When Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle opened to the tune of $36 million and then went on to accumulate a grand total of $962.1 million worldwide, it was clear that the series was going to keep heading down the franchise path and now, sure enough, here we are with the release of a new installment, Jumanji: The Next Level. Weekend estimates are in and, yet again, things are looking good for the film, which kicked off its run by exceeding expectations and posting a $60 million start at the domestic box office. And on top of that, the film’s worldwide total already sits at a whopping $212.6 million.
It’s a thrill to see the film performing well because, one, it’s a great time at the theater this holiday season and, two, director Jake Kasdan throws in quite the third (fourth?) film tease at the end of this one. That being said, the rest of this article contains Jumanji: The Next Level spoilers so if you haven’t seen the film, turn back now!
Jumanji: The Next Level concludes with Spencer’s mother (Marin Hinkle) waiting for a repair person. That repair person winds up being New Girl’s Lamorne Morris. After being led down to the basement, Morris spots the game console, walks towards it and then we get a shot of the cafe with ostriches running by.
While in Cabo San Lucas for the Jumanji: The Next Level press event in November, I got the chance to chat with Kasdan and had to ask him about teeing up a new story and also about how that 1995 Jumanji cameo came to be. Nora’s cafe in Next Level belong to Judy and Peter Shepherd’s aunt Nora played by Bebe Neuwirth. Here’s what Kasdan said when asked if the intention is for the next movie to bring elements from the game to the real world and possibly even have the young real world ensemble meet their avatars face to face:
“That part we haven’t figured out yet, but the idea that the game coming into the real world, yeah. And the idea of bringing Bebe into it was a late breaking thing that, at the last minute, in the middle of the night I was working on sort of rewriting that scene and had this moment where I was like, ‘It should be here …’ [Laughs] I got so excited about that. But this is a way that we can connect these stories in the restaurant. We can call it Nora’s and we’ll get her. She’s the perfect person to do it.”
“It was a really funny thing. That was a really funny one because – so she, as I suspected, had not seen our first movie, Welcome to the Jungle, so I knew getting on the phone that that was very likely and that if she hadn’t, it’s like the five minutes of explaining what that role is that she’s playing is like incredibly complicated. I’m like, ‘So now it’s a video game and you go in and you’re a different …’ [Laughs] So I was like trying to distill it down and she was kind of like, ‘I think I follow and let’s go, let’s do it. I’ll be there.’ And then she came and my god, talk about another just like where you go, ‘This is such an amazing actor.’ That thing she does at the end, it’s a couple of moments, but to me it’s like, the couple of times when we would show it to little audiences and stuff, the reaction she gets; she’s just amazing, you know?”
As a big fan of the 1995 original, that connection truly was a delightful surprise. If the future of this franchise means the A+ avatar ensemble going on an adventure with the real world cast plus Neuwirth in the mix, I’ll certainly be rooting for The Next Level to continue carving out a path straight towards another film.
Click here to check out the full conversation with Kasdan.