Jumanji made our childhoods. Who didn’t want to play a game that turned your house into a wild jungle? Now the jungle is back in a new movie starring Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan, and Kevin Hart. Since everyone is going ape for the film, here are 42 wild facts about Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
42. Sign of the Times
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is set almost 20 years after the original Jumanji, and times have changed. For Welcome to the Jungle, the Jumanji board game is now a video game.
There are call-backs to the original movie, however—like the treehouse Nick Jonas’ character lives in, which was built by Alan Parrish (Robin Williams’ character in the first movie), or the reappearance of the elephant playing piece.
The original Jumanji was based on a book by Chris van Allsburg. He then wrote a sequel, Zathura, about a game that transports a house into outer space—but that was already turned into another movie, so the writers of Welcome to the Jungle had to come up with something completely from scratch.
39. “A Continuation”
Writers took Welcome to the Jungle as a challenge to write a true sequel to Jumanji rather than a remake or a reboot. Director Jake Kasdan says that, while Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel, you don’t need to have seen the original to enjoy it.
38. Ruining Our Childhoods
When it was announced, there was a huge backlash against the new Jumanji movie. Most fans expected Welcome to the Jungle to be a remake, and they were not happy about it, with some reporters even calling the news “depressing.”
37. Too Soon
A lot of the criticism centered around the recent passing of Jumanji star Robin Williams. Many fans felt it was insensitive to remake Jumanji so soon after Williams’ 2014 death.
36. Name’s the Same
Dwayne Johnson has already starred in a movie called Welcome to the Jungle. Sort of. Welcome to the Jungle was the original name of his 2003 movie The Rundown, and it is still known by that name in some global markets.
35. Et tu, Bradley?
Pierce, who played Peter Shepherd in the original Jumanji, expressed his disappointment in the sequel, saying, “at this point it’s a little greedy, maybe even insensitive.”
34. A Year in the Jungle
The pre-emptive criticism of the new Jumanji movie slowed development and forced the writers to find away to keep even die-hard Jumanji fans happy. Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was supposed to be released on Christmas Day, 2016. It took a whole year of extra work, finally hitting theatres on December 20, 2017.
33. First Time for Everything
Welcome to the Jungle is a first for Dwayne Johnson. Despite the fact that Johnson is one of the biggest action-adventure stars of the last decade and has appeared in dozens of big-budget movies, none of these films ever premiered over the holidays.
Welcome to the Jungle began filming in September of 2016. Even though the Jumanji game is set in Africa, most of the filming was done in Hawaii.
31. “The Backlot of Hawaii”
More specifically, most of the shooting took place at Kualoa Ranch. Some viewers will find some locations familiar: the 4,000 acre nature preserve has served as the filming location for Jurassic Park and Godzilla, and offers VIP tours for adventurous movie fans.
The cast and crew kicked off filming with a blessing performed by a Kahu (a traditional Hawaiian priest). Johnson shared a video on his Instagram, saying “our Kahu eloquently spoke and reminded us that even though our faces are the ones on screen, it takes an AMAZING CREW OF EVERYONE to make this movie work.”
29. A Bunch of Characters
In Welcome to the Jungle, a group of teenagers get sucked into the Jumanji video game, forcing them to play as their chosen avatars. This resulted in some creative casting—like comedic actor Jack Black playing a teenage girl named Bethany.
28. Oscar-worthy Performance
According to his castmates, Black embodied the surprising role perfectly. When asked about being the only woman on-screen, co-star Karen Gillan said “I don’t look at it that way because Jack Black is so accurate. I just feel like there were two women in the movie.” Black said of playing a teenage girl, “it was the role I was born to play.”
Black had never seen the original Jumanji before being cast as Bethany/Professor Shelly Oberon. Let’s hope he’s taken the time to get educated on this masterpiece.
26. Big Fan
This was not the case for Karen Gillan, however, who plays video game heroine Ruby Roundhouse. The Scottish actress says Jumanji is one of her top three favorite films of all time.
25. Weird Coincidence
Nick Jonas goes on step further: he was watching Jumanji on his tour bus when he received the call that he had been cast as Jefferson “Seaplane” McDonough.
24. Swinging out of Production
Tom Holland was initially cast to play McDonough, but had to bow out to play Spider-Man, and was replaced by Jonas.
23. Achilles Heels
All the characters have strengths and weaknesses. For example, Mouse’s weakness is cake. Dr. Smolder Bravestone has no apparent weakness, but his strengths include “smoldering intensity” and “boomerang throwing.”
22. Real-life Inspiration
Seaplane McDonough’s weakness is “mosquito bites.” Jonas notes that in this case, life imitates art: He was the favourite target for some of Hawaii’s more blood-thirsty insects.
21. First Pick
Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart were the first choices for their roles (Dr. Smolder Bravestone and Franklin “Mouse” Finbar) and were cast right away. Johnson tweeted his excitement about the role in April 2016, months before shooting had even begun. Producers knew they could rely on Johnson and Hart’s on-screen chemistry: the two had previously appeared together in Central Intelligence, winning the Kids’ Choice “Best Friends Forever” Award for their roles in the film.
