Disney’s latest blockbuster adaptation of an iconic theme park attraction arrives this Friday way behind schedule, with Jungle Cruise originally wrapping production in September 2018, and an October 2019 release date was staked out long before the Coronavirus pandemic came along. The big budget adventure was initially pushed to July 2020, but it’s finally coming to theaters and Disney Plus Premier Access in just a couple of days.
However, that’s nothing compared to how long the project spent stuck in development hell. Dwayne Johnson may have first become attached to Jungle Cruise in the summer of 2015, but it had already been in the works for over a decade at that point, having first been given the green light shortly after the unexpected success of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
While the early 20th Century setting has remained intact throughout Jungle Cruise‘s existence, the lead pairing could have been completely different. Johnson and Emily Blunt are receiving widespread praise for their crackling chemistry, but Toy Story duo Tom Hanks and Tim Allen were originally announced as the two stars. In a new interview, The Rock explained that the version he’s headlining and producing was rebuilt from the ground up.
I just think in the world of Hollywood, as you know, things get developed and there’s an energy and fervor behind it and then something happens and somebody drops out and it just goes away. But also, everything happens in the way it should happen and by the time it got to me it was a complete rewrite from page one.
Pixar’s classic animated franchise showed that Hanks and Allen make for a fantastic bickering duo, and it would have been fun to see them carry that baggage into the live-action realm. As it stands, though, Jungle Cruise is gaining solid reviews out of the gate having been labeled as one of the summer’s best surprises that offers a winning blend between Pirates of the Caribbean, 1999’s The Mummy and Romancing the Stone, so it all appears to have worked out pretty well in the end.