Everything We Know About ‘Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle’
By Jaclyn Cascio (@jaclynator)
In 1995, a board game came alive and moved us from the world of imagination into a world where animals stampede through the house, monkeys instigate shenanigans, and the vines grow freely. Now, more than 20 years later, we revisit Jumanji. To see where the adventure will lead and find out what we know about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, read on!
Back in July 2012, rumors began to fly that a new Jumanji project was in development. By August, the project was confirmed and even had original Jumanji producer, William Teitler, signed on to produce the new film. Three years later, in August 2015, Sony Pictures Entertainment had announced the film, along with a release date. While the original script was penned by Erik Sommers (Spider-Man: Homecoming) and Chris McKenna (Community), in October 2015, Scott Rosenberg (Con Air) and Jeff Pinkner (The Amazing Spider-Man 2) were tasked with rewriting the film’s script. In 2016, the casting process was in full swing and principal photography finally began in September 2016.
The title, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, was officially announced at CinemaCon in Las Vegas this March. If you follow Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson or Kevin Hart on Instagram, you’ve likely been privy to plenty of set photos and accounts of tom foolery while filming the Jake Kasdan (Bad Teacher) directed movie. Footage shown at CinemaCon appeared to reflect the cast’s energy on screen and had attendees chatting about the upcoming film. Produced by Ted Field, Matthew Tolmach, Mike Weber, William Teitler, and Dwayne Johnson, the new Jumanji film is a comedic action adventure continuing the story we all fell in love with based on Chris Van Allsburg’s children’s book. (You might also be familiar with Allsburg’s other big hit, “The Polar Express.”)
To be clear, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is not a reboot of the franchise as much as it is a sequel. Lead actor and producer Dwayne Johnson said, “For the record, we are NOT making a reboot, but rather a continuation of the awesome Jumanji story.” Another of the film’s stars, Kevin Hart, has reported that the purpose of the movie is to “pay homage to all parties that were involved in [the original] and just make it special for this generation.”
How are they going to accomplish this? The story is going to be modernized a bit, and will play off some of the events of the jungle related in the original 1995 film. Four teenagers who’ve gotten themselves in trouble find themselves in detention. As part of their punishment, they are tasked with cleaning the high school’s basement. While down in the heart of the school, they find a 90s video game console and a cartridge game… It’s Jumanji. Of course, like any teenagers who are putting off menial labor tasks, they sit down to play the game. They set up their avatar characters and before they know it, they get sucked into the jungle of the game. The four kids have become their characters and with three lives each, they have to try to place a jewel back in a statue to finish the game and escape.
The dorky kid of the group becomes a muscle-bound character named Dr. Smolder Bravestone (played by Dwayne Johnson). The athletic jock of the group becomes Moose Finbarr (portrayed by comedian Kevin Hart). Meanwhile, the stereotypical beautiful girl finds herself as Professor Shelly Oberon (Jack Black), and the trouble continues with the shy and quiet girl of the group becoming Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan). So if you were wondering about that skimpy outfit Karen Gillan is wearing in the promotional photos for the movie, she’s playing a 90s video game character, and as much as we might hate to admit it, they all seemed to be very similar to Lara Croft. (The film reportedly jokes frequently about this particular trope.)
While in the game, the teens come across Alex (played by Nick Jonas) who seems to know a lot about the game and Alan Parrish. (We’ll get back to this in a moment). They have a guide who tells them their mission and helps them along… It’s likely that Alex and the guide are one and the same. The battle to get out of the game continues, with dance fighting, super strength, a terrible incident reminiscent of “Hungry Hungry Hippos,” and a flamethrower, all to the music compositions of James Newton Howard (After Earth).
Other cast members include Alex Wolff as Spencer, Ser’Darius Blain as Anthony “Fridge” Johnson, Madison Iseman as Bethany, Maribeth Monroe as her teacher. Other school staff includes Missi Pyle as Coach Webb and Marc Evan Jackson as Principal Bentley. We will also see Morgan Turner as a character named Martha, Rhys Darby as Nigel, and Tim Matheson as Old Man Vreeke.
As you have been reading, you might notice that there’s no Parrish character, either young or old. If you’re concerned about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle doing justice to the memory of the departed Robin Williams, you aren’t alone. Even the show’s stars are well aware that they have a responsibility to his work on the original film. Those involved in the project have said that they will pay tribute to Williams, and they hope to make him proud with what they’ve done in this film and their homage to him. With a heartfelt Instagram post by Dwayne Johnson describing his first experience meeting Robin Williams, it’s probably safe to say that there is a strong effort being made to avoid any disrespect of the deceased actor.
Now that you have the scoop on the film, make plans to hit the theaters during the holiday break this year. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is slated for release in the U.S. on December 20, 2017.