20. Easter Egg
The Rock added a secret tribute to Han Solo in his character’s costume. It’s subtle, but his low-slung holster is a tribute to the way Han wore his.
19. Busy Guys
Both Johnson and Hart have very busy schedules. Shooting for Welcome to the Jungle had to accommodate Johnson’s role in Ballers and The Fate of the Furious, and Hart was busy shooting The Upside. Luckily, this also gave the writers some extra time for last minute edits.
Johnson notes that working with Hart isn’t always easy. On the set of Welcome to the Jungle, Hart was known for angrily eating Doritos. Johnson explains, “the reason why he gets angry eating Doritos is because he prides himself on being a fitness fanatic, you know, right? So … he’ll start eating, I’ll just look at him and he goes, ‘Go f*** yourself.'”
Though don’t have share any scenes, Welcome to the Jungle was also a reunion for Jack Black and Colin Hanks, who plays Alex Vreeke. Black and Hanks had previously appeared together in the 2005 remake of King Kong.
16. Orange You Glad?
Welcome to the Jungle is actually the third movie to feature Black and Hanks. They had also played brothers in Orange County, which was directed by Welcome to the Jungle director Jake Kasdan.
15. Bulking Up the Role
Johnson, Gillan, Hart, and Black’s real-world teenage counterparts are played by Alex Wolff, Morgan Turner, Ser’Darius Blain, and Madison Iseman, respectively. Blain is 10 years older than his co-stars, which helps sell him as imposing high school athlete “Fridge” Johnson.
14. Don’t I Know You?
Tony Award-nominated Bobby Cannavale was cast as the villain of the movie, Russel Van Pelt. While not exactly same character, his name is a nod to the villain of Jumanji, the big-game hunter Van Pelt (played by Jonathan Hyde).
When shots from the film were released to the media, fans criticized Karen Gillan’s impractical outfit. The producers were quick to point out that Gillan’s character, Ruby Roundhouse, is based in part on Lara Croft, the Tomb Raider hero whose own skimpy costume has drawn criticism since the game’s release.
Ruby Roundhouse is an expert at Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines fighting with dancing. Gillan said she’s never had to train so hard for a movie before.
11. Creepy Crawly
“Mouse” Finbar’s weakness is cake. Kevin Hart’s real-life weakness is bugs—he hates them! Unfortunately, the Kualoa preserve is swarming with all sorts of spiders and mosquitoes. During shooting, his castmates (especially Dwayne Johnson) would try to frighten him by tickling him with blades of grass to make him think there were bugs crawling on him.
10. The Land Down Under
We commend Kevin Hart for sticking it out even though Kualoa is populated by creepy crawlies. To be fair, though, Hart kind of narrowed down location options. Hart says he would not have done Welcome to the Jungle if it had been filmed in Australia. “Everything in Australia can kill you. And it’s there. It’s 100 per cent there. So I am not going to go to the habitat where the killer s*** is,” Hart said.
9. Jumanji Jams
Both Jack Black and Nick Jonas have musical backgrounds, as does teenage star Alex Wolff. While on set, Black began writing a Jumanji song that became popular with the castmates. Dwayne Johnson, who calls it a Jumanji Broadway theme, says the gang have plans to perform it at the MTV Movie Awards.
8. Remember When
Not only does Welcome to the Jungle drop several references to Jumanji, it also features a few in-jokes about Dwayne Johnson’s past life as a football player and professional wrestler. For example, “Fridge” Johnson wears the number 94, the same as Dwayne Johnson when he played college football for the University of Miami.
7. Pith Helmet Patron
One of Black’s first acting gigs was a TV commercial for the jungle-themed video game Pitfall when he was still a kid. In the commercial, Black wears a pith helmet (yep, that’s what those things are called) similar to the one Professor Oberon wears in Welcome to the Jungle.
6. Uncharted Territory
In one scene set in Spencer’s bedroom, we can see a poster for the video game Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. The music for that game was composed by Henry Jackman, who composed the music for Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
5. The Family Business
Director Jake Kasdan has adventure stories in his blood. His father, Lawrence Kasdan, wrote the Indiana Jones movie Raiders of the Lost Ark.
4. It’s a Hit!
Although it had to spend its first two weeks as runner-up to the latest Star Wars movie, Welcome to the Jungle opened 2018 by surging into the #1 box office draw for the weekend. By the beginning of 2018, it had earned more than $500 million around the world.
3. Staying Power
Welcome to the Jungle kept the #1 spot for three straight weeks, making more than $750 million and becoming Sony’s biggest film hit since Spider-Man.
2. Spoiler Alert
Without giving too much away, the ending of Welcome to the Jungle seems to close the book on Jumanji once and for all. According to Gillan, however, an alternate ending left more room for a sequel, and a third Jumanji movie could be in the works.
1. No Thanks
One of the stars of the original claims that Robin Williams was asked shortly before his death if he would appear in a Jumanji sequel, and that surprisingly, Williams had said that he had no interest. So while we don’t know how Williams would have reacted to news of a new Jumanji film, we can assume he would not have been involved.
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