Jack Whitehall, Emily Blunt and Dwayne Johnson in Jungle Cruise
producers John Davis and John Fox said the Pirates of the Caribbean
series was their model for turning a theme-park attraction into a successful film, and attribute the results to the care they took to make it nostalgic but also fresh.
Fox, president of production for Davis Entertainment, said it wasn't enough to translate the experience of the Jungle Cruise rides
from Disney theme parks into film. "We went back to its origins, to what inspired the ride -- the movie The African Queen --
and we built it out from there," Fox told Forbes
. The creative strategy worked: between theaters and streaming on Disney+ Premier Access, Jungle Cruise grossed $91.8 million in its opening weekend
"We never read previous versions of the film, but from what I hear, it was a present-day high concept approach; that’s very different from what we were doing," Fox said. "We intended to make something that felt classic and a bit nostalgic. Movies like Indiana Jones and Pirates of the Caribbean were the guiding lights for us. Hopefully, the audience appreciates what we were going for."
Davis, founder of Davis Entertainment, added, "What we wanted to do was eventize it and make it a true blockbuster event. We wanted it to be larger than life, give it a freshness. We admired to a large degree what [producer] Jerry Bruckheimer did with Pirates. It worked great, and that was a great ride. There was something nostalgic, but it also put your characters in a great deal of jeopardy to do a period piece. It’s not like you can have your cell phone and call a helicopter to get you out. It’s not like you have antibiotics, and you’ve had all your shots. It was a real adventure."
Davis also praised star Emily Blunt's role as Dr. Lily Houghton
. "Emily’s character, she’s an adventurer," he said. "Coming up with that character was cool because she’s a female Indiana Jones. She’s what women in that day and age weren’t allowed to be and does what they weren’t allowed to do, which was to go out into the world and explore."
Directed by Jaume Collet-Serra and starring Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt, Jungle Cruise is now playing in theaters and available on Disney+ Premier Access.