When Nickelodeon renewed Hey Arnold! for a fourth season in 1998, they also gave series creator Craig Bartlett a chance to develop two feature-length movies based on the show. One made directly for TV and video, called Arnold Saves the Neighborhood, and another slated for a theatrical release. Nickelodeon asked Bartlett to do "the biggest idea he could think of" for the theatrical film. After looking at the series, Bartlett decided to make the theatrical feature a follow-up to the episode "Parents Day", and have Arnold try to solve the question of what happened to his lost parents. This became known as Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie.
In 2000, executives at Nickelodeon and Paramount decided to give the made-for-TV movie Arnold Saves the Neighborhood a theatrical release instead, under the title of Hey Arnold! The Movie. Around this time, Nickelodeon also asked Craig to produce three more half-hours, two of which became the special one-hour "prequel" episode called "The Journal", which was planned to serve as a lead-in to the second movie. At the time these last episodes were being worked on, The Jungle Movie was in pre-production, and a number of storyboards, test footage and concept art were made. Craig Bartlett and his crew later left Nickelodeon when production on "The Journal" ended on December 7, 2001.
The first movie was released theatrically in 2002, but ended up being unsuccessful due to poor advertising and an unfortunate release date, and only grossed $15.2 million at worldwide box offices. This directly led to Paramount Pictures never green-lighting of The Jungle Movie and leaving the series in an unresolved cliffhanger ending. Most of the development materials were stored away at Nick when when production was cancelled.
Interlude Years and Fan Interest
Over the years, Craig Bartlett revealed several details about the movie (such as parts of the plot and the characters) through online chats and interviews, but refused to give out too many details, in case he someday got the chance to make it, though he never thought it would really happen. With these details, fans started making their own versions through fan art and fan fiction. Sometime in 2009, fans started campaigns and online petitions in an attempt to bring The Jungle Movie to fruition.
In 2011, Nickelodeon started a night block on the TeenNick channel called The 90s Are All That, featuring 90's shows. Reception was positive, and interest on Nick's old shows sparked. By 2012, interest on Hey Arnold! and its cancelled movie had risen. Fans' efforts and dedication also revived Bartlett's optimism for the project and caught the attention of Nickelodeon.
The highly positive reception to the TeenNick block sparked the interest of Nick executives, and they put Chris Viscardi, co-creator of The Adventures of Pete & Pete, in charge of mining the network's content library, and possibly bringing some of their older properties back for a new generation.
In 2013, Craig announced that he was now officially back at Nickelodeon working on a new show called Sky Rat, and still was interested in producing TJM. While Craig was pitching his ideas, he began talking with the Nick executives about the ways the characters from the old series continued to gain mentions in online forums, citing fan art and fan fiction to short films on YouTube. According to Viscardi, Bartlett came to the network with a "really clear and concise and beautiful continuation of the series" he wanted to tell. 
Signs of The Jungle Movie resuming production started popping up some time later. In a late 2014 interview on The Arun Mehta Show, Justin Shenkarow, the voice actor for Harold, hinted that discussions between Nickelodeon and Craig had been going on about possibly green-lighting the second movie. Craig confirmed later that year that he was indeed going into meetings with Nickelodeon executives.
In 2015, production storyboards from the cancelled movie posted in Raymie Muzquiz's website back in 2012 were taken down for a "Mysterious Reason". In August, the official Nickelodeon Facebook page made a reply that directly referenced The Jungle Movie, creating a spike of activity among Hey Arnold! fans. Following this, Nickelodeon, Bartlett, and some of the original voice actors began dropping hints about TJM through social media.
In September 2015, Nickelodeon officially announced that it was planning to reboot some of their older properties, and mentioned that a Hey Arnold! revival was "very much in the cards". Craig Bartlett confirmed that "they were working on it", but refused to give out details.
On November 23, Nickelodeon announced that they were developing a new Hey Arnold! TV movie which would pick up after the cliffhanger ending of the series and resolve unanswered plotlines; with Bartlett as a writer and executive producer. The new TV movie wasn't directly stated to be The Jungle Movie but details provided in the announcement accurately represented the film's original plot.
On March 1st, 2016, the day before Nick's 2016-2017 TV Upfront, it was announced that the new Arnold movie would be a two-part TV movie, and was set for a 2017 debut. Alongside the announcement, Nickelodeon Animation Studios released a concept drawn by Craig Bartlett.
The following day, Craig Bartlett announced that the 'two-part, two-hour' movie had been greenlit for production, and confirmed that the new TV movie was indeed the long-awaited Jungle Movie.
During Nickelodeon's panel in the 2016 San Diego Comic Con, Craig Bartlett said that it was long-fulfilled dream of his to finally make this movie, and that the fact that many employees at Nickelodeon were 90s Nick fans was crucial in bringing the series back.
