When a sequel to the 1995 hit comedy Jumanji was first announced in August, 2015, fans were unimpressed. Many believed that the timing of the announcement was in poor taste, coming close to the first anniversary of the death of Robin Williams, the much loved star of the original film. Though people began to warm to the idea somewhat, they became sceptical once more when it was revealed that the new Jumanji would be an old video game, rather than the board game seen in the first film.
It seems all the worries were unfounded. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle is a hit, dethroning Star Wars: The Last Jedi from its coveted top spot at the weekend box office. This is no easy feat, considering that Star Wars films have dominated theatres in the Christmas/New Year holiday period for three years running. Welcome To The Jungle is also scoring well with critics, who have called the film "a pleasant surprise." The film's success has inevitably resulted in speculation over another possible sequel. If this did occur, there are a few ways a potential sequel to Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle could go.
1. The Origins Of 'Jumanji'
Once it became apparent that Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle was a hit, the film's stars began being asked where they would like to see the series go, if a sequel were to be made. Two of the movie's main cast members—Jack Black and Dwayne Johnson—settled on a similar idea: Where did Jumanji come from?
"I think it would be cool to see the mind behind the game. It’d be cool to like explore – because there’s gotta be like some alien technology..."—Jack Black.
While there might not necessarily be aliens involved, Black does have a point. Jumanji had to have come from somewhere. In the original picture book by Chris Van Allsburg, it is said that Jumanji was a game designed specifically for children suffering from boredom. But why, and by who? These a questions that a sequel could easily dive into.
2. The 'Jumanji' avatars, and its villain, end up in the real world.
As fans would remember, the original Jumanji features characters and creatures from within the game entering the real world, rather than real world characters entering the game—aside from Robin Williams as the unlucky Alan Parrish, a boy who becomes trapped within the jungle the board game houses. Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle reverses this concept. Teenagers Spencer, (Alex Wolff), Fridge (Ser'Darius Blain), Martha (Morgan Turner), and Bethany (Madison Iseman), become trapped in Jumanji's jungle world after finding the old video game during detention. Unlike Alan Parrish, who entered Jumanji as himself, the teens take the form of avatars chosen at the beginning of the game: Smolder Bravestone (Dwayne Johnson), Mouse Finbar (Kevin Hart), Ruby Roundhouse (Karen Gillan), and Shelly Oberon (Jack Black). Like any video game, each avatar has a set of unique strengths and weaknesses.
A sequel could flip things around once more, possibly bringing the Jumanji avatars, animals, and villains into the real world once more. While this concept seems similar, it need not be a rehash of the original film. Where Alan Parrish in the original Jumanji, and now the teens in Welcome To The Jungle, were eager to end the game and escape the world of Jumanji, Smolder Bravestone and the avatars would be desperate to get back in. The film's villain, Russel Van Pelt, would probably be happy to stay out, his power over creatures now possibly extending to the animals of the real world. The teens who entered Jumanji in Welcome To The Jungle would have to team up with their former avatars to get everyone back into the game before too much damage is done.
An advantage of this scenario is that it would give the film makers a troupe of brand new characters to work with. We did not get to know the characters behind each avatar in Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle, because they had been overwritten with the personalities of the children entering the game. This would keep a sequel new and interesting for the actors as well, as they are essentially playing an entirely different character to the first film.
3. Revisit 'Zathura'
In 2005, ten years after the original Jumanji was released, another film touted as coming "From the world of Jumanji" hit theatres. This film was Zathura: A Space Adventure, starring Kristen Stewart, Josh Hutcherson, and Jonah Bobo as the Budwing siblings, Lisa, Walter, and Danny. When bickering brothers Walter and Danny begin playing Zathura, an old board-game found by Danny, the events on the game cards come alive, sending their house into outer space. A few turns in, the game freezes their sister, Lisa, in a cryonic sleep. To return home and unfreeze Lisa, the boys must survive long enough to complete the game. They are eventually joined by a mysterious astronaut who helps guide them through Zathura. While Zathura: A Space Adventure proved a disappointment at the box office, it earned strong reviews from critics.
Zathura, based on a picture book by Chris Van Allsburg, who also wrote the book on which the first Jumanji film was based, is often referred to as a spiritual sequel to Jumanji. Revisiting Zathura's world could be work as a sequel idea for Welcome To The Jungle. One way this could go is to introduce a whole new cast of characters for a stand alone sequel. Another is to have the characters of Welcome To The Jungle discover Zathura (most likely now a video game), and, having beaten Jumanji, take on the new challenge. A third option would be to use some of the characters from Zathura: A Space Adventure in a new Jumanji film. This would officially tie the worlds of Jumanji and Zathura together for the first time on screen, creating a fledgling cinematic universe of sorts from the living games.
Going this direction, along with exploring Jumanji's origins, would provide a lot of material to explore in a sequel. In fact, it would greatly enhance the series franchise potential. We may have to prepare ourselves for a whole lot more Jumanji.