20 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About The Classic Jumanji
In the 80s and 90s, Robin Williams was one of the most popular actors of our generation and the mid-90s saw Jumanji hit cinemas.
It became a huge hit, finding popularity with audiences of all ages. Even today, it’s one of those films that can still be enjoyed after multiple viewings.
With the second semi-sequel due out in cinemas any day now, what better time to look back at one of the classics we loved in our youth than with some facts about Jumanji you may not have known?
20. Williams didn’t have to act startled when he was being ‘shot’ at by Van Pelt
There are lots of effects and stunts on display in Jumanji, which only adds to the jungle-based drama.
Not everything in the movie was the result of clever camera work and advanced acting skills, though.
In the scene where his character is being shot at by Van Pelt, Robin Williams’s reaction was actually genuine.
This was because the fake gunshots on-set were extremely loud and kept making him jump.
Luckily, Williams managed to pull himself together and regulate his heartbeat for the rest of the film.
19. Robin Williams wrestled too hard with the actor inside the crocodile suit
During an appearance on Clive Anderson All Talk, Williams revealed an insight into behind the scenes of Jumanji.
He recalled the scene where his character is wrestling a crocodile, which we’re sure is no easy feat.
According to Williams, he fully immersed himself in the action. Perhaps a little too much…
During one take, Williams got carried away and ended up thumping the crocodile with his elbow.
What he had forgotten was that inside the crocodile suit was an actual human, only remembering when he heard a cry of ‘hey’ from inside the crocodile.
18. The prop Jumanji game boards used in the film now sell for thousands of dollars
Over the years since its release, the Jumanji game boards used in the movie have become real collector’s items.
In fact, one board used in the film sold in 2014 for a massive $60,800.
There were a total of 93 bids on the game, with the lucky winner remaining unidentified.
$60,800 is an incredible amount of money to spend on a mere board game, but for die-hard Jumanji fans, it probably felt like the bargain of the century.
The purchase pales in comparison when you consider the price of other movie memorabilia, such as Marilyn Monroe’s dress in The Seven Year Itch, which sold for a whopping $4.8 million in 2016.
17. Williams was given the keys to the town where the film was shot
Robin Williams was very popular with the residents of Keene in New Hampshire, where Jumanji shot, so much so that they welcomed him into the community with open arms.
After filming, the star was actually presented with the keys to the city by the town’s mayor in 1994.
After Williams’ death in 2014, the town’s residents were heartbroken and paid tribute to the late star.
The people of Keene crafted a makeshift memorial of candles and flowers under the Parrish Shoes sign.
They even organised a public screening of the film, and joined together to mourn the loss of the legendary comedian.
16. The director didn’t want Robin Williams
When looking for the star of Jumanji, director Joe Johnston was dubious about casting Robin Williams.
This was due to his reputation for improvising during scenes and Johnston didn’t want anything – or anyone – taking from the film.
Luckily, Williams understood the importance of staying true to the script, although he was still keen to add his own spin on the lines.
Improvisation wasn’t completely forbidden, and Williams was allowed his chance to shine.
Johnston would often shoot duplicates of scenes, sticking to the script during one take and allowing Williams to improvise during others.
15. Scarlett Johansson auditioned to play Kirsten Dunst’s role
Kirsten Dunst was perfect in her role as Judy in Jumanji, but the character could have been played entirely differently.
Another contender for the part was Scarlett Johansson, who auditioned for the role but ultimately lost out to Dunst.
Johansson’s audition tape for Jumanji was later leaked online, and displays what is already a remarkable talent.
Johansson was just 11 at the time of submitting a tape, whilst Dunst was 13.
Perhaps Dunst’s advanced age and experience was what won over the directors and landed her the role.
14. The monkey makeup took three hours to apply each day
During the film, Peter, played by Bradley Pierce, starts to undergo a transformation into a half-monkey, half-human boy.
To achieve this effect, Pierce had to spend three hours per day in the make-up chair for more than 70 days.
Pierce was only supposed to appear monkey-like for 40 days of filming, but the makeup took so long to apply that his scenes ended up being delayed.
According to the actor, he couldn’t eat with the makeup on, meaning he had to suck protein shakes through a straw instead.
To save the young star from boredom, the crew set up a TV in his room so he could watch Planet of the Apes whilst his makeup was being applied.
13. The film is dedicated to the Visual Effects Supervisor, who died before release
When it was released, Jumanji was dedicated to Stephen L Price, in honour of his memory.
Price was the Visual Effects Supervisor on the film and sadly passed away the year the film was released.
During filming, Price had been battling prostate cancer, which ultimately took his life at the age of just 35.
The supervisor worked for one of the leading industry specialists, Industrial Light and Magic.
Prior to Jumanji, Price had worked on several big budget productions, including Jurassic Park and Hook.
12. Williams likened shooting the film to taking LSD
Jumanji was a film that entailed the use of heavy special effects, most of which were completed during post-production.
The production was one of the earliest adopters of heavy CGI use, meaning that the cast had little to no previous experience with the tool.
In order for the scenes to play out as realistically as possible, the actors had to ‘hallucinate’ the CGI creations, pretending as though they were really there.
They would have to react accordingly to the actions of these imaginary beings, acting against a green screen.
Williams likened the experience to acting on LSD, although we can only hope it was slightly less disorientating than the real thing.
11. Williams told fans Jumanji was an island in the Caribbean as a prank
In true Robin Williams style, the actor would often prank his fans by inventing meanings for the word Jumanji.
According to the star, he once told someone that it was ‘an island on the Caribbean’, adding that they should ‘get their tickets early’.
