This past summer, Columbia announced plans to remake the hit 1995 family film Jumanji, which was based on an award-winning 1981 book of the same name. The first film, starring Robin Williams and a young Kirsten Dunst, revolved around a unique and deadly board game that brings a magical jungle into the real world.
At the time, Columbia co-head Doug Belgrad said that the plan was to "try and reimagine ‘Jumanji’ and update it for the present." Now, the studio has found a writer to help them bring their new vision of the classic children's book to life.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Stranger Than Fiction screenwriter Zach Helm has been hired to script the film. Most recently, Helm was hired to rewrite the Ben Stiller film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Helm has experience in the world of family film, having also written and directed Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium.
When we first reported on the Jumanji remake, the reaction in the comments section was overwhelmingly negative. The general response was that Hollywood was ruining another "classic" film by remaking it for modern audiences.
To a point, this reaction was understandable. For a generation of moviegoers who grew up in the 1990s (a group in which I'm included), the thought of changing one of their favorite childhood movies was seen as nothing short of sacrilege.
That being said, there's no reason to march on Columbia's studios with torches and pitchforks just yet. Helm is a capable screenwriter and there's a lot of a potential to not only capture the magic of the first film but to actually improve upon it, as well. If Columbia is able to attach an interesting director to the film, the Jumanji remake could become a hit family film for a whole new generation of kids.
You just have to take off the rose-colored glasses of your childhood and ask one question: Is there anything inherently unique about the original film that would make it unfit for a remake? Probably not. (If you disagree, please share your thoughts in the comments.)
Stay tuned for more news on the Jumanji remake.