When the movie was first announced in November 2015, the project was in its very beginning stages and the script at the time had just recently been greenlit. The movie later entered full-on production on March 2016, after the announcement made at Nick's TV Upfront. The main voice recording sessions and a table read with the cast were done around April/May, and storyboarding was done during the summer. By October, the movie was in the animatic stage, and the last rounds of voice recording were done in November. In January 2017, the movie's finalized materials and storyboards were sent to Korea for final animation. The film began post-production a few months later, when finalized animation began to come back.
Despite the 15-year long gap between production of The Journal and The Jungle Movie, many original crew members participated in the production of the movie, including composer Jim Lang, Raymie Muzquiz (co-director of the film back in 2000-2001) and storyboard artist Steve Lowtwait. 19 original voice actors from the series also returned for the movie, though not all of them played their original roles. Other characters had their voice actors replaced, since their original actors were too old or had passed away.
The materials from the cancelled project were brought out of storage in 2016 after the movie was revived by Nickelodeon. However, Craig Bartlett decided not to use them and instead re-start from scratch, as many of his goals and objectives with the movie had changed over the last 15 years. While the new 2016 version of The Jungle Movie is different from the one Paramount cancelled in 2002; several ideas, sequences, and elements from the original were reused or modified to fit the new, re-written version of script. The movie was also written with the intention to answer every question fans have sent over the years, while also introducing the characters to a new generation of kids age 6-11, Nickelodeon’s core demographic.
The new movie features a slight redesign of the show’s characters, since Bartlett wanted it to have a fresh, new look while still respecting the canon of the original TV series. The movie was developed in a way that it could serve as a series finale and tie up loose ends. However, Craig also said that if the film was very successful, it could actually become a pilot for a new series.
Prior to the movie entering development in 2015, Craig Bartlett mentioned parts of the original movie plot in various online chats and interviews. However, when the film began production in 2016, the story was written from scratch, replacing this plot by a newer version that borrows elements from the original.
Arnold's name is revealed in the opening scene. Harvey comes to the door of the boarding house with a package for him and he signs his full name.
The whole class, who are now in the fifth grade, go to San Lorenzo in Central America after Arnold wins them an essay contest. However, he has his own secret agenda to go look for his parents with the map that he found at the end of the episode "The Journal".
Arnold meets the mysterious Green Eyed people, the people his parents were helping. When he was born, he silenced all of nature (the erupting volcano), which prompted the Green Eyes to believe that he is divine. The Green Eyes have designed a motif that is shaped like a football head in all their architecture. They are also impressed with Helga's ferocity. This makes the Green Eyes semi-worship Arnold and Helga. The Green Eyes also think very highly of Miles and Stella, because they’ve all saved each other’s lives before, many times.
La Sombra, a villain who was briefly seen in the episode "The Journal" is a big character of the movie, he is Miles and Stella's enemy. He is a mercenary treasure hunter and river pirate, who goes in disguise. La Sombra is after the Corazón, a fabulous jewel and a sacred relic of the Green Eyes, which can't be seen in the light of day.
Arnold finally takes the next step in his relationship with Helga. While in the first movie she confesses her love for him, but he dodges out of telling how he feels in return. In The Jungle Movie, he completes the conversation. She acts like she still hates him again, but after they "get together" they realize that they are meant for each other. In the end of the movie they share a short kiss (during a scene when they are in a hurry), but Gerald interrupts them. When they make a really lame excuse he says "Whatever you say". By that point, most of the characters in the movie would probably already notice what's going on between Arnold and Helga, and would start teasing them about it.
Characters that go to San Lorenzo
- Arnold Now eleven years old and entering to the sixth grade, he is on his quest to find answers to his parents' disappearance.
- Helga Since the first movie, she's acted like she hates Arnold again but that appears to change.
- Gerald He interrupts Arnold and Helga's kiss in the end of the movie, and after hearing their lame excuse he responds, "Whatever you say."
- Harold He does his usual bullying stuff with Stinky and Sid. "I'm the boss and I say we're doin' it!"
- Sid He tags along with Harold and Stinky.
- Stinky He tags along with Harold and Sid.
- Rhonda She totally freaks out in the jungle.
- Nadine For her, the jungle is like heaven. "There are 20,000 species of spider in San Lorenzo!"
- Brainy He helps Helga to get her act together, and is thrown overboard by her a couple of times. In the middle of the story, Helga is fed up and she gives up completely. However, Brainy kind of helps her back to life.
- Eugene He jinxes it up like crazy by getting allergic attacks, his legs puff up like balloons and he is nearly eaten by piranhas; among other misfortunes.
- Phoebe Her role is not known, but she is pictured in the concept art.
- Sheena She is one of the young girl students in Mr. Simmons' 5th grade class.
- Mr. Simmons He is now the fifth grade teacher of Arnold's class.
- Principal Wartz He tags along with the group because he always wanted to go to Central America.
