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Who would you prefer to see as the Skipper in Disney's Jungle Cruise movie? Tim Allen or Tom Hanks?

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Who would you prefer to see as the Skipper in Disney's Jungle Cruise movie? Tim Allen or Tom Hanks?

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Late last week, SkipperZippy wrote in to ask about that "Jungle Cruise" movie that Walt Disney Pictures just announced. To be specific:

I'm so excited about the Jungle Cruise movie.  Can you please tell me which roles Tom Hanks and Tim Allen will be playing in this movie? What scenes from the theme park attraction will be recreated as part of this movie?

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

SkipperZippy -

First of all, you may want to contain that excitement a bit. After all, we're quite a way aways from the actual physical start of production on Disney's "The Jungle Cruise" movie.

To be specific, if ABC actually decides to pick up "The Last Days of Man" (i.e. that sitcom pilot that Tim Allen is supposed to shoot for Fox) ... Well, that then means that Allen wouldn't really be available to begin working on this new Mandeville Films production until sometime in the late winter / early spring of 2012.

And in the meantime, you can expect that Roger S.H. Schulman (Who's probably best known for the work that he did on the screenplays of "Shrek," "The Jungle Book 2," "Mulan II," "Bambi II" and "The Fox and the Hound 2." Though - more recently - Schulman served as executive producer for two Disney Channel series, "Phil of the Future" and "Jonas") will be digging through all of the previous drafts of Disney's "The Jungle Cruise" movie scripts as he attempts to craft a live-action feature which will then showcase both Hanks & Allen's comic talents.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And make no mistake here. Roger has quite the pile of scripts to dig through. Let's remember that Walt Disney Pictures has been struggling to get a "Jungle Cruise" movie made ever since the Spring of 2004. Which is when "Sweet Valley High" creator Josh Goldstein and John Norville (best known as the screenwriter of Kevin Costner's 1996 golf comedy,"Tin Cup") were first hired to write a feature film script that was based on this popular Adventureland attraction.

Now jump ahead to September of 2006. Which is when the Studio brought in "Smallville" creators Al Gough and Miles Millar. With the hope that these two might succeed where Goldstein & Norville had failed and then find a way to turn the "Jungle Cruise" ride into a family-friendly adventure-comedy.

Clearly Al & Miles' take on this material (which was supposed to be - if you can believe it - a lighthearted riff on Joseph Conrad's existential trip upriver, "Heart of Darkness") didn't sit well with Mouse House managers. Which is why this project (which then-Disney Studio head Dick Cook had seen as a natural follow-up to the "Pirates of Caribbean" film franchise, given that " ... the skipper will ... be more of an Indiana Jones kind of guy, with a little Jack Sparrow in him") was then tabled for a few years.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But then came "Toy Story 3" with its worldwide gross of nearly $1.1 billion. Not to mention those 10.6 million DVDs of this Lee Unkrich film that have been sold since November of 2010. Which got folks at the Studio thinking that - if "TS3" really was going to be the very last feature film in the "Toy Story" series - wasn't there then some sort of live-action project that they could then pair Tim Allen & Tom Hanks in? Because audiences clearly enjoyed it when these two performers worked together.

So that's when they began burrowing through everything that the Studio then had in development.  And once they came across that last draft of "The Jungle Cruise" ... Well, given that Tom Hanks had appeared in 1990's "Joe Versus the Volcano" & 2000's "Cast Away" and Tim Allen had starred in 1997's "Jungle 2 Jungle," it did seem plausible that audiences might respond strongly to a film which then placed these two popular performers in a jungle setting where they could then have some sort of comic adventure.

But then came the big question: Who should play the Skipper role in this motion picture? Given that Hanks had turned in such a memorable comic performance in 1992's "A League of Their Own," playing against type as the washed-up, former-baseball-great--now-alcoholic Jimmy Dugan ... Well, some folks at Disney thought that it might be great fun if Tom played a similar sort of character in "The Jungle Cruise."

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

The only problem with that was ... Well, Allen had already done the while fish-out-of-water, beleaguered-Dad-takes-a-trip-upriver-and-can't-really-handle-all-of-the-jungle-stuff thing in 1997's "Jungle 2 Jungle."  Which is why it just didn't make sense for Tim to play the exact same sort of character again in Disney's "Jungle Cruise" movie.

