Every year, movie studios release Christmas blockbuster films, and in 2017 we were treated to the long-awaited sequel to the classic 1995 fantasy film Jumanji. The original film saw Kirsten Dunst and Bradley Pierce as siblings who release a man (Robin Williams) imprisoned within a magical board game for 26 years. They find themselves sucked into the game, and must compete to win in order to save their own lives! Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, which stars Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart, features a similar premise: teenagers sucked into the jungle inside a magical video game. Reviews are already saying it’s great! There’s no better way to refresh your memory than to rewatch the classic Jumanji, but in preparation for the sequel take a look at 43 tropical facts about Jumanji!
43. Where it All Began
Jumanji was released on December 15th, 1995. The film made $263 million worldwide—it was the 10th highest-grossing film of the year!
42. A Good Return
The film was made for a budget of $65 million, which at the time was a lot of money. The film’s then-cutting-edge visual effects were produced by Industrial Light & Magic, which must have eaten up a fair chunk of the budget.
41. The Real Brantford
Jumanji was filmed all over New England, but the town of Keene, New Hampshire stood in for the fictional Brantford, NH. The “Parrish Shoes” mural was painted on the side of a brick building in Keene for the shoot, but when the film crew cleared out, they erased any trace they’d been there. The town loved their ties to the film so much, they had the mural repainted, and it’s still there today!
40. Wouldn’t Have Been the Same
The role of Judy Shepherd, played by Kirsten Dunst, could have gone to another child starlet. Scarlett Johansson also auditioned for the part. Johansson’s audition tape resurfaced and made the rounds on the internet in 2014.
39. Makes Sense
Jonathan Hyde played both Van Pelt, the villainous big game hunter, and Sam Parrish, Alan’s distant father. No doubt there’s some symbolism at work there!
38. Original Story
Jumanji is based on a children’s book written by Chris Van Allsburg in 1981. He also wrote Polar Express.
37. Secret Meaning
According to Van Allsburg, “Jumanji” is a Zulu word meaning “many effects,” an allusion to all of the “exciting consequences” of the game, as mentioned in the film. Of course, it could have come to be an allusion to the film’s many state-of-the-art CGI visual effects!
36. A Consummate Joker
Comedian Robin Williams played Alan Parrish in the film. He told Entertainment Weekly that when fans asked him what “Jumanji” means, he’d occasionally make up answers. If you ask a comedian a question, don’t be surprised if you get a joke for an answer!
35. Comedian Co-Star
Williams was a jokester on set too, much to the delight of his young co-stars. Dunst told the Chicago Tribune that Williams entertained them with improv and impressions. Child star Bradley Pierce said he loved Williams’ antics, but being a child, he didn’t understand many of Williams’ jokes, and didn’t know some of the impressions were of real people.
34. Veteran Actor
Dunst was only 13 when she filmed Jumanji, but she was already a seasoned veteran in the acting world. She had several acting credits to her name, including starring roles in Interview with the Vampire and Little Women!
33. Kindred Spirits
Williams told the Christian Science Monitor that he deeply related to his character. He said, “The story has… something much deeper and more disturbing. It’s the fear all children have of abandonment and separation from their parents… That’s something I can understand. As an only child, I had no siblings to play with, and my parents worked hard, and we moved around a lot.’”
32. A Look in the Mirror
Williams related to the characters of the Parrish family in other ways, too. He said at a roundtable interview in 1995 that the fractured relationship between Alan and his father reminded Williams of his own father’s relationship with his grandfather.
31. Across the Board
There are 110 squares on the Jumanji board. That’s more than double the squares on a Monopoly board (40) but not quite as many as on a Candyland board (134).
30. Too Scary!
Roger Ebert only gave the film one and a half stars, saying that while the film was being marketed as a children’s movie, in reality it was way too scary for young kids. Even Williams said he wouldn’t let his children watch it!
29. Sweet Deal
Despite receiving top billing as Jumanji’s star, Williams doesn’t appear until 28 minutes into the film.
28. Better Than “Back Of Horse”
Tom Woodruff, a puppeteer, was inside a crocodile costume, and wrestled with Williams in the film. Williams said in an interview that he’d get so riled up while filming that in one take, he bashed the crocodile on the head and heard “Hey, that hurts!” spoken by Woodruff inside the costume.
27. Multiple Roles
Woodruff was also operating the animatronic lion costume from inside.
26. Strange Experience
Williams said acting alongside CGI effects in Jumanji was like “taking LSD” because you had to “hallucinate everything.” As special effects and graphics are inserted into the film in post-production, actors must “interact” with animals and objects that aren’t really there.
25. Occupational Hazard
Dunst said that while filming the monsoon scenes, she spent “like, two weeks” in a water tank. Her mom sent sandwiches over to her on a little raft.
24. Graphic Description
Of another time spent in the water, Williams later said of a scene where he’s flushed down a flight of stairs: “I was in a water tank for 12 hours…By the end of the day, my genitals looked like raisins.”
23. Special Effects
To film the rhinoceros stampede, the production crew rigged a hydraulic ram to launch a steel rhinoceros through the wall of the library. The steel rhino was replaced by a herd of animals with CGI during post-production.
22. Continuity Errors
Eagle-eyed fans will notice a few continuity errors and goofs in the movie. For example, during the stampede scene, animals crash through the outer walls of the house. But in the monsoon scene, the house fills with water!
