- Jumanji’s original sequel would have taken place in The White House and featured CGI animals.
- Author Chris Van Allsburg disliked the idea and wrote a different sequel, Zathura.
- Zathura failed to achieve the same impact as Jumanji but is currently streaming on Netflix and Prime Video.
The Jumanji franchise made a comeback after over two decades when Dwayne Johnson starred in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle in 2017. However, the initial sequel idea might have prevented this if it had been executed earlier. In an interview with SyFy Wire, original Jumanji book writer Chris Van Allsburg shared that after the success of the 1995 film, producers pitched a sequel set in The White House, which he strongly disliked. As a result, Allsburg wrote a different sequel titled Zathura, which was turned into a movie directed by Jon Favreau.
Zathura is considered a standalone spinoff of the Jumanji franchise, and only materialized because Allsburg wanted to stop the producers from pursuing their White House idea. The author explained the abandoned Jumanji sequel’s plot, saying that the game would have ended up in an antique shop in Normandy; the President would purchase the game for his kids and take it back to Washington, DC, causing mayhem in the White House and halls of Congress. The writer critiqued the plot as an excuse to display CGI artists’ capabilities.
Zathura, also known as Zathura: A Space Adventure, failed to make the same impact as Jumanji at the box office when it was released, possibly due to Robin Williams’s absence or its competition with films like Disney’s Chicken Little and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire at the time. Despite favorable reviews and award nominations, the movie barely covered its $65 million budget. Starring actors such as Josh Hutcherson, Tim Robbins, Frank Oz, and Kristen Stewart, Zathura tells the story of two brothers who stumble upon a mysterious board game that transports them to space, where they fight for their survival and return home.
Although the connection to Jumanji without Robin Williams might have overshadowed Zathura, Jumanji star Jack Black previously expressed interest in expanding the universe and taking the franchise back to space. As of now, a fourth Jumanji movie seems unlikely, meaning that Zathura’s return to the screens might only be a distant dream. For those curious, Zathura is currently available for streaming on Netflix and Prime Video.