The good news is that Jumanji: The Next Level is another big hit for Sony and Dwayne Johnson, and it’s about as well-liked by audiences too. The bad news is that there may not be a third Jumanji movie starring this new crew – and the reason for that is Dwayne Johnson.
Being debatably one of the few genuine movie stars left, that means Johnson is very busy making movies, most of which succeed.
The downside of that is that Johnson’s increasingly crowded schedule may mean he might not be able to do a third Jumanji, or at least the next one won’t come out in 2021.
Nobody asked for a ‘Jumanji’ reboot, but audiences loved it anyway
Back in 1994, Jumanji, starring Robin Williams and Kirsten Dunst and based on Chris Van Allsburg’s popular book about a board game causing havoc, became a solid if not spectacular hit, grossing $100 million at the time, or just over $200 million in today’s money. Affection for it grew, particularly after William’s tragic passing in 2014.
So when Sony announced it was going to reboot the movie, a lot of people groaned. Hollywood has gorged itself on remakes and reboots and sequels, and this one was going to be kind of all three. People responded with multiple variations of “No” and “Why?”
Then they saw the movie and said, “Oh, so that’s why.”
Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, also starring Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan, turned out to be an even bigger success than even Sony had expected, ultimately grossing $404 million here and almost $1 billion worldwide. And that was against a Star Wars film, The Last Jedi. Now, history seems to be repeating itself with Jumanji: The Next Level, which is holding its own against The Rise of Skywalker, with the Sony movie grossing about $220 million so far.
The reboot wasn’t just a retread
What made Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle such a pleasant surprise was that it wasn’t just the 1994 movie with improved visual effects. It was a very clever riff on video game tropes, with this movie being better than most movies based on actual video games.
The setup gave the actors a chance to exercise their comedic chops, with all four principals doing strong work. Jack Black earned particular praise for playing a teen girl trapped in a portly man’s body, and Karen Gillan got to prove her mettle as a comedienne and an action star.
Jumanji: The Next Level could have easily fallen into the sequel trap, but the new movie’s excuse for getting the gang back together actually worse. The gang is off to college, but the kid who turned into the Rock was feeling out of sorts because he missed being The Rock. Who wouldn’t?
The movie changed the characters in unexpected ways, and the addition of Danny DeVito and Danny Glover gave the third Jumanji emotional heft.
So why wouldn’t Johnson do a third ‘Jumanji?’
Johnson hasn’t said that he will or won’t return, and a sequel hasn’t officially been greenlit yet. The problem is, if Sony were to follow the pattern they did with Welcome to the Jungle and the Next Level, that means Jumanji 4 would come out in December of 2021.
The only problem is, as Screen Rant points out, Johnson already has a movie booked for that date: the DC film Black Adam. So if Sony were to make Jumanji 4, they’d have to do one of two things: move the date, or do it without Johnson. With all due respect to Hart, Black and Gillan, a Johnson-less Jumanji probably wouldn’t sell as well.
It’s very likely that Sony will simply delay the movie until Johnson is available. The end credits sequence of Jumanji: The Next Level did leave the door open to a sequel – we’ll just have to see when Johnson can walk through it.