It’s Time For the Jumanji Franchise To Connect With Zathura Again

Awkwafina, Dwayne Johnson and Karen Gillan in Jumanji: Next Level
(Image credit: (Sony))

Rebooting a classic such as 1995’s Jumanji is no easy task, yet Sony found massive success when they enlisted Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan to star in an updated version, a board game-turned-video game movie adventure. Jake Kasdan’s Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was one of 2017’s biggest hits when it made over $900 million at the global box office – spawning the recent sequel Jumanji: The Next Level. If the second movie matches this success, it’s time for Zathura to return to the universe.

Remember Zathura: A Space Adventure? Back in 2005, and way before The Lion King remake and The Mandalorian, Jon Favreau directed the space adventure. It was ten years after the release of Jumanji (famously starring Robin Williams) and similarly about a magical board game that hurtles two siblings into an adventure in their living room. Now, the ‘90s Jumanji and ‘00s Zathura movies weren’t meant to be connected to one another, but they are technically in the same universe. Let’s talk through these origins and how Zathura could expand the current Jumanji franchise. It’s time for them to finally connect on the big screen!

Zathura movie poster , directed by Jon Favreau in 2005

(Image credit: (Sony))

Zathura’s Original Origins With Jumanji

Jumanji began as a picture book written by Chris Van Allsburg back in 1981. After it became a bestseller and a distinguished Caldecott Medal winner, the author made a direct sequel with Zathura. At the end of the Jumanji book, the kids throw away the game and get rid of it, but their next door neighbors find it. They are bored with the idea of a jungle adventure, but next to it is Zathura – it’s the same idea as Jumanji, but with implications that propel their home into actual space! Zathura has higher stakes than Jumanji as the kids come face-to-face with aliens, robots and a lost astronaut.

So Jumanji and Zathura exist in the same universe. To avoid comparisons to the beloved original, Jon Favreau never intended to make his Zathura a sequel to the 1995 Jumanji. The movie version has no direct reference to the dangerous jungle board game before it – but many fans consider the two movies to be interconnected. Now that the new Jumanji has found success among the public, it’s the perfect time to bring back Zathura. Continued jungle adventures can only propel the franchise so far and these connections could breathe life into Jake Kasdan’s franchise moving forward.

Kristen Stewart and Josh Hutcherson in Zathura

(Image credit: (Sony))

Jon Favreau’s Zathura Was Packed With Talent And Adventure

There are a lot of ways Zathura could reach the big screen, but let’s first go back to the roots of the movie. As far as the talent goes, it was ahead of its time. A young Josh Hutcherson, who would go on to star in The Hunger Games movies and the Future Man television series, had a leading role in the movie when he was 14. Kristen Stewart played his older sister, a few years before her time as Bella in the Twilight series and long before she became a Charlie’s Angel or an award-winning indie darling. The funny Dax Shepard of The Ranch and Bless This Mess played the astronaut who becomes stuck in the game – similar to what happens to Robin Williams’ character in Jumanji.

When Jumanji was recently rebooted, it didn’t have the luxury of the original cast – mainly because Robin Williams has since passed. But with Zathura, it could be super fun to implement these talents back after playing these characters back in the day. They are all in different places in their career and Zathura has had time to reach a larger audience than it initially did when it made a little over $64 million at the worldwide box office. Now, Zathura doesn’t have to have the likes of Josh Hutcherson, Kristen Stewart or Dax Shepard to return to the big screen. The world and the story itself is interesting enough to be well worth another look.

Jumanji: The Next Level, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, Dwayne Johnson, Karen Gillan

(Image credit: (Sony))

How Zathura Could Expand The Current Jumanji Franchise

Zathura could fit right into the already established Jumanji universe established with the recent films. As the franchise’s producer Hiram Garcia recently noted on CinemaBlend’s podcast ReelBlend, there are “different versions” of the game and “multiple universes.” He told us about how The Bazaar region in the film was added as part of the film to be a central hub for a larger universe of the game our core characters may not be aware of. Could it go to the reaches of space? Why not? There’s definitely more than a jungle out there as we’ve seen in The Next Level.

If there’s a video game that serves as a portal to Jumanji, it’s not outside the franchises imagination for there to be another one collecting dust that transports the characters to space. It would be a ton of fun to see the already established avatars have versions of themselves set up for a space adventure. Or maybe new avatars could be used instead Either way, it would bring some freshness to the franchise once there’s nothing left to explore on Jumanji!

Dax Shepard and Josh Hutcherson in Zathura

(Image credit: (Sony))

Jack Black Is Already On Board With It

If you like this idea, you’ll be happy to hear one of Jumanji: The Next Level’s stars is already in for “Jumanji in Space.” At the premiere for the recent film, he talked about how he sees the new movie as the fourth Jumanji movie – bringing Zathura into canon. Check out his pitch for the next movie, per Variety:

I say we go back to space and find out who is responsible for the technology behind the game. This is very advanced, it’s got to be aliens, right? If it’s not aliens, it’s a super genius like Elon Musk, something like this. Someone’s behind it.

There’s definitely various unanswered questions when it comes to Jumanji, and an adventure to space to find out the origins could be the perfect way for the franchise to continue and retain fan interest. As it is, it looks like Jumanji could be venturing back into the real world like the 1995 version did, per the end of the latest movie. After the new franchise has remained fresh, it should not go backwards into remake territory! Introducing Zathura would be a great way to ensure Jumanji keeps building into something bigger.

What do you think? Would you like to see Zathura be added to the Jumanji universe? Sound off in the poll and comments below!

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Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.