Chris Van Allsburg’s award-winning 1981 illustrated children’s book, Jumanji, was the basis for the family-friendly, supernatural adventure film of the same name. Released in 1995, it starred Robin Williams (alongside a young Kirsten Dunst) under the direction of Joe Johnston – who’s perhaps better known nowadays for directing Jurassic Park III and Captain America.
Jumanji overcame mixed reviews to gross $263 million in theaters, eventually giving rise to a board game spinoff (based on the story’s namesake) and an animated TV series. While the long-rumored sequel never happened, a reboot/remake is now apparently in the cards (… yay?).
Columbia co-head Douglas Belgrad dropped the tidbit about a new Jumanji movie during a talk with The Hollywood Reporter, where he also dropped juicy tidbits about Amazing Spider-Man 2, Men in Black IV and 21 Jump Street 2. The plan is to “try and reimagine ‘Jumanji’ and update it for the present.”
Allsburg’s Jumanji book has a simple premise: hijinks and adventure ensues after some children begin to play a jungle-themed supernatural board game. Johnston’s film adaptation (based on a screen story co-written by Allsburg) doesn’t expand on the source material’s mythology, but does incorporate additional characters into the mix. Both versions of Jumanji are pretty timeless stories and nothing about them really feels “outdated” - unless you count the scene where Dunst’s character identifies the present year as 1995 (or the CGI effects, which are admittedly kind of shoddy by today’s standards).
That’s all to say: a new Jumanji movie doesn’t read as a project with potential to feel like a true reinvention of Allsburg’s original concept, once it’s been updated for a 21st century context (unlike, say, the RoboCop and Carrie remakes). The final product will probably unfold as little more than a shinier rehash of what’s been done before, with the sort of added touches one expects from a generic family movie nowadays (see: pop culture references/product placement in The Smurfs).
To be fair, though, we’ve yet to learn anything about what creative personnel is going to be recruited for the Jumanji remake/reboot (or whatever their approach will be). So who knows? Maybe this writer will be eating humble pie at the end of the day – assuming the project even comes to fruition (we’ll see about that, as well).
Anyone interested in a new Jumanji movie? Let us know in the comments section.