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A Close Look at the Jumanji Franchise

The Beginning of Jumanji

Unbeknownst to most, Jumanji derived from a children’s picture book illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg in 1981. 

However, Jumanji is better known for its arrival on the big screen in 1995 and starring actor Robin Williams and actress Kirsten Dunst. 

Jumanji (Film released in 1995)

The film is centered around a dark magical jungle-themed board game that lures two innocent kids to unpack the game and roll the dice. 

However, once they do, mayhem is unleashed. There are rhino stampedes, humongous hungry spiders, and cheeky, albeit scary monkeys hijacking cop cars. Wreaking havoc on homes, supermarkets, streets, and more. 

However, players must continue navigating the board games’ dangerous adventures to make it to the end of the game in hopes of reversing the destruction.

While the film received a mixed reception from critics, it was a hit at the box office, amassing $263 million globally. 

The film’s success initiated the successful launch of the Jumanji franchise, which has developed a few follow-up movies, novels, and games.

For instance, NetEnt created a slot game after Jumanji for adults wanting to brave the calamities experienced by Alan’s main character in the Jungle. In the form of five reels combined with elements derived from the Jumanji board game. The hit game can be found among these online slots, with highlights including wilds, sticky vines, monkey mayhem features, and more. 

Other additions to the franchise include the animated series of Jumanji, briefly touched on below.

Jumanji (TV Series released in 1996) 

Following the film’s popularity, Jumanji, a US animated tv series, emerged courtesy of Adelaide Productions. 

The show ran for three seasons between 1996 and 1999 and featured the same plot and characters from the film in cartoon form, with a few minor alterations. 

For example, the cop Carl Bentley’s age and relationship with the protagonist Alan changed.

The show is now available to watch on iTunes, Hulu, and Youtube. 

Over five years later, another movie was launched as part of the franchise, which possessed an action-packed adventure brought on by a mysterious board game, much like its predecessor – Jumanji.

Zathura: An Outer Space Adventure (Released in 2005)

Author and illustrator Chris Van Allsburg played a pivotal role in inspiring and spurring on the franchise by illustrating a sequel to Jumanji in 2002 called Zathura.

The new storyline carries a sci-fi theme instead. It features three siblings navigating through the game Zathura to tackle a host of intergalactic disasters and challenges, such as meteor shows, cryogenic sleep chambers, and lethal robots. 

The outer space story emerged on the big screen in 2005 as Zathura: A Space Adventure. Here’s a glimpse of what the movie entailed. 

Over a decade later, a new angle for a Jumanji film emerged, which sparked the beginning of Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle (2017)

Directed by Jake Kasdan and featuring stars such as Dwayne Johnson, Kevin Hart, and Jack Black. Welcome to the Jungle gives the Jumanji franchise a new lease of life.

The storyline follows four teens who find Jumanji, reformed from its original model as a board game, into a video game. After one of the teens starts the game, they are sucked into the jungle and trapped inside the game as adult characters. 

To escape, the players need to complete a mission with another player who has been stuck in the game since the mid-90s.

The film was a great success, with positive reviews and a gross income of $962 million. A sequel to the movie was released in 2019, called Jumanji: The Next Level.

Jumanji: The Next Level (Released in 2019)

While the teens from Welcome to the Jungle had experienced an ordeal that you would assume would’ve brought them closer together. The 2019 film depicts the group in their college years having grown apart. 

But an unexpected event brings them all together, thanks to the character Spencer.

Spencer Gilpin, a freshman, and long-time nerd. Finds himself missing the avatar he played in the video game (Smolder Bravestone) and the confidence that came with it. 

Plus, he thinks the gaming world he experienced was easier to handle than the ups and downs of real life. As such, he sets out to fix the once destroyed Jumanji video game in hopes of jumping back into the game and becoming the heroic character he once was.

Although Spencer’s plan didn’t turn out as he’d hoped. Rather than becoming the strong leader Smolder Bravestone in his original adventure through the Jaguar Shrine. He became Ming Fleetfoot, a female cat burglar and expert pickpocket in a new level called Mountain Fortress Adventure.

The disappearance of Spencer sparks concern among a few of his old pals with whom he initially escaped the video game.

Once they figure out, Spencer fixed and played the Jumanji video game. They reluctantly re-enter the game in a quest to bring him back into the real world.

As the film title suggests, this video game is more complicated to conquer than the last. The players need to journey through challenging terrain and battle the elements and corresponding predators across the blistering hot desert and freezing mountain tops. 

In a nutshell, the film demonstrated a heartwarming message about friendship and allowed viewers to see the characters from a new and exciting angle. 

While not as successful as its predecessor, the fourth movie addition to the franchise still earned a whopping $796 million globally. 

What’s in Store for Jumanji Fans in the Future?

The Jumanji franchise has revealed on more occasions than one it can create a mass following and wealth. By providing feel-good, family-friendly films centered around mythical themed board games and friends overcoming terrifying challenges together. 

A few hints here and there have led fans and critics to believe that there was another potential sequel in the making at the end of Jumanji: The Next Level. And those hunches were correct.

Sony has confirmed the film Jumanji 4 is being constructed. And while it should’ve been released this December, unexpected setbacks have caused delays in filmings. As such, the movie should be ready to unveil in December 2022.

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Staff Writer
Author: Staff Writer