Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Try, Try Again?: Disney Live-Action Moves Forward with 'Jungle Cruise'?

For about a decade, Disney has been trying to get a film based on the Jungle Cruise attraction made. At one point it was thought to be a 2007 release, but it never materialized. At another time, Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were eyed for the cast...

Now it seems to be back on track, which is super-surprising considering that Disney live-action has been extremely risk-averse in the recent years, green lighting several live-action remakes of Disney animated classics (not new takes on the stories they are based on, remakes of the Disney versions) and letting fresh and exciting projects - such as The Stuff of Legend, Terra Incognita, Matched, and TRON 3 - wither away. Over budgeted films like Prince of PersiaJohn Carter of Mars, The Lone Ranger, and Tomorrowland all being box office bombs only exacerbated the problem.

Few live-action pics on their schedule aren't reimaginings, like next year's The Finest Hours (true story-based action drama) and the Steven Spielberg-directed Roald Dahl adaptation The BFG. Some sports films come and go, too, though Disney has been making those non-stop for years. It's unknown what's going on with projects like Guillermo del Toro's Haunted Mansion and recently announced, post-Tomorrowland films like The Water Man.

The new Jungle Cruise will star The Rock, who is already hard at work on Moana as the voice of Maui and will most likely land many more Disney pics. (He was already in a few beforehand.) John Requa and Glenn Ficarra (directors of Crazy, Stupid, Love. and Focus) will write, long-time producer John Davis and John Fox, both of Davis Entertainment, are attached to produce.

Now it may have all of those people attached, but there is a chance it won't happen. I'm always reminded of George Miller's ill-fated Justice League movie, which had several pieces in place and ultimately did not happen. Knowing Disney, I won't assume for a moment that they'll really move forward with this film. They have this weird habit of announcing all of these riskier, more offbeat projects, or anything that isn't extremely safe, and then not going through with them. Disney's current logic is "if it doesn't do well the first time, regardless of marketing problems, just stop making that kind of thing altogether." Why make movies that won't make $500 million worldwide when you can make more movies that will make $500 million at the worldwide box office?

It happened to traditional animation, it happened to Muppets movies, now it has happened to any live-action movie that isn't a remake of a Disney classic or a sports drama. Or isn't any entry in a guaranteed franchise like PiratesThe Finest Hours and The BFG are happening because it was probably too late to shutter them after Tomorrowland flopped at the box office. It wasn't too late to derez TRON 3, though.

So here's hoping it goes forward, it turns out to be a pretty fun movie, and gives Disney the incentive to actually bring a little diversity to their live-action slate. Yes, movies based on their theme park rides now add "diversity" to their stale slate. Imagine that!


  1. theres also The Queen of Katwe, but they need to start making more original blockbusters again without over-budgeting their films.

  2. I obviously think the folks at Disney are sneaking in some traditional hand-drawn animation into Moana as a test to see if people are willing to see any kind of 2D animation on the big screen again.

  3. Wonder if it'll be PG or PG-13 (like Pirates)