20 facts you never knew about the original 'Jumanji'

Hanna Flint
Contributor
Robin Williams led the original Jumanji movie of the Nineties (TriStar)

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle will hit movie theatres shortly as a sequel to the original 1995 film starring the late Robin Williams. Though this time around the board game has become a videogame and the action takes place inside it rather than the real world.

Dawyne Johnson, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black take the lead in the new film, which pays homage to the original and Williams’ character Alan Parrish, so Yahoo Movies UK has decided to pay tribute too by putting together a list of facts about Jumanji you may never have known about.


  1. Jumanji is based on the 1981 book of the same name…

Jumanji was released in 1981

The children’s picture book was written and illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg.

2. “Jumanji” means “many effects” in Zulu

Jumanji means “many effects” apparently

That’s according to Van Allsburg who used it to refer to the crazy consequences of playing the Africa-inspired game.

3. Robin Williams wasn’t the first choice for the role of Alan

Tom Hanks was the first choice for the role of Alan in ‘Jumanji’ (PA)

Tom Hanks was, actually. In fact, Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Sean Penn, Kevin Costner, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Douglas, Rupert Everett, Harrison Ford, Alec Baldwin and plenty of other actors were considered before Williams was hired.

4. Kim Cattrall, Jamie Lee Curtis and Julia Roberts were considered for Sarah

Bonnie Hunt plays Sarah Whittle in the film (TriStar)

Likewise, Jodie Foster, Madonna, Demi Moore, Michelle Pfeiffer, Meg Ryan, Sharon Stone, Jennifer Tilly, Lea Thompson, Helen Hunt, Julianne Moore, Heather Locklear, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jennifer Grey and Rebecca De Mornay were considered to play Sarah Whittle before Bonnie Hunt got the role.

5. Neither Sarah or Alan were characters in the original book

Sarah and Alan weren’t in the original book (TriStar)

They were added to the script by writer Jonathan Hensleigh and Robin Williams doesn’t appear until half an hour into the movie.

6. Scarlett Johansson auditioned for the role of Judy

Scarlett Johansson auditioned for the Judy role (Photo: Getty Images)

But of course Kirsten Dunst was selected in the end.

7. There wasn’t a big age gap between Judy and Peter in real life

Bradley Pierce and Kirsten Dunst played Peter and Judy (TriStar)

Kirsten was 13 at the time and just six months older than Bradley Pierce, who played her brother, despite the fact that there was meant to be a much larger age gap.

8. There was a bigger age gap between Robin and Bonnie

Bonnie was ten years younger than Robin despite the fact their characters were the same age (TriStar)

Despite the fact their characters are meant to be the same age, Robin was ten years older than Bonnie.

9. Robin Williams did impressions on the set

A favourite of Kirsten Dunst was him doing Jodie Foster, from the movie Nell, ordering at a drive-thru.

10. Williams was reminded of his own family doing the movie

Alan’s father was played by Jonathan Hyde (TriStar)

The actor says the tense relationship between Alan and his father was more like his own father and grandfather’s relationship.

11. No live animals were used in the film

No real animals were used in the film (TriStar)

There was a rumour that real elephants were used, and one got injured, but in fact it was all pretty much CGI.

12. Apart from a few puppets

A real puppeteer, Tom Woodruff Jr, wore a costume to play the crocodile that Williams wrestles with.

13. The final scenes were shot first

The final Christmas scene was shot first

That’s because the Shepherd’s house needed to be in mint condition to film the Christmas scene. After that they just gradually demolished the house to reflect the jungle creatures wreaking more havoc.

14. Robin Williams wouldn’t let his kids watch the film

Robin Williams apparently didn’t let his younger children watch the movie when it came out (Getty)

His youngest were around five and three at the time and despite it being billed as a family movie, he felt it was too scary, as did film critic Roger Ebert.

15. It was a box office hit

The film was a box office hit

The film cost $65 million to make and was a commercial success, earning $262,797,249 at the international box office.

16. Though critics were less impressed

Jumanji wasn’t a hit with critics

It was not loved by critics at the time of release as it had just a 50% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes, though it has since become a family favourite.

17. A Jumanji board used in the movie once sold in 2014 for $60,800

There are just three from the original film in circulation

It was one of three boards custom-made for the movie.

18. Zathura is a sequel to the book Jumanji

It starred Josh Hutcherson and Kristen Stewart

It was made into a movie in 2005, but no reference was ever made to the original Jumanji film or book.

19. There is actually a Jumanji video game

It was made for the PlayStation 2

It was released in Europe for the PlayStation 2 in 2006 but shares no similarities to Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.

20. There was an animated series too

Sarah was not in the animated series

It ran between 1996 and 1999 but it retconned Sarah’s character. Peter’s character was voiced by Ashley Johnson, who also voiced Emily/Jamie in King of the Hill.

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