Will Sony Ruin “Jumanji 3” by Rushing its Production?

Matthew Loffhagen
Sony Pictures
(Photo: Sony Pictures)

I’m getting a sinking feeling about “Jumanji 3”. Sony Pictures, eternally the movie studio that’s built on a backbone of terrible (if occasionally very lucky) decisions, could well be setting this franchise up to fail.

Pretty much everyone was surprised by just how much fun “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” turned out to be. It seemed like a shallow attempt to milk a classic Robin Williams movie fandom for juicy pocket change. It ended up being a solid, enjoyable action comedy.

Sure, it bears very little resemblance to the original “Jumanji”, but that’s kind of why it works. “Welcome to the Jungle” isn’t trying to be “Jumanji” 2.0. Instead, it creates a wholly original experience built on a flimsy connection to the original film.

Robin Williams in Jumanji
Source: TriStar Pictures

This is why I’m apprehensive about news that “Jumanji 3” will start filming in just six months. It’s not been very long since “Welcome to the Jungle” arrived in theaters. But already, it seems, Sony is fast-tracking a sequel to the sequel.

Admittedly, movies get made quicker and quicker these days, but this doesn’t always lead to a solid experience. Pre-production is important to making a film come together. It’s necessary to making sure that both the plot and the action setpieces actually work.

Busy Busy

My fears are seemingly confirmed by a recent red carpet interview with Jake Kasdan, who’ll be directing “Jumanji 3”.

You can really see the fear in his eyes as he discusses just how tight this pre-production schedule is going to be.

Kasdan seems genuinely terrified by the idea of beginning filming in January. He notes that he’s probably not going to have time to think about anything else for the next few months.

But, hey. Sony’s got to have a big-earning movie sequel. Giving this thing time to breathe is of secondary importance compared with rushing out another money spinner.

“Welcome to the Jungle” is such a different beast than the original “Jumanji”, that it feels like this third movie in the series will almost be a proof of longevity in and of itself.

Jumanji Welcome to the Jungle
Source: Sony Pictures

Unless “Jumanji 3” can do something that yet again feels fresh and original, it could very easily end up being the shallow, vapid, nostalgic sequel that people were expecting of “Jumanji 2”.

This would be disastrous for the future of the franchise. If “Jumanji 3” fails to find its legs and ends up simply retreading ground from “Welcome to the Jungle”, then a promising series will be cut short as audiences turn away from stale, repetitive films.

Bad News

Considering the production decisions that Sony Pictures tends to make, I don’t think many people at the studio are interested in long-term successful franchises. They’re more interested in a quick turnaround on any idea that might vaguely bring in a big profit.

This lack of foresight could well end up dooming “Jumanji 3”, unless its creative team are given the freedom and resources that will be necessary to make up for the ambitious production schedule.

Here’s hoping this all goes well. After “Jumanji” and “Welcome to the Jungle”, I really don’t want to see a bad third film in the series.