway, a very good, comprehensive tribute and very well illustrated.

      Alun

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Hi Jools, thanks for commenting. hoho I bought Sphere on DVD, Congo too. The critics hated them but I didn't think they were that bad. They do grow on you, no? :)

      Westworld is an old classic now, nearly 40 years old! Yul Brynner as the Terminator, burnt, disfigured and he still won't stop. It must have been a big influence on James Cameron.

      Than we had Futureworld, which Crichton had nothing to do with and 20 years later there was Waterworld with Kevin[STOP IT STEVE!)

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 5 years ago from North-East UK

      Steve, interesting hub. My favourite two from his movies are West World - I remember being totally blown away by it the first time I saw it and I have seen it a fair few times since. I also really liked Coma which I found quite shocking when I first saw it. Unfortunately, I also saw the dreadful 'Sphere' - easily one of the worse films I have ever seen, no wonder it lost so much money, what was Dustin Hoffman thinking?

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Dee42. thanks for commenting on my Crichton hub, much appreciated. I was surprised with some of the films he wrote too.

    • Dee42 profile image

      Dee42 5 years ago from Beautiful Arkansas

      Man O' Man!! Loved this Hub!! Like Cogerson, I didn't know he did so much! I remember the first time I seen Adromeda Strain(1971) my heart was beating so fast, just like Jurassic Park did.And I've seen most of that stuff, wow. Major Coolness and voted up.

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Thanks Bruce, appreciate the info, observation, comment and votes.

      I did one on Stephen King recently so I thought I'd continue the author series. I've got another one prepared already. :)

      Runaway is a film I watched quite a few times on video back in the 80's, I thought Gene Simmons made an excellent villain.

      I'm interested in seeing Timeline and the TV version of Andromeda Strain.

      Thanks for posting.

    • Cogerson profile image

      Cogerson 5 years ago from Virginia

      Nice hub Steve. I was unaware that so many of his books had been turned into movies. I would say my favorites would be Jurassic Park 1(still upset that in the states you can not buy just Jurassic Park on blu-ray without buying the entire trilogy), Coma, Looker(I liked Coburn's part), Westworld(Yul was the original Terminator) Runaway(I like the Gene Simmons bad guy), and the Great Train Robbery.

      I actually have seen both versions of The Andromeda Strain and would give the edge to the tv mini-series version. As for Timeline, I was not too impressed but I used to work with some people that thought Timeline was one of the best movies ever made.

      As for some of the ones I did not like very much, Sphere, Congo, and Disclosure. Of the ones listed I have seen 15 of them....and now I am curious about the other Coburn/Crichton movie The Carey Treatment.

      Interesting hub and a nice tribute to somebody that passed away too soon....voted up and interesting.

    • Steve Lensman profile image
      Author

      Steve Lensman 5 years ago from London, England

      Hey thanks Flora, appreciate the detailed comment, you're still one of the best commenters at HP. :)

      When I was researching this I was curious to see what films have been made from Crichton's books and which ones I've seen.

      Of the 21 titles listed I've seen 17, I haven't seen Pursuit, The Terminal Man, Timeline or the TV version of Andromeda Strain.

      Who would have thought Yul Brynner would be such an effective robot killer? And he wears the same outfit he wore in The Magnificent Seven.

      Robert Wise's The Andromeda Strain is one of my favourite sci-fi films, watched it many times over the years and it was one of the first films I wrote about in hubland.

      The Jurassic Park films are good fun and worth watching for the amazing visual effects. I think a 3rd sequel is being planned.

      Thanks as always for posting Flora.

    • profile image

      Flora Breen Robison 5 years ago

      How does a guest user find this first?

      I have seen a few Crichton movies, mostly mystery-adventure related rather than science fiction. I think of Michael as a suspense thriller author rather than science fiction, based on the type of books I like to read. However, based on my love of Yul Bryner- I am a big fan, I have seen Westworld I don't know how many times.

      I don't I will ever seen Jurassic Park or its sequels. Just not my cup of tea.

      Here are the films I've seen in the order you list them:

      The Andromeda Strain -the original version most of it, some was a bit much for me

      The Carey Treatment-for Coburn, I looked at the ceiling at the end

      Westworld (by the way:don't much care for the sequel-not enough Yul)

      Coma

      The Great Train Robbery-probably the film I have seen the most often, I enjoy it more than the rating imdb says I should-must be my love of the genre and actors

      Some of these films I forgot they had been made (Runaway), others I simply haven't seen (Disclosure)

      Based upon genre, actors, and imdb rating, among those I have not yet seen that you discuss it would appear that I am most likely to enjoy Rising Sun, even though I've not hear d of it.

      Meanwhile, the talent involved in Physical Evidence should have made a better film.A rating *under* 5 spells disaster. That must be why M.C. never directed again.

      Actors who have worked with Michael I admire in their overall careers, most notably,I think you can guess: Alphabetically:

      Yul Brynner

      James Coburn

      Sean Connery

      Michael Douglas

      Albert Finney

      Dustin Hoffman (not his latest comedies, but otherwise)

      Tom Selleck

      Martin Sheen (drat his film being about nerve gas)

      Donald Sutherland

      Richard Widmark

      My favourite director to work with him is Robert Wise.

      My favourite poster is for a film that I'm not sure I want to see: Sphere. I love it. black and white portraits with blue on the bottom.