Robin Williams may have delivered a solid hit with 1995's Jumanji, but in Hollywood everything that's old is new again. That's why we're getting a brand new Jumanji movie with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Kevin Hart and Jack Black entering the magical world of the eponymous jungle board game. They're even throwing some Nick Jonas into the mix for added flavor. And now we have a better idea of how the new movie will relate to its '90s predecessor.
In a recent post to Instagram, Johnson clarified that the upcoming movie will actually be a continuation of the original film as opposed to a reboot of the property. As the star wrote:
This new movie will NOT be a remake or reboot of the original. It will be a CONTINUATION of the awesome JUMANJI adventure 20 years later. As a producer on this movie and someone who loves the original, you have my word we'll honor the legend of "Alan Parrish" and properly introduce a whole new generation to the fun and crazy JUMANJI universe that so many of us loved and grew up on.
Calling the new film a "continuation" is the equivalent of calling it a sequel, which would fall in line with Johnson's comments that the film would honor the memory of Williams and his character Alan Parrish. But a sequel to 1995's Jumanji could be a dangerous proposition, especially if recent moviegoing trends hold true in the coming years.
Could 2016's Floptastic Summer Repeat?
The summer of 2016 was primed to be one of the biggest at the box office, but a string of underperformers and flops have left audiences pretty jaded when it comes to Hollywood's biggest offerings. And it doesn't help that some of the biggest bombs were reboots, sequels and revivals of formerly successful franchises.
2016 tentpoles like Independence Day: Resurgence, Alice Through The Looking Glass and Jason Bourne have come to represent the worst in Hollywood sequels, seemingly brought to audiences in an attempt to cash in on familiarity. You liked previous entries in the series, so here's another one! For a more cynical crowd, the upcoming Jumanji might feel the same. It has the brand recognition and general goodwill that Hollywood loves, so why not make another one with a cast of bankable stars to launch a new franchise? Johnson's passionate Instagram posts might dissuade those concerns of a cash-grab for some, but it seems likely that Jumanji will be positioned as a major moneymaker.
Unfortunately, the film will also be released during the same summer as big screen adaptations of TV shows CHiPS and Baywatch (also starring Johnson), Universal's remake of The Mummy and the fifth entries in the Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. We can't speculate much on the quality of those movies until next summer comes around, though another glut of reboots and sequels could result in yet another bomb-filled season. Even if Jumanji lands with critics, it could suffer at the box office if it's lumped together with another season of unoriginal offerings.
Targeting A New Audience
With a July 2017 release date, the new Jumanji will hit theaters 22 years after the original film. That's a long wait for a true sequel, meaning that the new film will have to do a lot of work to win over new audiences.
There's no doubt that '90s nostalgia is pretty big in pop culture — just look at the staying power of Nickelodeon cartoons to see what I mean — but that might not propel Jumanji to success. The film isn't exactly a cultural touchstone, especially compared to other '90s family flicks like Toy Story, Jurassic Park or Home Alone. To succeed, Jumanji 2017 will need to appeal to a new audience that extends beyond the millennial nostalgia it no doubt will try to capture. And tying the movie too closely to the original could undermine that. Ideally, a movie should be enjoyable on its own — without having to go experience another film to inform the experience — and it's pretty unfair to expect families to watch a 20-plus year old movie before going to see the new one.
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What's The Winning Sequel Strategy?
Of course, it's not impossible to make a sequel to Jumanji, but the Rock's claims of a "continuation" instead of a reboot should be taken with a grain of salt. In fact, filmmakers would be smart to steer clear of the familiar bombs of 2016 and look back at the fresher sequels of 2015 for a template of how to tackle the project.
Films like Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World and Creed were successful sequels with many critics and fans alike thanks to a strong focus on new ideas while remaining true to their franchise roots. Creed introduced us to Michael B. Jordan's Adonis Creed, but included Sylvester Stallone's Rocky Balboa as an important character. Jurassic World returned the franchise to its original theme park setting while creating a more action-oriented story. And of course, Fury Road recast its star while maintaining the series's trademark dedication to post-apocalyptic mayhem.
Jumanji would be smart to mix elements of old and new for a fresh new story. Of course the movie's going to retain the titular magic board game, and we'd be happy to the nods to Alan Parrish that Johnson's teased. We're even down for the the villainous hunter Van Pelt to return, but continuing the story with a stronger focus on the new elements will help the sequel surpass this summer's slumps to be a real success.
Jumanji is set for release on July 28, 2017. Are you excited for a sequel to the 1995 hit? Let us know in the comments below.
[Source: Movie Insider]