So - as of right now - Tim is supposedly playing the Skipper in this film while Tom reportedly has the Dad's role. The guy who decides to treat his family to something special by taking them on a trip upriver.

Now as for which sequences from this Disneyland Opening Day attraction will be replicated as part of "Jungle Cruise," the movie ... The drafts that I've previously read of this project were all set in Africa. Deliberately so that the filmmakers could then make use of the elephant bathing pool, the safari outpost (i.e. that scene in this Adventureland ride where Gorillas have invaded some explorer's camp), the hippo pool as well as the rapids. A version of this "Jungle Cruise" film that had been set back in the late 1940s / early 1950s also included the trapped safari (i.e. that great white hunter and his porters being treed by a rhino). But all of the drafts that were set in the present day opted to delete that comic scene from this theme park attraction.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

And - yes - just in case you're wondering: The "back side of water" does actually factor into the storyline of Disney's "Jungle Cruise" film. In several drafts of this screenplay, the Skipper, the Dad and his family all had to journey under Schweitzer Falls. So that they can then search for this cure which was supposedly hidden deep inside of a cave behind that waterfall.

Whether Roger S.H. Schulman will actually keep this journey-under-the-waterfall plot point in his version of "The Jungle Cruise" screenplay remains to be seen. I do know that Schulman has supposedly been asked to create several instances in this proposed motion picture where Tim & Tom's characters will then get the chance to bicker. The thinking here is ... Well, given that those scenes in the "Toy Story" films where Buzz & Woody get to verbally spar with one another are among the more memorable moments from those movies ... Well, Disney is hoping that audiences will respond just as strongly to some live-action versions of these same sorts of scenes.

And that - when you get right down to it - is why Disney's "Jungle Cruise" movie finally got greenlit. Not because the Studio had an especially strong script in hand. But - rather - because it was actively looking for some sort of vehicle that Tom Hanks and Tim Allen could then co-star in. So that - when this film is finally ready to be released to theaters - Disney can then promote this project as being the one that reunites these "Toy Story" stars, placing Tim & Tom in their first live-action feature together. More importantly, by having Hanks & Allen do lots of high profile television appearances - like being interviewed on ABC's "Good Morning America" and/or sitting down on the couch for NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno"& CBS's "Late Show with David Letterman" - together. Which - the Studio hopes - will help build audience interest and then make this project the sort of motion picture that people just have to see while it's out in theaters.

Tom Hanks and Tim Allen at the "Toy Story 3" world premiere. Photo by Tom
Williamson / WireImage. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Because - to be blunt - Disney could really use some sure-fire hits for 2012 and beyond. Given that 2011 hasn't exactly gotten off to a stellar start for the Studio.

To explain: While "Gnomeo & Juliet" looks like it may eventually limp past $100 million domestic, which would then give Disney its first official blockbuster of the new year, everything else that the Studio has released to date has under-performed. Take - for example --"I am Number Four." Though this Disney-released DreamWorks release just wrapped up its fourth weekend in theaters, this sci-fi adventure - which reportedly cost $60 million to produce -- has only sold $50.4 million worth of tickets so far. Or better yet, "Mars Needs Mars." Which - according to initial box office reports -- only pulled in $6.8 million over its opening weekend.

This is why Disney is looking for sure things for 2012 and beyond. Movies that will not only recover all of their production and P&A costs but also turn a healthy profit.

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

But the downside is ... Given the multitude of theme park-related projects that Walt Disney Studios already has in development (i.e. Dwayne Johnson's oft-delayed "Tomorrowland" movie, that "Magic Kingdom" film which Jon Favreau will soon begin directing for Disney, that "Haunted Mansion" reboot which Guillermo del Toro is developing, that "Enchanted Tiki Room" -inspired script that Ahmet Zappa is writing for the Studio, not to mention that Terry Rossio was recently signed to write the screenplay for "Pirates of the Caribbean 5"), one wonder what sort of appetite the movie-going public will still have for productions like this by the time that "The Jungle Cruise" finally floats into theaters in 2013 / 2014.

