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Disney 'Jungle Cruise's arduous journey to the big screen

'Jungle Cruise' is finally hitting screens on July 30, but the movie has been in development since 2004
Official poster for 'Jungle Cruise' (Disney)
Official poster for 'Jungle Cruise' (Disney)

Disney’s upcoming movie, ‘Jungle Cruise’, is without a doubt the summer’s biggest blockbuster and fans are really eager to sit inside the theaters with their families and go for a thrilling adventure. It’s been a while that people have got the chance to go into cinema halls with their loved ones and enjoy the movies that they always wanted to see on the biggest screen possible.

With most of the people already getting jabbed, it will be interesting to see if they decide to flood the theaters to watch the upcoming movie. Starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Emily Blunt in the lead role, “Jungle Cruise” follows the journey of a riverboat captain named Frank (Johnson), who says yes to an adventure and accompanies a British scientist Lulu Houghton (Emily Blunt), and her brother on a mission to find the Tree of Life.


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However, they soon realize that some evil forces are also looking out for the tree and want to use it for their personal benefits. The captain and the scientist must do anything to find the tree before it falls into the hands of the wrong people. The upcoming movie is based on the ‘Jungle Cruise’ theme ride located in Adventureland at four Disney theme parks worldwide: Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, and Hong Kong Disneyland.

As far as the movie is concerned, it hasn’t been an easy ride for the project to come out in theaters. The idea of making a ‘Jungle Cruise’ movie started in 2004 after the success of the 'Pirates of the Caribbean' movie. The movie starring Johnny Depp in the lead was also based on one of the theme park rides at Disneyland. The movie turned out to be a huge box office success and gave the production company the idea that it can make more movies based on various rides.

Johnny Depp (Captain Jack Sparrow) and Orlando Bloom (Will Turner) in 'Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl' (Disney)

In 2004, it was announced that the project will be developed for Mandeville Films, with a script penned by Josh Goldstein and John Norville. The casting process never got started and due to many unforeseen reasons, the production of the movie could never get started.

For almost seven years, studios never even mentioned the ‘Jungle Cruise’ in their calendars, and fans were sad that they are never going to see the movie. However, in 2011, it was announced that a movie is being developed by Disney and they were ready to rope in big guns for the projects. Hollywood stalwarts like Tom Hanks and Tim Allen would star in the long-gestating movie. On the other hand, the script for the movie was being written by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Robert SH Schulman.

The news of Hanks and Allen teaming up another movie after the ‘Toy Story’ franchise made everyone happy. Everyone believed that it is surely going to be a blockbuster hit for Disney. But they didn’t know that something worse was waiting for them. From 2011 to 2015, we never got to hear anything about the movie, but the movie still remained part of Disney’s calendar.

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen attend the world premiere of Disney and Pixar's TOY STORY 4 at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, CA on Tuesday, June 11, 2019. (Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images for Disney)

Finally, in August 2015, we got the confirmation that Disney was moving ahead with the movie adaptation. However, Hanks and Allen were not attached to the project this time around. The production giant announced that former WWE superstar Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson will be playing the lead role.

The redevelopment of the film adaptation came as a shock to many because people were losing interest due to the never-ending delays. Disney also announced that the previously written script by Goldstein and Norville will be rewritten by John Requa and Glenn Ficarra. But, the studio was still looking for a director to helm the film.

Dwayne Johnson of 'Jungle Cruise' took part today in the Walt Disney Studios presentation at Disney’s D23 EXPO 2019 in Anaheim, Calif. 'Jungle Cruise' will be released in U.S. theaters on July 24, 2020. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

In 2017, Johnson, who was heavily involved in the creative process of the movie, noted that he wants Patty Jenkins to direct the ‘Jungle Cruise’ movie. The comments were made just a few weeks before ‘Wonder Woman’ was scheduled to hit theaters. It seems Johnson knew how big of a blockbuster it was going to be. He said, “Patty has that really cool edge. I felt like she could be a really cool choice for a movie like ‘Jungle Cruise’. Plus, you know what? I’m just a big fan.” Now, we don’t know how the negotiations went on, but it never materialized and it was later announced that Jaume Collett-Serra will be donning the director’s hat for the upcoming film.

In 2018, it was revealed that Golden Globe-winning actress Emily Blunt will be playing the female lead in the movie. In May 2018, the shooting began and the dream was finally coming true. Initially, it was slated for October 11, 2019, before being moved to July 24, 2020. However, the Covid-19 pandemic struck the world and the theaters were forced to shut down because of the virus.

(L-R) Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt attend Go Behind The Scenes with Walt Disney Studios during D23 Expo 2019 at Anaheim Convention Center on August 24, 2019, in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Disney decided to wait and moved the release date to 2021. Even after moving up the date, the production giant knew that movie theaters might not open up in full capacity even if the cases go down and they will have to bear huge losses. So they took the decision to release the movie simultaneously in theaters and on Disney+.

‘Jungle Cruise’ is finally hitting the theaters on July 30 and viewers can watch the movie on Disney+ if they have premier access.