Disney's Jungle Cruise has added both The Jungle Book visual effects supervisor J.D. Schwalm and The Gunman cinematographer Flavio Martinez Labiano to its production crew. Filming on the Mouse House's theme park ride-turned movie is slated to get underway next April, with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson starring and director Jaume Collet-Serra (Run All Night) calling the shots.
The Jungle Cruise theme park ride debuted at Disneyland in California back in 1955 and is still active today, as part of the park's Adventureland region. In 2011, Disney announced plans to adapt the ride into a live-action buddy adventure starring Woody and Buzz themselves, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, but that iteration of the project never actually came to fruition. Much like the ride takes guests on a riverboat trip around the world circa the 1930s, the Dwayne Johnson-led Jungle Cruise movie is set in the 1920s and will feature The Rock as a riverboat captain who goes on a whirlwind jungle safari.
Omega Underground is reporting that Schwalm will serve as Jungle Cruise's VFX supervisor - making the film his third collaboration with The Rock after The Fate of the Furious and next year's Rampage video game adaptation - while Labiano serves as its director of photography. The site is also reporting that Jungle Cruise will be filming primarily on sound stages in Atlanta, but will also film on-location in South America, after production gets started next spring.
Schwalm's involvement suggests that Jungle Cruise will include photorealistic animals on the level with the Oscar-winning CGI creatures that were featured in Disney's live-action Jungle Book, which is certainly encouraging news. (Indeed, the wild animals in the film will probably look far more convincing than the charmingly-dated animatronics in the actual Jungle Cruise ride.) It's also nice to hear that Jungle Cruise will include some actual South American locations, amidst its CGI backdrops and practical sets. Labiano previously collaborated with Collet-Serra on the slickly photographed thrillers Non-Stop and The Shallows, so Jungle Cruise's settings ought to look equally polished in motion.
While there have been a handful of Disney theme park movie adaptations put into development over the past few years (most notably, Guillermo del Toro's Haunted Mansion), Jungle Cruise will be the first one to actually make it past early development. With an A-list star and some top notch talent behind the camera - including, the future Joker and Harley Quinn directors Glenn Ficarra and John Requa as the screenwriters - Jungle Cruise may yet follow in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl's footsteps and successfully turn a classic Disney park ride into a great blockbuster event.
Jungle Cruise doesn't have an official theatrical release date yet.
Source: Omega Underground