But that's where Tim Allen and Tom Hanks come in. They're Disney's insurance policy when it comes to making sure that people will actually turn out to see "The Jungle Cruise." But given Allen & Hanks' back-end deals (Which hopefully won't be nearly as pricey as the one that the Mouse had with Johnny Depp on Tim Burton's "Alice in Wonderland." For his inspired performance as the Mad Hatter, Depp reportedly took home $40 million), this could turn out to be a pretty pricey insurance policy.

Which is why the Studio is supposedly looking to get some additional insurance for their Tim-and-Tom insurance policy. The way I hear it, Disney has allegedly already put in a request with Pixar that they produce a "Toy Story Toon" (You know? One of those new "Toy Story" -themed shorts like "Hawaiian Vacation," which is going to be screened in front of "Cars 2" this June?). So that - just ahead of this "Jungle Cruise" movie - people will then be reminded of why they so enjoy  it when Tim Allen & Tom Hanks work together.

Copyright Disney / Pixar. All rights reserved

But what do you folks think? Would you go see "Disney's Jungle Cruise" movie if a new "Toy Story Toon" were to be screened just ahead of this live-action feature?

More to the point, do you agree with Disney's casting choice? Who would you prefer to see as this film's Skipper? Tim or Tom?

Your thoughts?

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  • I went to see Toy Story 3 for many reasons, seeing Tim and Tom working together again was not one of them..

    Very excited to see Magic Kingdom though, will be interesting to see what Favreau does with that.

  • If they really can't decide who should play the captain, why not go the obvious route?  Hire Kurt Russell to reprise his beloved role as Captain Ron, since this sounds like a remake in a new locale.  Then they can have Hanks and Allen playing dueling brothers, trying to prove who is the greater patriarch.  Maybe one family can have a foster daughter, or exchange student, that a son from the other family can fall for.

    In the end, the brothers realize that they are both good parents, and their respective families realize they they love the brothers more than Captain Ron who sails away with another family, in a new boat, ready for the next wacky adventure.

    Captain Ron 2: The Jungle Cruise

    Starring Tom Hanks and Tim Allen

    Featuring Kurt Russell

    There ya go Diz, free of charge!

  • Personally, I'm anxiously awaiting production of "The Mad Tea Party Adventure", where Tom Hanks and Tim Allen play a couple of dumb shmucks who get caught up in a marathon spinning tea cups ride, resulting in their brains turning to mush and thereafter are soon hired on as Disney film executives! Laughs galore!

  • I really hope this movie turns out as more of a POTC type adventure than some silly Haunted Mansion comedy. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the latter for what it was, but POTC has set a high expectation for what Disney can do with these properties. And with such an awesome actor like Hanks attached, they really need to skip the fart jokes and make an exciting grown-up film.

  • I'm excited to see more from these two! Hoping for a great movie!

  • This hurts.

    This just hurts.

    I can't read this without something hurting.

    You write the script and then you make the movie. Not the other way around.

    Oh, who put these people in charge?

    It hurts.

  • How about NEITHER?  Put both of these guys out to pasture, please.

  • I'd much rather see Sean Connery and Colin Hanks in an adaptation of Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

    ...Or some kind of Atlantis inspired movie. I'll look forward to the "Magic Kingdom" movie, and the retooled "Haunted Mansion" but I doubt this movie stays afloat. Haven't we seen enough buddy adventure comedies.  I suspect this movie will capsize much like the boats used in the Disneyland attraction.

  • Tim Allen , in my opinion, is perfect to play skipper in Jungle Cruise movie. My kids would never think of a trip to Disney World without a least one (or more) rides on The Jungle Cruise!  Potentially Disney could create a very big hit with this duo!

  • Ya know... this would be a perfect movie for David Zucker/Jim Abrahams.  Too bad Leslie Nielsen passed away.

  • They really need to abandon the family in the film and just go for a Hope/Crosby Road to Morrocco style buddy picture.

  • Seriously? You're telling me that the execs at Disney looked at the relative success of the "action/adventure" Pirates of the Carribbean movie and the "wacky family comedy" Haunted Mansion movie, and decided to go the the "wacky family comedy" route for Jungle Cruise? Have they learned nothing?

  • i think  Tim Allen should be in these movie.I think Tim Allen is a way better actor than Tom Hank's tim allen is good so i believe that the movie The Jungle Cruise should have tim allen.

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