The new “Jungle Cruise” debuting next summer will bring the classic 1955 Disneyland ride to the silver screen in an action-adventure epic film starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as a riverboat skipper and Emily Blunt as an intrepid explorer.
The new Hollywood movie pays homage to the old Disneyland ride with scenes involving charging hippos, deadly piranhas, spear-wielding headhunters and the famed “backside of water” at Schweitzer Falls that will be familiar to fans of the pun-filled Adventureland attraction that simulates a riverboat cruise down the Amazon River and other major international waterways.
Disney released the official trailer and movie poster for “Jungle Cruise” on Friday as a teaser for the period film coming to theaters on July 24, 2020.
“Jungle Cruise” stars Johnson as skipper Frank Wolff and Blunt as Dr. Lily Houghton, the swashbuckling adventurer who hires the riverboat captain for a dangerous mission into the Amazon jungle in search of the legendary Tree of Life. Jack Whitehall (“Good Omens”) joins the treacherous river journey as McGregor Houghton, the brother to Blunt’s scientist turned adventurer.
Edgar Ramirez (Gianni Versace in “American Crime Story”) and Jesse Plemons (“Breaking Bad,” “Friday Night Lights”) play villains in the film. Paul Giamatti (“Billions,” “Sideways”) makes an appearance as a crusty harbor master.
The Rock is no stranger to jungle movies, starring in the 2017 “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” and 2012 “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.” Blunt is best known for her work in “Edge of Tomorrow” and “The Devil Wears Prada.” Both stars have done their share of Disney movies, with Johnson voicing Maui in 2016’s “Moana” and Blunt playing the title role in “Mary Poppins Returns.”
SEE ALSO: Disneyland ride mashup: Jungle Cruise skippers take us on a comedic tour through the Haunted Mansion
“Jungle Cruise” pays homage to swashbuckling action-adventure films like “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” “The African Queen” and “Romancing the Stone.”
Johnson, who is also a producer on the film, describes Blunt’s character as a “female version of Indiana Jones.”
“We were just so moved, so honored to be in a movie like this because we both grew up just madly in love with Indiana Jones and obsessed with those kinds of movies,” Blunt said at the D23 Expo in August at the Anaheim Convention Center. “To be part of something like this, with this same spirit, makes my heart race.”
The Rock drew inspiration for his “Jungle Cruise” character from Harrison Ford’s turn as Indiana Jones and Humphrey Bogart’s riverboat captain in “The African Queen.”
Johnson’s jocular skipper delivers “bad but oh so good puns” that continually annoy Blunt’s serious scientist, he wrote on Instagram.
“We wanted to make a movie that was big, that was epic, that had romance, big comedy, big action,” Johnson said at the D23 Expo.
The backstory for “Jungle Cruise” finds skipper Frank Wolff (Johnson) running a riverboat sightseeing expedition that may not be totally above board.
“Of all the jungle cruises you can take in the Amazon, this one is undoubtedly the cheapest but also the most thrilling,” Johnson’s character says in the movie trailer.
The trailer highlights several nods the film pays to the classic Disneyland ride that was one of the original attractions when the Anaheim theme park opened in 1955. Wolff chops ropes with a machete that trigger simplistic animatronic-like figures hidden in the jungle that startle and delight his passengers. He fires a revolver at another rope that raises a hungry hippopotamus out of the water. Headhunters armed with spears and blow darts launch a faux attack on the ship on Wolff’s command. A mini waterfall sprung from an overhead trough that shows passengers the “backside of water” is less than impressive.
Blunt’s Dr. Lily Houghton hires Wolff and his boat for a dangerous quest into the Amazon in search of a fabled tree possessing unparalleled healing powers.
The movie poster for “Jungle Cruise” shows Johnson, Blunt and Whitehall’s characters standing atop a slapdash riverboat riddled with arrows and pursued by piranhas on a jungle river filled with floating human skulls as the ship heads toward a waterfall.
A “Jungle Cruise” film has been in the works since 2006, according to IMDB. “Toy Story” co-stars Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were paired to make “Jungle Cruise” in 2011. Johnson became attached to the project in 2015. The Johnson-Blunt film was originally slated to be released on Oct. 11, 2019 — the same day the trailer and poster were unveiled. Re-shoots in May pushed the release date back to summer 2020.
While many Disneyland attractions are based on films, a few have made the journey in the opposite direction — starting as theme park rides that became major motion pictures. The most famous of those: The $4.5 billion “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise starring Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow.
“Our goal is to push the envelope in a smart, edgy, epically fun way,” Johnson wrote on Instagram. “Johnny Depp raised the bar with Pirates of the Caribbean. Now it’s our turn at bat to take an iconic Disney attraction and hopefully turn it into something dope and cool.”
The success of the “Pirates” franchise compelled Walt Disney Imagineering to add Captain Jack Sparrow audio-animatronic figures to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction at Disneyland. The Rock announced via Instagram in 2017 that he was working with Imagineering to “re-engineer and re-design the Jungle Cruise ride in all the Disney theme parks around the world.” Disney quickly countered Johnson’s announcement and said there were no plans to revamp the Jungle Cruise attractions.
Not every Disney attraction-turned-movie has been a success. For every hit like the “Pirates” films, there have been just as many misses. Hollywood is littered with failed films based on Disneyland attractions and themed lands: “Tower of Terror” (1997), “The Country Bears” (2002), “Mission to Mars” (2002), “The Haunted Mansion” (2003) and “Tomorrowland” (2015).
“Jungle Cruise” is only one of several tentpole movies scheduled for a 2020 release from the Disney-Pixar-Marvel-Star Wars-Fox juggernaut that includes “Black Widow,” “Eternals,” “Onward,” “Soul,” “Raya and the Last Dragon,” “The King’s Man,” a Steven Spielberg-directed “West Side Story” and a live-action “Mulan.”
We invite you to use our commenting platform to engage in insightful conversations about issues in our community. Although we do not pre-screen comments, we reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable to us, and to disclose any information necessary to satisfy the law, regulation, or government request. We might permanently block any user who abuses these conditions.
If you see comments that you find offensive, please use the “Flag as Inappropriate” feature by hovering over the right side of the post, and pulling down on the arrow that appears. Or, contact our editors by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.