Sony’s Response to “Jumanji” Proves They Have No Idea What They’re Doing

Matthew Loffhagen
(Photo: Sony)

Sony Pictures’ “Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle” has somehow become the studio’s biggest ever domestic hit, overtaking the original “Spider-Man” from all the way back in 2002.

In response to this, some very smug Sony executives have been talking big about how they made so many smart decisions in the lead-up to the film’s release. To hear them talk, the success of “Jumanji” isn’t anything to do with the creative team involved, but is instead solely because some bigwigs in suits picked the right release date for the film.

This is pretty hilarious. Apparently, Sony Pictures Entertainment Group chairperson Tom Rothman had the genius idea to release “Jumanji” in competition with “Star Wars: The Last Jedi”, on the grounds that the film would be the perfect antidote to the beloved sci-fi series.

Apparently, nobody at Sony thought that there’s be any overlap between the audience for a family-friendly action comedy adventure movie based on a nostalgia franchise, and another family-friendly action comedy adventure movie based on a different nostalgia franchise.

Dwayne Johnson in Jumanji
Source: Sony

Said Rothman:

Jumanji looked like it was widely relatable with an appeal from 8 to 80… We felt early on from the dailies that the movie would be an all-audience event and at the end of the day that conviction really paid off.”

How utterly ridiculous.

If the move to push “Jumanji” from its original July release date back to December was based on a hunch that the film would do well at “Star Wars”, then Sony’s executive team are all idiots.

Nobody at the time could have known that “The Last Jedi” would prove to be so divisive, discouraging many fans from repeat viewings while the movie was in theaters. Whatever Sony’s higher ups might claim, “Jumanji” was moved because they wanted to bury it. No sane studio competes with “Star Wars”.

Claiming that this move was based on the expectation that “Jumanji” would succeed is like betting the family home on a roulette spin. Even if you win, you’re still an utter, incomprehensible moron for trying something so risky.

No, in reality, Sony wanted to banish “Jumanji”, and they’re now trying to spin it so that it seems like they made the right call with this film. As if they knew it’d be a big hit all along.

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle
Source: Sony

Nobody knew this. From the start, the movie looked like it was, at best, going to be a forgettable action comedy.

The fact that this clicked when so, so many similar nostalgia-inspired sequels fail has less to do with management, and more to do with a solid director, a great group of actors, and the fact that the movie doesn’t adhere very much to its “Jumanji” legacy.

It was a smart decision to make “Welcome to the Jungle” so very different from “Jumanji” that it’s not possible to compare the two. This decision was more made by the movie’s director and writer than by any studio executive.

Personally, I suspect that “Welcome to the Jungle” would have done well even if Sony hadn’t bolted the “Jumanji” branding onto its premise. This send-up of video game tropes is right for audiences at this moment in time, and that, more than any likeness to an old Robin Williams movie, is what’s made the film a success.

But, hey, if Sony’s executives want to take all the credit for their directors’ and writers’ successes, that’s fine.

So long as they also take the blame for all the garbage the studio has put out over the past few years. We all know where the decision to make “The Emoji Movie” and “Peter Rabbit” came from.