A few years ago, Columbia Pictures announced a plan to reboot the hit 1995 action-adventure film Jumanji, about a unique and deadly board game that magically transports its players to a jungle world – or brings the jungle world to them. Stranger than Fiction and Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium writer Zack Helm was brought on to write the script, which Columbia co-head Doug Belgrad said the reboot would “try and re-imagine Jumanji and update it for the present.” And then suddenly there was no more news about the project.
As a bonafide classic starring the late Robin Williams, Bonnie Hunt, Kirsten Dunst and more, Jumanji has worked its way into fans’ hearts over the years, and many of those same fans have expressed their reluctance to see the original redone. But now it seems the studio is again moving full speed ahead for a Christmas 2016 release date, with a new writer leading the charge.
According to Deadline, Scott Rosenberg has been tapped to do a rewrite on the Jumanji reboot, said to be a new adaptation of the original novel by Chris Van Allsburg rather than the 1995 film. At the very least, Rosenberg does appear to have the right experience for the job, since his last credit was writing and executive producing for the CBS series Zoo, alongside Josh Appelbaum, Andre Nemec and Jeff Pinkner (Fringe, Lost). In fact, Pinkner will also be a consultant on the new Jumanji.
Rosenberg himself is no stranger to combining action and comedy, as well as adapting novels for the big screen. Along with writing the box office hit Con Air, he’s also well known for penning Disturbing Behavior, High Fidelity and Gone in 60 Seconds. Pinkner, for his part, has recently been busy resurrecting Transformers as part of Paramount’s new writers room.
At first it seemed like maybe Columbia Pictures was going to take Jumanji in a more comedic direction in hiring Helm to write the script. Yet now with the addition of Rosenberg and Pinkner, it appears the studio has instead decided to make the reboot a bit more edgy, albeit perhaps a little silly like Zoo. Both properties not only now share the same writers, but they’re also both about animals running amok while humans work together to take them down. There are also some similarities between Jumanji and Lost, where characters are trapped in a mysterious new world.
Still, it’s interesting that Columbia plans to base the new movie on the book rather than the original film. The novel by Van Allsburg is focused on the children, Judy and Peter, who find and play the game, while Williams’ and Hunt’s older characters don’t even exist. The studio is clearly trying to capture the audience of Night at the Museum by releasing a family-adventure film at Christmas, but one wonders if it will have the same effect without an older character and tone for adults to follow.
For now, Jumanji is still scheduled to premiere in theaters on December 25th, 2016.