Five years ago, few would’ve believed that the 1995 family adventure romp Jumanji would spark a megabucks Hollywood franchise. There was a lot of nostalgic love for the original film, starring Robin Williams, but it didn’t seem likely that the story had the legs to sustain sequels.
Then, Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle arrived in December of 2017 and blew everyone away, earning $962m (£734m) at the global box office thanks to a zeitgeisty cast led by Dwayne Johnson, alongside Kevin Hart, Jack Black and Karen Gillan.
Two years later, everyone is back for The Next Level, which is attracting very positive reactions and has already scooped $223m (£170m) after just a couple of weeks in play.
With those financial results in the bag, Jumanji 4 seems like a dead cert. And The Next Level lays the table very nicely for that possibility with its mid-credits scene. Spoilers are coming below this image...
What happens at the end of Jumanji: The Next Level?
Jumanji: The Next Level concludes, unsurprisingly, with the gang escaping the game once again and returning to the real world. Danny DeVito’s Eddie has a newfound interest in his grandson’s video games and his buddy Milo (Danny Glover) has opted to stay behind within the game world in the form of a horse. It’s an odd movie.
Read more: Jack Black hints at post-Jumanji retirement
There’s a nod to the original film as Eddie visits the diner he used to own, which is now run by Nora Shepherd (Bebe Neuwirth) — aunt of child protagonists Peter and Judy. Then, in that aforementioned mid-credits scene, a heating mechanic finds the battered, malfunctioning Jumanji game in a basement. He appears to tinker with it, which causes him to be sucked into that game just as the other characters were at the beginning of the film.
Most interestingly, though, is that this again harks back to the original movie as a rampaging flock of ostriches are released from the game into the real world. They run past the diner as the teenage protagonists have a reunion meal.
What this means for Jumanji 4
This opens the door for a sequel which steps out of the realm of the video game and becomes more of a direct homage to the 1995 original.
The genius of both Welcome to the Jungle and The Next Level lies in the way they shift the formula of the franchise to do something entirely different. In Welcome to the Jungle, it was the video game conceit and in The Next Level, it’s the shuffling of the avatar characters into different roles. It seems that for Jumanji 4, the twist will be to take the concept of the original film and open it out, with aspects of Jumanji pouring out into the real world in spectacular fashion.
This also raises tantalising possibilities for the fate of the avatar characters.
Could The Rock, Kevin Hart, Karen Gillan and Jack Black return for another Jumanji?
Sony will not be making another film in this franchise without the presence of its A-list talent, so it might be time for Dr Smolder Bravestone, Ruby Roundhouse and friends to make their way — Enchanted-style — into the world outside of their video game home. We’ve seen these actors play teenagers and pensioners inhabiting the avatars, so it will be interesting to see how the avatars’ personas shake out without a player pulling the strings.
Whatever happens, it’s impressive that Jumanji has risen from its improbable roots to become a reliable Hollywood cash cow with a sizeable amount of creativity lurking beneath the hood.
The inevitable fourquel — though an announcement is not yet forthcoming — looks set to explore a wider canvas and merge the adventurous world of Jumanji with the reality of the 21st century.
It could be very good indeed.