Friday, August 14, 2015

Is 'The Jungle Movie' Finally Happening?

Concept art by Roger Luan
Lately some events have pointed towards a resurgence in the possibility that The Jungle Movie, a theatrical film meant to be the finale for Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold!, will finally be made. Considering that series creator, Craig Bartlett, is back at the animation studios working on a new series, Sky Rat, it would appear that for all intents and purposes things may be falling into place for the long awaited Hey Arnold! finale.
The map Arnold finds in his parents'  journal at the end of "The Journal"

To provide some background, The Jungle Movie was meant to be the only theatrical film for Hey Arnold! where Arnold and his friends would go on a journey to San Lorenzo to find his missing parents. However Nickelodeon opted to take the made-for-TV special, "Arnold Saves the Neighborhood", and convert it into the theatrical film, Hey Arnold! The Movie, instead which was released in 2002 and did not do well at the box office. Even though it had a poor performance, Nickelodeon continued to express interest in The Jungle Movie and encouraged Bartlett to produce a special one hour episode that would link into this second film. This special ended up being the episode, "The Journal", where Arnold finds his parents' journal detailing their adventures and lives up to the point where they mysteriously disappeared. At the end of the episode, Arnold discovers a map in the journal and excitedly runs into the apartment building to show his grandparents believing that this is the key to find his missing parents. Alas The Jungle Movie and Hey Arnold! were both subsequently cancelled by Nickelodeon in 2004 with many accepting "The Journal" as the canonical series finale. Even though the film was cancelled, Bartlett kept many details about the film secret in the event that he got the opportunity to make it. 


Official Nickelodeon comment on their page referencing The Jungle Movie.
That opportunity may have come based on recent rumblings and signs evident to sharp eyed fans. One of these was a recent comment made by Nickelodeon on their official Facebook page in response to fans asking them to bring back older shows. On a video Nickelodeon posted on their page titled "Mikey Moments: Turtles in Time", Nickelodeon wrote the following response to fans requesting older shows to be revived: "How about a Jungle Movie? ;)". You can see the original posting here with your own eyes. This simple statement caused a flurry of activity amongst long-time Hey Arnold! fans as the comment came from the official Nickelodeon account and directly referenced The Jungle Movie.
The Jungle Movie storyboards have been
removed from Raymie Muzquiz's website. 

Another indicator that The Jungle Movie may actually be happening can be seen on Raymie Muzquiz's website. Muzquiz, an animation director, had posted storyboards from The Jungle Movie on his website as part of his portfolio. However one quick visit to his website now shows that he has taken the storyboards down as when one clicks to view it, they are taken to a page that displays "Removed for Mysterious Reason!". This is an exciting development as it certainly points to The Jungle Movie being in development. Why else would production images such as storyboards be removed from the internet?

Combining the above occurrences with the fact that Bartlett is back at Nickelodeon and both creator and studio reportedly have continued interest in producing The Jungle Movie, we may very well see this much awaited film on our theater screens in the next several years. This is also an excellent time to produce the film due to the resurgence in popularity of 90's cartoons and the public's continued demand for the revitalization of these cartoons. All we can do now is wait and hope that we see an announcement about The Jungle Movie to make our speculation official. As long as Francesca Marie Smith reprises her role as Helga Pataki and Craig Bartlett helms the film, I'm totally on board. Here's hoping that Hey Arnold! finally gets the ending that it deserves.

Update November 27th:  Yep, It's coming!

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