Jumanji is a 1995 American fantasy adventure film directed by Joe Johnston. Its a loose adaptation of the 1981 childrens book of the same name by Chris Van Allsburg and the first installment of the Jumanji franchise. The film was written by Van Allsburg, Greg Taylor, Jonathan Hensleigh, and Jim Strain and stars Robin Williams, Kirsten Dunst, David Alan Grier, Bonnie Hunt, Bradley Pierce, Jonathan Hyde, and Bebe Neuwirth.
The story centers on a supernatural board game that releases jungle-based hazards upon its players with every turn they take. As a boy in 1969, Alan Parrish became trapped inside the game itself while playing with his best friend Sarah Whittle. Twenty-six years later, siblings Judy and Peter Shepherd find the game, begin playing and then unwittingly release the now-adult Alan. After tracking down Sarah, the quartet resolves to finish the game in order to reverse all of the destruction it has caused and return back to normal.
The film was released on December 15, 1995, to mixed reviews, but was a box office success, grossing $263 million worldwide on a budget of approximately $65 million. It was the 10th highest-grossing film of 1995.
The film spawned an animated television series, which aired from 1996 to 1999, and was followed by a related film, Zathura: A Space Adventure 2005, and two direct sequels, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle 2017 and Jumanji: The Next Level 2019, with Columbia Pictures taking over distribution.
In 1869, near Brantford, New Hampshire, two boys bury a chest, which produces the sound of tribal drumbeats. A century later, Alan Parrish escapes a group of bullies and retreats to a shoe factory owned by his father, Sam. He finds Carl Bentley, an employee and friend of his, who reveals a new shoe prototype he invented. Alan misplaces the shoe and damages a machine, but Carl takes responsibility and loses his job. The bullies attack Alan and steal his bike when he leaves the factory, but he soon follows the buried chests drumbeats to a construction site. He finds the chest and opens it to find a board game called Jumanji, which he takes. At home, he gets into an argument with his father regarding attending a boarding school. Alan plans to run away but is stopped just before leaving by his friend Sarah Whittle, who is returning his bike. Alan then shows her Jumanji and invites her to play. Although she isnt interested, Sarah inadvertently starts the game by carelessly tossing the dice on the board. With each roll of the dice, the game pieces move on their own and a cryptic message describing the rolls outcome appears in the crystal ball at the center of the board. Sarahs roll causes an eerie squeaking sound to be heard in the fireplace. Alan then unintentionally rolls the dice after being startled by the chiming clock. A message tells him to wait in a jungle until someone rolls a five or eight, and then he gets sucked into the game. Immediately afterward, a swarm of bats appears out of the fireplace and chases Sarah out of the mansion.
Twenty-six years later, Judy and Peter Shepherd move into the vacant Parrish mansion with their aunt Nora, after their parents died in an accident on a ski trip. After two days in their new house, Judy and Peter find Jumanji in the attic and begin playing it. Their rolls summon giant mosquitoes and a troop of monkeys. The games instructions state that everything will be restored when the game ends, so they continue playing. Peters next roll, a five, releases a lion and a grown-up Alan, who locks the lion in a bedroom. As Alan makes his way out, he meets Carl, who is now working as a police officer. Alan, Judy, and Peter go to the now-abandoned shoe factory where a homeless man tells Alan that Sam was devastated by Alans disappearance and abandoned the business to search for him. Eventually, the factory closed, which caused Brantfords economic decline, Alan also finds out that both his parents had died a few years before his return. Realizing that they need Sarah to finish the game, they track her down. Sarah is now traumatized by her past, but they persuade her to join them.
Sarahs next move releases dangerous fast-growing plants that almost swallow Peter. Alans next move releases a big-game hunter named Van Pelt whom Alan first met in the jungle. The next roll summons a stampede of various animals and a pelican steals the game. Peter retrieves it, but Alan is arrested by Carl. Shortly after, Peter begins to slowly transform into a monkey after attempting to cheat. Back in town, the stampede wreaks havoc, and Van Pelt steals the game. Peter, Sarah, and Judy track Van Pelt to a department store, where they set booby traps to subdue him and retrieve the game, while Alan, after revealing his identity to Carl, is set free. When the four return to the mansion, it is now completely overrun by jungle wildlife. They release one calamity after another until Van Pelt arrives and corners Alan. As Van Pelt prepares to shoot him, Alan drops the dice and lands the winning roll, which causes everything that happened as a result of the game to be reversed.
Alan and Sarah return to 1969 as children but have full memories of the events that took place. Alan reconciles with his father, who tells him that he doesnt have to attend boarding school and finally accepts him for who he is. Before leaving, Sam is informed by Alan that he was responsible for the shoe that damaged the factorys machine. After coming to the realization that Judy and Peter havent been born yet, Alan and Sarah throw Jumanji into a river, then Sarah gives Alan a kiss saying she would do it before she "feels too much like a kid".
