The plot: What’s it all about?
The Jungle Cruise is based on the Disneyland ride of the same name. Johnson will play a boat skipper named Frank who takes Blunt’s character Lily and her brother McGregor — played by British stand-up comedian Jack Whitehall, who you may recognize from the Good Omens series on Amazon Prime — on a mission to find a tree that has magical healing powers.
The journey will see them fight wild animals and compete against a rival German expedition, with Disney adding that there will be a “supernatural element.”
According to Blunt, who also recently starred in Disney’s recent Mary Poppins Returns, “it’s a love story.”
“The adventure of a lifetime,” The Rock adds in a behind-the-scenes video. Much of the information on filming, production, plot and cast has come from The Rock’s Instagram page, who also previously voiced Moana character Maui for Disney.
Johnson called Blunt’s character “the female version of Indiana Jones” in an Instagram post in June, saying she has “relentless ambition to find the one, elusive magical thing that could change humanity for the better — forever.”
According to The Rock, his skipper character knows the Amazon River better than any other, and only cares about his money, his cat (his cat, it turns out, is a leopard named Proxima, Johnson revealed in an Instagram Live story on Oct. 11) and his liquor.
“Good luck lady in trying to change the world, and not falling for my charm,” he adds.
Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise: What is it?
It’s no surprise that Disney is going after another ride-based movie, after the success of its Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. The Jungle Cruise is even older than the Pirates ride — it was the only attraction to exist in Adventureland on Disneyland’s opening day in 1955.
“Ever since Disneyland Park opened, one of the most popular realms has been Adventureland,” Walt Disney said on his Disneyland TV show back in 1956. “Most everyone has been impressed by, and curious about, the realism of Adventureland — the lifelike animals, the authentic tropical settings.”
To prepare for the movie, Johnson said on Instagram that Disney’s Imagineers let him see the original Jungle Cruise concept art from the 1950s, as well as giving him an “oral/visual history lesson behind the iconic ride and it’s infamous and relentlessly entertaining Skippers.”
The Jungle Cruise attraction features a boat ride through a man-made jungle, with each tour led by a skipper who follows a pun-filled script. The boat travels past crocodiles, piranhas, monkeys, elephants, rhinos, cannibals, hippos and of course the infamous back side of water, the eighth wonder of the world.
The popularity of the Jungle Cruise ride — it also exists at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disney and Hong Kong Disneyland in addition to the original at Disneyland in Anaheim, California — even sparked a song from parody composer Weird Al Yankovic, who penned lyrics about an aspiring actor who falls into the Jungle Cruise skipper role after failing to make it in show biz.
“The critics they used to say/I was the new Olivier/Thought I’d be the toast of Sundance or maybe Cannes,” Weird Al says. “But don’t bother trying to IMDb me/The only place you might possible see me/Is riding my little boat around Adventureland.”
Luckily for us, one Jungle Cruise skipper is now on IMDb thanks to the new Disney movie.
The trailer: What does it look like?
While Disney didn’t show off the official trailer for Jungle Cruise during the D23 Expo in late August, we did finally get to see some footage — a skewed teaser each from The Rock and Emily Blunt. The Rock said it’s a movie about “heroic men kicking ass and saving the girl,” while Blunt’s trailer showed his name much smaller, and said her character is Indiana Jones-esque, seeking knowledge and truth.
In an Instagram story on the D23 account on Aug. 24, Blunt also used the words “adventure,” “thrill,” “romantic” and “comedy” to describe the movie, while The Rock called it “fun.”
Finally sharing some behind-the-scenes footage on Oct. 7 of his and Blunt’s appearance at D23 to introduce the movie, Johnson said the first teaser will be dropping later this week.
“We wanted to make a movie that was big, that was epic, had romance, big comedy, big action, and most importantly … it’s got me,” the Rock said at D23. When Blunt objects to this description, Johnson says: “You have to understand that the last time I was here at D23, I was in a movie where I was literally a demigod called Maui.”YouTube video https://youtu.be/nllI5TmW5iU not found!
“So that was the animated demigod, is that right?” Blunt counters. “It’s just weird because the last time I was here, I was literally Mary Poppins. In the flesh.”
During their D23 appearance, both stars also discussed the responsibility of bringing the beloved Jungle Cruise ride to life, for which Johnson said Walt Disney himself was the first ever skipper.
Disney finally dropped the first full-length trailer for Jungle Cruise on Oct. 11, which kicks off with a scene reminiscent of both Indiana Jones and The Mummy, where Blunt’s character Lily takes a mislabelled artifact from a collection in London and escapes onto an open-top bus filled with soldiers.
When we meet The Rock’s jungle cruise skipper character Frank, it appears he’s enlisted tricks and help from Amazonians to make his tourist cruise down the river more “thrilling.”
Blunt and The Rock join forces in the movie when she needs a passage upriver to Lagrimas ‘E Cristal to discover whether the legend of “a tree in the Amazon that possesses unparalleled healing powers” is true after she finds the arrowhead that is supposedly the key to unlocking it. Though he initially refuses, Frank agrees quickly when she tells him, “I have a lot of money.”
Jungle Cruise also looks a little Pirates of the Caribbean-esque, with Frank telling Lily, “If you believe in legends, you should believe in curses too,” as we see a man wrapped in the roots of a tree and a man made of vines attack him.
Explosions, fistfights and boats approaching deadly waterfalls complete the trailer.
Walt Disney Studios also dropped the official poster for the movie on Oct. 11, posting it on Instagram
Release date: When can I see it?The movie was being filmed in Hawaii around May 2018, a tweet from Whitehall showed. Filming then wrapped in September 2018 according to a Walt Disney Studios video for an original release date of October 11, 2019.
But with the film’s release delayed to summer 2020, The Rock posted on Instagram that production officially wrapped on June 1, 2019.
“Ladies and gents, that’s an OFFICIAL WRAP of production for our DISNEY’S JUNGLE CRUISE,” he said.
Thanks to yet another tweet from the Rock — which included emojis of a ship, devil, map, palm tree, a glass of whiskey and a love heart — we now know it’s going to release on July 24, 2020.
Cast and crew: Who’s in it?
Being directed by Jaume Collet-Serra, whose previous credits include The Shallows and The Commuter, the official cast includes:
The Rock as Frank
Emily Blunt as Lily Houghton
Jack Whitehall as McGregor Houghton
Raphael Alejandro as Zaqueu
Andy Nyman as Sir James Hobbs-Coddington
Simone Lockhart as Anna
Sulem Calderon as Quila
Other characters listed for the movie include warriors and mercenaries, hotel guests and bar patrons, soldiers and archaeologists, valets and a hotel maitre D’, merchants and animal vendors, bus conductors, tourists and society members from Germany, France, Italy and London.
Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise: The movie rumor mill
The movie could be spurring changes to the actual ride, after The Rock posted on Instagram about a visit to “Disney’s highly secure R&D facilities” back in 2017.
“We’ll partner with Disney’s brilliant Imagineers to help re-engineer and re-design the #JungleCruise ride in all the Disney theme parks around the world,” he said.
During an Instagram Live story on Oct. 11 with the skippers at Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise ride, Johnson said he and Blunt will be visiting the attraction “soon.” He also reassured the skippers that there will be a lot of puns in the movie.