Why Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle Isn’t A Direct Sequel, According To The Rock

It's a good time to be a 90's kid. With nostalgia proving an extremely profitable (and popular) trend in film production, we've seen a ton of fantastic 90's properties return to the pop culture lexicon through long awaited sequels and reboots. And millennials will once again be able to return to a simpler time next week, as Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle will arrive in theaters to introduce the terrifying board game to a new generation of fans. While set in the same universe, the new Jumanji film is hardly a direct sequel, as it features a new set of characters and different version of the titular game. But why did the studio go this route?

I recently had the privilege to speak with the cast of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in Hawaii, where the film was shot. When I asked Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson why the new film was so decidedly separate from the 1995 original, he told me:

We love the original movie of course. We wanted to show homage and respect to Robin Williams who we know and love, and what he did. And also wanted to, not necessarily create our own rules, but know that we had a canvas to play with that we could build on. Already that Jumanji magic.

This was probably the right call by Dwayne Johnson and the writers of Welcome to the Jungle. Because rather than being distracted by how the new sequel relates to the original, the new Jumanji film is able to stand on its own. Considering how beloved and iconic the original was, it all makes a great deal of sense.

Indeed, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a completely different type of film, and makes little to no connection to the 1995 classic. This actually helps the new film in many ways. Fans new and old are able to truly focus on the fun adventure of Welcome to the Jungle, without looking out for Kristen Dunst or Van Pelt the Hunter to show up as the avatars turn a corner. The physical board game itself is also barely a factor, as the kids actually use a retro video game that transports them into the game.

You can check out my conversation with Dwayne Johnson below, complete with appearances by Kevin Hart and Jack Black.

Welcome to the Jungle doesn't completely ignore the original Jumanji. As The Rock said in my above comment, there are moments that pay homage to Robin Williams' iconic film. This will be a delight for those moviegoers who grew up watching the first film in syndication, while not distracting from the main narrative of the blockbuster.

You can see for yourself when Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle arrives in theaters on December 20th. In the meantime, check out our 2018 release list to plan your trips to the movies in the New Year.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.