In an alternate 1995, Alan and Sarah are married, successfully running the Parrish family business after Sam had retired, and expecting their first child. Alan and Sarah meet Judy, Peter, and their parents for the first time during a Christmas party. Alan offers their father a job and convinces them to cancel their upcoming ski trip, averting their deaths. A year later, in 1996, two young French-speaking girls hear drumbeats while walking on a beach. Jumanji is seen lying partially buried in the sand.
- Robin Williams as Alan Parrish, a man trapped in Jumanji for 26 years
- Adam Hann-Byrd as Young Alan
- Kirsten Dunst as Judith "Judy" Shepherd, Peters older sister
- Laura Bell Bundy as Young Sarah
- David Alan Grier as Carl Bentley, an employee at Sams shoe factory and Alans friend
- Bonnie Hunt as Sarah Whittle, Alans friend who is traumatized by Jumanji and Alans disappearance
- Hyde also portrays Samuel Parrish, Alans father
- Jonathan Hyde as Van Pelt, a big-game hunter from Jumanji
- Annabel Kershaw as Martha Shepherd, Judy and Peters mother
- Bradley Pierce as Peter Shepherd, Judys younger brother
- Patricia Clarkson as Carol-Anne Parrish, Alans mother
- Gary Joseph Thorup as Billy Jessup, the bullies cowardly leader
- Frank Welker provides the special vocal effects
- Malcolm Stewart as James Shepherd, Judy and Peters father
- Bebe Neuwirth as Nora Shepherd, Judy and Peters aunt; Neuwirth briefly reprised her character in Jumanji: The Next Level
- James Handy as The Exterminator
While Peter Guber was visiting Boston, he invited author Chris Van Allsburg, who lives in Providence, Rhode Island, to option his book. Van Allsburg wrote one of the screenplays drafts, which he described as "sort of trying to imbue the story with a quality of mystery and surrealism". Van Allsburg added that the studio nearly abandoned the project if not for his film treatment, which earned him a story credit given it added story material that was not from the book.
TriStar Pictures agreed to finance the film on the condition that Robin Williams plays the starring role. However, Williams turned down the role based on the first script he was given. Only after director Joe Johnston and screenwriters Jonathan Hensleigh, Greg Taylor and Jim Strain undertook extensive rewrites did Williams accept. Johnston had reservations over casting Williams because of the actors reputation for improvisation, fearing that he wouldnt adhere to the script. However, Williams understood that it was "a tightly structured story" and filmed the scenes as outlined in the script, often filming duplicate scenes afterwards where he was allowed to improvise with Bonnie Hunt.
Shooting took place in various New England locales, mainly Keene, New Hampshire, which represented the storys fictional town of Brantford, New Hampshire, and North Berwick, Maine, where the Olde Woolen Mill stood in for the Parrish Shoe Factory. Additional filming took place in Vancouver, British Columbia, where a mock-up of the Parrish house was built.
Special effects were a combination of more traditional techniques like puppetry and animatronics provided by Amalgamated Dynamics with state-of-the-art digital effects overseen by Industrial Light & Magic. ILM developed two new software programs specifically for Jumanji, one called iSculpt, which allowed the illustrators to create realistic facial expressions on the computer-generated animals in the film, and another that for the first time created realistic digital hair, used on the monkeys and the lion. Actor Bradley Pierce Peter underwent three and a half hours of prosthetic makeup application daily for a period of two and a half months to film the scenes where he transformed into a monkey.
The film was dedicated to visual effects supervisor Stephen L. Price, who died before the films release.
The filmings began in October 1994 and wrapped up in January 1995.
Jumanji was released in theaters on December 15, 1995.
Jumanji was first released on VHS on May 14, 1996, and re-released as a Collectors Series DVD on January 25, 2000. In the UK, the film was also released on DVD as a special edition bundled with the Jumanji board game. The film was first released on Blu-ray on June 28, 2011, and re-released as a 20th Anniversary Edition on September 14, 2015. A restored version was released on December 5, 2017 on Blu-ray and 4K UHD to coincide with the premiere of the sequel, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
Commercial songs from film, but not on soundtrack
- Orchestra and Chorus conducted by Ian Marin
- Written by Gioacchino Rossini
- "Una Voce Poco Fa"
- Performed by Agnes Baltsa and the Vienna Symphony
- Written by Cole Porter
- "Night & Day"
- Conducted by Neville Marriner
- Composed by Antonin Dvoeak
- Performed by Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields
- "Serenade in D, Op. 44"
- Performed by Jethro Tull
- Written by Ian Anderson
- "Locomotive Breath"
- Written by Sherwood Schwartz & George Wyle
- "The Ballad of Gilligans Isle" Theme from Gilligans Island
- "Dark Continent Native Terror"
- Main theme of The Soundtrack
- Composed by James Horner
Jumanji did well at the box office, earning $100.5 million in the United States and Canada and an additional $162.3 million overseas, bringing the worldwide gross to $262.8 million.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 54% from 37 reviews, with an average rating of 5.68/10. The sites consensus reads: "A feast for the eyes with a somewhat malnourished plot, Jumanji is an underachieving adventure that still offers a decent amount of fun for the whole family". On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 39 out of 100, based on 18 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.
