Back in 1995 TriStar Pictures released a special-effects extravaganza live-action adventure film, based on a children’s book about a mysteriously magical board game and starring the late Robin Williams. “Jumanji” became a box office smash hit despite lukewarm critics, spawning a 1996 animated series, a spiritual sequel based on a connected book, and a distant sequel 22 years in the making, “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” in 2017 starring Dwayne Johnson. This one got both box office wins and better reviews, so that another direct sequel has begun development with the main cast reprising. Now they have a new cast-mate.
The Hollywood Reporter tells us that the latest casting addition to the planned sequel to “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” by Sony-Columbia Pictures will be rapper and actress Awkwafina, who many may have last seen in “Crazy Rich Asians” last year. A follow-up to the second “Jumanji” film has been out in gear with the four main cast from “Welcome to the Jungle” and returning director Jake Kasdan. No further comment was given regarding the potential plot for the new sequel, or Awkwafina’s character in it, other than her role will be a new significant part of the “Jumanji” mythos.
“Jumanji” was based on the same-titled book written by Chris Van Allsburg, about an African wilderness-themed board game that summoned frightening obstacles and wild animals with every roll of the dice, until one of the players reaches the goal which would in turn undo all these consequences.
“Welcome to the Jungle” saw the premise take a technological step forward when the original board game transforms into a videogame cartridge, and where before the players conjured things from the game’s jungle setting, the sequel’s characters journey to the jungle world itself (schoolchildren assuming grownup forms played by Johnson and his fellows) to have their epic adventure.
Jake Kasdan is also on scriptwriting duty alongside Scott Rosenberg and Jeff Pinkner who both worked on the first “Jumanji” film in 1995 with original book author Van Allsburg. As a rule of three, the director serves as producer with Matt Tolmach and Dwayne Johnson through his Seven Bucks label.
Born Nora Lum in Queens to a Chinese-American dad and a South Korean immigrant mom, Awkwafina had an early start as a rapper before getting supporting roles in films. Her first starring part was in 2018’s “Ocean’s Eight” before portraying Goh Peik Lin in the hit romantic comedy “Crazy Rich Asians” later that year. She will soon go to work on the “Jumanji” sequel which starts filming this January, in time for a December release.
Image courtesy of The Wrap