The new Jumanji movie should not have been called that. It would have been fine as a standalone film, even without the name drop. I feel it has enough to stand on, and enough of an edge to merit its own name. It isn’t really a sequel, which is another thing. If it would have been a true sequel, then there would have been a lot more references to the first, and there aren’t. It really is a different type of movie, and I have sneaking suspicion that it was the studios who wanted the name be Jumanji.
The children’s book Jumanji, written by Chris Van Allsburg, was published in 1981. 14 years later, the movie came out, and 22 years after that came out the sequel film, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. In reality, the sequel book was titled Zathura, and it was published in 2002. It had little to do with the original, but the themes were similar. Van Allsburg waited quite a while between the two books, and I have often wondered why that was. Either way, so far the count is two books, and three movies. A film version of Zathura was released in 2005, but it did not do nearly as well as the other two, and was considered quite a flop. Another movie is yet to be made official, and presumably is still waiting for execs to greenlight it.
Is it all about the money? Probably, as far as the investors are concerned. “Who cares what it’s about, as long as the kids go!” sang Roger Waters in Pink Floyd’s The Final Cut (1983), and he is absolutely right. Sometimes, I feel as if it is only in the indie scene that quality films can be made. Or Europe, for that matter. There is something about the big budget productions and Hollywood movies which has the potential to suck the soul out of anything. Filmmaking is one hell of a business. It is still show business in essence, and it is still one of the most cutthroat industries there are. Certainly when there is so much money involved.
Look at Kevin Smith. He maxed out his credit cards, dipped into his college savings, sold off a large part of his comic book collection, and made Clerks for under $28,000. What a ballsy decision by Smith, eh? But if you are going to make it in this, or probably any, business, you need to be ready to make some sacrifices.