Roger Ebert rated the film 1.5 of 4 stars, criticizing its reliance on special effects to convey its story which he felt was lacking. He questioned the decision to rate the film PG rather than PG-13 as he felt that young children would be traumatized by much of the films imagery, which he said made the film "about as appropriate for smaller children as, say, Jaws ". He specifically cited Peters monkey transformation as making him "look like a Wolf Man with a hairy snout and wicked jaws" that were likely to scare children. Regarding the board games unleashing one hazard after another at its main characters, Ebert concluded: "Its like those video games where you achieve one level after another by killing and not getting killed. The ultimate level for young viewers will be being able to sit all the way through the movie".
Van Allsburg approved of the film despite the changes from the book and its not being as "idiosyncratic and peculiar", declaring that "the film is faithful in reproducing the chaos level that comes with having a jungle animal in the house. Its a good movie".
7.1. Sequels Zathura: A Space Adventure
Zathura: A Space Adventure, the spiritual successor that was marketed as being from the same continuity of the Jumanji franchise was released as a feature film in 2005. Unlike the book Zathura, the film makes no references to the previous film outside of the marketing statement. Both films are based on books written by Chris Van Allsburg. With the films being based on books that take place in the same series, the films vaguely make reference to that concept from the novels by having a similar concept and themes.
7.2. Sequels Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle
A new film, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is a sequel to the 1995 film. The film contains a whole new set of characters without original cast from the original film returning. The film sees four teenagers in 2016 who are stuck in Jumanji video game, where as game avatars must finish the game and save Jumanji. Plans for a sequel started in the late 1990s by Sony Pictures Entertainment and the original director Ken Ralston, a visual effects supervisor of the original film, was hired to direct a film, with Christmas 2000 release date, but Ralston stepped down and the sequel was cancelled. The development of the sequel again emerged in 2010s upon which then-president of Columbia Pictures Doug Belgrad teased a possibility of the project in July 2012; the project was confirmed three years later in August, with a new director Jake Kasdan directing it and starring Dwayne Johnson. The film was released in December 20, 2017 as a tribute to Robin Williamss lead and his character is mentioned within the film.
7.3. Sequels Jumanji: The Next Level
A fourth film in the franchise titled, Jumanji: The Next Level, a sequel to Welcome to the Jungle was released on December 13, 2019.
8.1. In other media Television
An animated television series was produced between 1996 and 1999. While it borrowed heavily from the film – incorporating various characters, locations and props, and modelling Alans house and the board game on the way they appeared in the film – the series retcons rather than using the films storyline. In the series version, on each turn, the players are given a "game clue" and then sucked into the jungle until they solve it. Alan is stuck in Jumanji because he has not seen his clue. Judy and Peter try to help him leave the game, providing their motivation during the series, while Sarah is absent from the series.
8.2. In other media Games
Jumanji: The Game is a board game originally published by Milton Bradley Company in the US in 1995. An updated version with new colorized artwork was released in 2017 by Cardinal Games. Some of the riddle message texts on the danger cards were changed, especially the unique danger messages. Jumanji: A Jungle Adventure Game Pack is a North American-exclusive game for Microsoft Windows that was released on October 9, 1996. It was developed by Studio Interactive and published by Philips Interactive Media. It contains five different action-arcade-based mini-games that are based on popular scenes from the film. Clips of cutscenes from the film can also be viewed. There are five different mini-games that the player can choose from, with different rules and objectives. Animals from the film provide instructions to the player for each mini-game, except for the Treasure Maze mini-game, where the Jumanji board game spirit provides instructions instead. Notably, players cannot play the actual Jumanji board game from the film. All of these mini-games contain rounds or levels and when players reach a goal, that level is cleared and the player advances to a more difficult version of the mini-game. The player must try to score as many points as possible, and set the best high score.
A party video game based on the film was released in Europe for the PlayStation 2 in 2006.
In 2007, Fuji Shoji released a Pachinko game, using clips from the film and also 3D rendered CGI anime character designs for the game as part of the screen interaction.
In 2005, Jumanji was listed 48 in Channel 4s documentary 100 Greatest Family Films, just behind Dumbo, Spider-Man and Jason & the Argonauts.
In 2011, Robin Williams recorded an audiobook for Van Allsburgs books 30th edition to coincide its release.
In 2014, a game board prop from the film was auctioned on eBay and sold for US$60.800.