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There’s always a bit of glass to step over when studios reach for remaking a beloved film. So when Sony decided to make another movie based on one of the famed Robin Williams-led family films, Jumanji, the studio decided to make it a sequel instead. 2017’s Welcome To The Jungle established the world in the form of a video game instead of the board game to dodge some comparisons, and it became a blockbuster hit!
As the sequel, Jumanji: The Next Level, approaches theaters this weekend, CinemaBlend’s podcast ReelBlend spoke to one of the franchise’s producers, Hiram Garcia. He talked about the decision to connect the new movies to the 1995 classic. In his words:
The first Jumanji, the very first one with Robin Williams, is so beloved. It was beloved to us and what was important to us when we went and made Welcome to the Jungle was [that] we didn't want to remake Jumanji. That was never the goal. Because you want to let such a beloved film like that, that means so much to so many people, stand on its own. And we wanted to build upon it. We wanted to expand that universe. So that's why we always acknowledge the movie. That world existed. What happened there, you know, you feel elements of it, even in this movie. And so for us, the idea of expanding the Jumanji universe, and the idea of there [being] different versions of the game, there's different ways the game can challenge you. And the bigger we can make the universe, the more opportunities and challenges we can give to our heroes. You've met some of the avatars, you meet new avatars in this movie, and when you start to get into that space where now we're creating a Jumanji universe and every time you beat one version of the game, there's a new one.
This is interesting. While many people might think of the ‘90s and modern Jumanji movies as separate entities, Hiram Garcia explained how interconnected they are. The new movies are not meant to cancel out the movie that started it all, but expand the universe of the game established back with Robin Williams’ endearing Alan Parrish. It makes sense for a kid living in the ‘90s to find an old board game, and the new movies have the four teens dusting off an older video game.
The Jumanji: The Next Level producer also discussed about continuing to make the world “bigger” through the franchise. Is Hiram Garcia teasing more versions of the game, too? As he explains, it looks like every time one version of the game is beat, another version will appear. What will come next after this vintage video game full of avatars played by the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan comes to pass? Maybe the franchise will explore other areas! Hiram Garcia continued with ReelBlend with this:
And you know, we showed something that we always loved in Welcome to the Jungle. The Bazaar. Which was actually kind of like a gateway. When you get that mishmash of personalities, it's basically the idea of like, that's a hub for little tastes of other Jumanji worlds over there, that we've always really been excited about exploring.
Oooh! Exactly how big is the world of Jumanji? And how many different access points could there be for people to get stuck within it? Hiram Garcia talks about the Bazaar introduced in the 2017 film to bring together this idea of Jumanji being made up of multiple universes. It’s a really intriguing concept. Who knows – this could add enough life to the franchise for a Star Wars-type saga!
Jumanji: The Next Level changes things up by adding characters played by Danny DeVito and Danny Glover inside Dwayne Johnson and Kevin Hart’s avatars (yes, Lethal Weapon references happened on set!), along with Awkwafina joining the cast as well. Be sure to read our The Next Level review and check out the movie in theaters this weekend.