by Roger Larter

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle now stands as one of the most successful films in the history of cinema, topping $900 million at the box office worldwide. The Jake Kasdan-helmed reboot of the classic 1995 family film has become Sony’s second most profitable movie, both globally and domestically, trailing just behind Spider-Man in the domestic market. When the film was first announced, critics and most adults over the age of 30 (the author of this article included) did little to surpass fears that the new feature would tarnish the legacy of the iconic Robin Williams origin movie. However, Welcome to the Jungle became quite the surprise hit in no small part since it completely distanced itself from the ‘90s classic.

Putting a video game format spin on the classic Jumanji jungle-adventure, it’s quite standard fare all-round from the starry cast. The Rock gives another solid performance as The Rock, Jack Black tried his best to channel his selfie-obsessed teenage girl alter-ego and Kevin Hart delivers his trademark blend of physical slapstick and silliness that has been seen everywhere from SNL sketches to his recent poker battle against Usain Bolt (overseen by pro player Daniel Negreanu, no less). And then there’s Amy Pond, sorry, Karen Gillan, who despite the burden of that costume is able to deliver yet another ‘gutsy female sidekick’ performance while keeping a moderately straight face.

When the film debuted in December 2017, it did come up against some tough competition, yet managed to edge out the latest in a long line of ‘disappointing’ DC releases – Justice League – and take the lead at the box office. It quickly became an instant hit domestically, with returns following New Year’s showings doubling, and in some cases, tripling projections. It’s generated high numbers in major markets, including Malaysia and Indonesia, and hasn’t even been released yet in Japan, which could potentially be a big market.

Variety recently confirmed that a sequel is in the works with Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner in negotiations for script-writing duties. The new video game format would allow the franchise to become an anthology series, with repeat instalments following the journeys of different teens sucked into the thrilling jungle adventure. The use of body-swapping as a plot device throughout the movie could also indicate that actors like Kevin Hart and Jack Black will be able to play the same avatars in future follow-ups, just inhabited by different original characters.

Regardless of whether they’ll be onboard for a fourth or fifth instalment in the franchise (yes, we’re counting the ‘95 OG as number one), Sony has confirmed that The Rock (aka Dwayne Johnson, who’s also onboard as a producer), Jack Black, Kevin Hart and Karen Gillan will all reprise their Welcome to the Jungle roles. It’s highly likely that Jake Kasdan will return as director with Matt Tolmach and the Seven Bucks Production team (formed by Johnson, Hiram Garcia and Dany Garcia) also returning to produce.


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