However, the real meaning of the word has actually been revealed by the author of the original Jumanji book.
According to Chris Van Allsburg, Jumanji is a Zulu word meaning ‘many effects’.
This points to the exciting outcomes of the various decisions within the game.
10. Robin Williams could relate to Alan Parrish’s lonely childhood
Williams had an innate ability to make others laugh, perhaps stemming from a lonely, somewhat isolated childhood.
The child of two working parents, young Williams was often left to his own devices as a kid.
His primary caretaker was the family’s maid, with whom he spent the majority of his time.
This experience allowed him to relate to his character, and fully inhabit the part.
Alan Parrish encapsulates the fear most children have: of losing their parents. By the time he is released from the game, his parents are dead, and his worst fear has been realised.
9. Williams saw similarities between Parrish’s father and his own
When asked in an interview whether Williams’ own father was similar to Parrish’s, Williams revealed that there was a comparison between the pair.
Describing his father, Williams said ‘he was a bit stern and kind of elegant’.
Williams also likened the relationship between Alan and his father and his own father and grandfather.
‘The wonderful thing about [my dad] is he would never force me to do anything … because something had happened early in his life where he didn’t want that to happen to me. He had to give up a dream’, Williams explained.
8. The author’s dislike of Monopoly inspired Jumanji
Van Allsburg wrote the original 1981 Jumanji picture book, and has since revealed the inspiration behind the concept.
It turns out he created Jumanji due to his frustration with the board game Monopoly.
According to the author, he was tired of spending eight hours at a time locked away playing the game, only to discover its true meaning was that money equals power.
He also disliked the fact that the game had no real stakes, despite players investing hours into playing it.
‘I thought it would be fun and exciting if there were such a thing as a game board where wherever you landed on a square and it said something was going to happen, then it would really happen’, Van Allsburg explained.
7. The ‘Parrish Shoes’ sign can still be found in New Hampshire
The setting for Alan’s father’s shoe factory was actually a real location in the town of Keene, New Hampshire.
The building itself was also real, with the ‘Parrish Shoes’ sign displayed across the side of the building.
And if you feel so inclined, you can actually go and see the sign in its original location today.
The sign is somewhat of a tourist attraction, drawing droves of visitors to the area.
The locals are immensely proud of the sign, using it as a base for their tributes to Williams after his death.
6. Peter actor Bradley Pierce was also the voice of Flounder in The Little Mermaid
Bradley Pierce was just 13 at the time of filming Jumanji, and despite his young age, had racked up a wealth of experience.
After the success of Jumanji, the actor went on to enjoy a successful career in the film industry.
If you’ve seen Beauty and the Beast, you’ll probably be familiar with the adorable tea cup, Chip.
What you might not have known is that Chip is actually voiced by Pierce – as is The Little Mermaid’s Flounder.
Pierce doesn’t act much these days, having done most of his work as a child actor, though he can still be seen in the occasional film and heard in the odd video game.
5. The author of Jumanji also wrote The Polar Express
Jumanji wasn’t the only book that garnered success for author Chris Van Allsburg.
Van Allsburg also wrote the popular children’s novel The Polar Express, which was written just four years after Jumanji.
The book was later made into a film in 2004, and starred a plethora of well-known actors, including Tom Hanks and Josh Hutcherson.
This was the first all-digital capture film ever made, and is even recognised in the Guinness Book of World Records as such.
The books share similarities, both consisting of a child who leaves home for a prolonged period of time and experiences the perils and trials of life.
4. The film’s final scene was shot first
The finale of Jumanji, where Alan and Sarah see the children at the Christmas party, is one of the most memorable moments in the film.
Although this scene appears at the end of the film, however, it was actually shot at the beginning of filming.
This was to avoid using more than one mansion set, seeing as the mansion was completely destroyed during filming.
The walls were actually torn down by the crew in order to mimic the stampeding animal scenes.
Filming in the dilapidated mansion would not have been quite so fun for the cast and crew, and probably wouldn’t have produced the impressive scene the directors were after.
3. The crew had to shovel in snow from nearby mountains for the Christmas scene
Jumanji’s final Christmas scene was shot on location in Vancouver, BC, located near Seattle.
Unfortunately for the crew, Vancouver isn’t particularly known for its snowy winters, instead having a rather rainy climate.
This presented problems for the crew, who desperately sought the snowy scenery needed for the final scenes.
In the end, they resorted to shovelling snow from the mountains in order to achieve the desired effects.
We must say, they did a pretty good job, creating the snowy scenes of a fairytale.
2. Alan’s father and Van Pelt are played by the same actor
Actor Jonathan Hyde plays both Alan’s father and the hunter who ends up stalking Alan as prey.
It’s likely this was intentional by the directors, with both Mr Parrish and Van Pelt representing overbearing figures in Alan’s life.
There are however other theories circling the internet, some of which seem to be legitimate suggestions.
One of these is the rather bizarre speculation that Van Pelt wasn’t actually real, and rather a figment of Alan’s imagination.
This theory gains some traction when you consider that Alan had been stuck in a dangerous jungle world for 26 years, and it’s highly improbable he would be of sound mind after this experience.
1. There’s a real Jumanji board game
If you’re anything like us, watching Jumanji probably gave you some serious board game envy.
But fear not, for now you can bag yourself your very own Jumanji game.
Board game manufacturer Milton Bradley was quick to the mark in making a replica of the iconic board game (albeit a slightly less magical version).
The game completely mimicks the rules of the game in the film, instructing players to roll a dice to move and apply strategy in order to make it out alive.
Luckily, as of yet, no players have been sucked into the game and forced to exist there for 26 years.