Joining tentpole franchise Pirates of the Caribbean – and the somewhat more forgettable The Country Bears, Mission To Mars, and The Haunted Mansion – Jungle Crusie sails into the family of feature films based on Disney theme park attractions. With an unsteady track record when it comes to ride-to-movie adaptations, one word had star Dwayne Johnson signing on instantly, “Nostalgia.”
“The script was in a really good place, and I immediately saw the potential of the opportunity,” says Johnson, who plays Captain Frank “Skipper” Wolff. “This was Walt Disney’s baby. There were a lot of elements that I felt comfortable with saying yes, I will come on board, I’ll partner with you guys, and we will develop this thing.”
When it comes to familiarity with the ride that inspired the film, Johnson was also one of the few members of the cast who had memories of the ride prior to the film’s premiere. “I had ridden the ride when I was a kid. Many moons later, I went to Disney World for the first time and road the ride then, too,” continues Johnson. “So it had a nostalgic element to it when it was first presented to me.” That feeling of nostalgia told him they were working on something that was, “Hopefully unique and special.”
A film based on something that has created so many childhood memories could be a daunting task, but Johnson believes they exceeded that challenge. “I think the movie is so much more than what I expected.”
“The charm of the ride is the simplicity of it,” says Johnson. “There’s so much to do in the Disney parks. Then you get on this ride and it’s almost like you can exhale and really just enjoy the simplicity of the ride, but our movie is anything but simple.”
Assuming Jungle Cruise performs more “Pirates” and less “The Country Bears,” there is also the chance for sequels in the future. If that happens, Johnson is ready. “You hope to get lucky [enough] in a career where you have an opportunity like this.”
You can see Dwayne Johnson as Captain Frank “Skipper” Wolff in Jungle Cruise, now playing in theaters and on Disney+ with Premiere Access.
About Jungle Cruise
Inspired by the famous Disneyland theme park ride, Disney’s “Jungle Cruise” is an adventure-filled, rollicking thrill-ride down the Amazon with wisecracking skipper Frank Wolff and intrepid researcher Dr. Lily Houghton. Lily travels from London, England to the Amazon jungle and enlists Frank’s questionable services to guide her downriver on La Quila—his ramshackle-but-charming boat. Lily is determined to uncover an ancient tree with unparalleled healing abilities—possessing the power to change the future of medicine. Thrust on this epic quest together, the unlikely duo encounters innumerable dangers and supernatural forces, all lurking in the deceptive beauty of the lush rainforest. But as the secrets of the lost tree unfold, the stakes reach even higher for Lily and Frank and their fate—and mankind’s—hangs in the balance.