21. Too Real
Williams admitted in an interview that during the scene where Van Pelt is shooting at him, his fear wasn’t all acting. The blank gunfire was extremely loud on set!
20. Familiar Voice
Pierce also voiced Chip in Disney’s 1991 animated film Beauty And The Beast.
19. Family Reunion
Pierce and Dunst played siblings once more: the pair played brother and sister in the 1996 action film The Siege at Ruby Ridge.
18. Not That Much Older
Dunst plays Pierce’s older sister, and in the film she is noticeably taller than him. However, Dunst (then 13) was only 6 months older than Pierce.
17. Hard Work
Pierce found that the challenges of his role began long before the camera started rolling. He told the New York Times, “It was three and a half hours of makeup application every day for almost 70 days, and as a 12-year-old boy, sitting still for longer than five minutes can be challenging.”
16. Last Comes First
Films are often shot out of sequence, and Jumanji was no exception. Instead of building a second mansion set, the ending scenes were shot first because the mansion had to appear intact. After the end scenes were filmed, the rest of the movie was shot more or less in sequence, and you can see the mansion getting more and more wrecked as the movie goes on.
15. White Christmas
The final Christmas scene was shot on location in Vancouver, BC. Located in the Pacific Northwest, near Seattle, Vancouver isn’t known for it’s snowy winters—it’s mostly rainy all season. Jumanji’s production crew had to shovel fresh snow down from the mountains in order to film the outside of the mansion.
14. Spiritual Sequel
Van Allsburg’s book Zathura (2002), and the subsequent film version (2005), were intended to be “spiritual sequels” to Jumanji. The book is a sequel to the Jumanji book, and makes reference to events in Jumanji. However, in the film, there is no crossover material, and it doesn’t mention Jumanji at all (despite being billed as “From the world of Jumanji”). Jumanji and Zathura have similar premises: actions in a board game come true in real life.
13. Play At Home!
Jumanji wasn’t a real board game before the film was released, but Milton Bradley was quick to jump on the film’s success and create a real version. There aren’t any reports of the Jumanji board game sucking people into it in real life, but the game did require players to roll dice and work strategically to win the game.
12. Digital Jungle
A Jumanji computer game was released for Microsoft Windows in 1996, featuring arcade-style mini games based on popular scenes from the film. Mini-games were titled “Jumanji Treasure Maze,” “Monsoon Lagoon,” “Monkey Mission,” “Wild Hunter,” “Tiny Bites,” and “Tato Skins.”
Williams was beloved by Keene, NH townsfolk during filming. He was even presented with the keys to the city by Keene’s mayor in 1994! After his death, Keene residents crafted a makeshift memorial of flowers and candles below the Parrish Shoes sign, and even organized a public screening of the film.
10. Desired Memorabilia
In 2015, the film’s director, Joe Johnston, sold the original Jumanji board—the one used in the film—on eBay for a whopping $60,800!
9. Treasured Souvenirs
Williams gave each cast member a hard-bound, signed copy of the script as a gift when shooting wrapped. In Pierce’s copy, Williams had written something along the lines of, “You were a great monkey boy and a pleasure to work with. You have a bright future ahead.”
8. Animated Adventures
Jumanji was spun off into an animated series in 1996. The cartoon version ran for three seasons, with 38 episodes in total.
7. Keep It Going
In 2015, it was announced that there would be a stand-alone sequel to Jumanji, called Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle. The film has a superstar cast including Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan, and Nick Jonas. The movie hit theaters on December 20th, 2017!
6. Second Time Around
Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is a stand-alone sequel to Jumanji, not a remake. It is set decades after the first film. It also serves as a tribute to Williams, who passed away in 2014.
5. In Memoriam
When it was announced that a sequel to Jumanji was being made for release, many people were upset by the news. They felt that not enough time had passed since the tragic death of Williams. Costar Pierce criticized the decision, saying a remake was “unnecessary and kind of insulting.” The project ended up taking a year longer than initially projected. Perhaps it was pushed back due to public sentiments?
4. Flipped Around
In Jumanji, the character of Allan Parrish is sucked into the Jumanji board game for 26 years, and when Judy and Peter begin to play the game, the jungle slowly appears in their home in the real world. In Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, four teenagers play a Jumanji video game and are sucked into the video game world, like Alan Parrish was before the first film!
3. Uncomfortable Wardrobe
In Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Ruby Roundhouse’s outfit was inspired by the garb of video game character Lara Croft, protagonist from the Tomb Raider game series. As an inside joke, Martha comments on how impractical the outfit would be to wear in the jungle.
2. A New Tradition
It’s been 22 years since Jumanji was released. In that time, many people who watched the original film have had children of their own, who may now be old enough to watch Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle with their ‘90s-kid parents!
1. A Powerful Inspiration
Everyone knows that Williams had struggled with drugs and depression prior to his suicide, but most people don’t know that one of his of Jumanji co-stars confessed something heartbreaking about how Williams acted on set.
Bradley Pierce, who played Peter Shepherd in the movie, confessed that Williams had opened up to him about depression. Bradley said that Williams had been an inspiration, motivating Pierce to talk openly about his own struggles with depression.
If only we all had somebody like Robin Williams at the right time in our lives to make that connection.