- Miles He is Arnold's father who went missing in San Lorenzo 9 years ago. His whereabouts are unknown.
- Stella She is Arnold's mother and Miles' wife. She went with Miles to help the Green Eyes but also disappeared.
- Eduardo He is Miles and Stella's most trusted friend who witnessed Arnold's birth "silence all of nature" in "The Journal." In one of the sketches, it's suggested Eduardo drives a steam-powered riverboat.
- The Green-Eyed People They are the original and mysterious inhabitants of San Lorenzo.
- La Sombra He is an evil river pirate and treasure hunter; Miles and Stella's arch enemy.
- Big Patty Although confirmed by her voice actress to appear in the movie, her role in the movie is unknown and is debatable.
- Mason Vale Cotton - Arnold
- Benjamin Flores, Jr. - Gerald
- Francesca Marie Smith - Helga and Sheena
- Dan Castellaneta - Grandpa
- Tress MacNeille - Grandma
- Justin Shenkarow - Harold
- Olivia Hack - Rhonda
- Anndi L. McAfee - Phoebe
- Gavin Lewis - Eugene
- Aiden Lewandowski - Sid
- Jet Jurgensmeyer - Stinky
- Laya Hayes - Nadine
- Nicolas Cantu - Curly
- Dan Butler - Mr. Simmons
- Maurice LaMarche - Big Bob
- Kath Soucie - Miriam
- Nika Futterman - Olga
- Craig Bartlett - Miles
- Antoinette Stella - Stella
- Carlos Alazraqui - Eduardo
- Dom Irrera - Ernie
- Wally Wingert - Oskar, Dino Spumoni and Mr. Hyunh
- Danny Cooksey - Stoop Kid
- Danielle Judovits - Big Patty
- James Belushi - Coach Wittenberg
- Stephen Stanton - Pigeon Man
- Lane Toran - Additional voices
- Jamil Walker Smith - Additional voices
- Alfred Molina - La Sombra
Half of the children characters' voices were replaced due to the original kids actors having aged or retired from acting. The exceptions were Helga, Harold, Rhonda, Phoebe, Big Patty and Stoop Kid, since their actors were able to reprise their roles. Wally Wingert replaces Steve Viksten and Baoan Coleman, the former passed away from heart attack complications at the age of 53 back on June 23, 2014 and the latter retired from acting shortly after the first movie, with his current whereabouts being unknown. Stephen Stanton replaces Vincent Schiavelli, who passed away from lung cancer complications at the age of 57 on December 26, 2005. Toran Caudell and Jamil Walker Smith returned to provide additional voices.
Original Production Materials
Raymie Muzquiz Storyboards
In the storyboards, La Sombra is revealed, turning out to be the blue shirted river pirate shown in Roger Luan's original concept art. The scene starts with a monkey climbing over a long wall into the compound, with the text hinting to what happened in the previous scene. It pans into La Sombra's hut, where he has Arnold held captive.
Two of his thugs are also in the room. La Sombra instructs one of the thugs to open a plate of tasty-looking food, but Arnold ignores it. La Sombra persists, trying to get Arnold to tell him where the hidden city of the Green Eyes is, but Arnold again avoids the topic, arguing that if he knew that, he'd probably find his parents.
La Sombra grows angrier and orders his thugs to restrain Arnold. The same monkey from the opening scene follows in the background, watching the thugs capture Arnold and throw him in a storeroom. The map falls in after him. La Sombra explains how he thinks a good night's sleep might jog his memory. Plus, he'd hate to hurt Arnold's friends "on accident". Then the thugs close the door. Arnold runs to the door but it's locked.
Sometime in mid-2015, these storyboards were removed from Muzquiz's website, and replaced with a message saying "Removed for Mysterious Reason!". Craig Bartlett mentioned the following year that the sequence in Raymie's website would not be used in the new 2017 Jungle Movie.
In 2012, Vimeo user and Artist Brent Forrest posted a test clip for TJM on his account. The animation in this test footage is radically different from the artwork featured in the Hey Arnold! TV Series and also shows off some 3D effects, like the first movie.
The footage shows Miles and Stella on horseback chasing a masked La Sombra through the San Lorenzo jungle in the rain; referencing a scene that was shown in the episode "The Journal" when Eduardo tells the story of La Sombra stealing the Corazon from the Green Eyes.
In 2014, Craig Bartlett confirmed the footage to be genuine on his Facebook page, and that it was produced by his studio in 2001.
Concept Art, by Roger Luan
Rebooted Production Materials
Background Designs, by Jonathan Renoni
Crew and production images in 2017 Nickelodeon Animation yearbook
- Steve Lowtwait's last day working on the film was coincidentally on the day of the show's 20th anniversary.
- This will be the second Nickelodeon revival movie and the first one to be based off a Nicktoon.
- ↑ Interview With Hey Arnold's Craig Bartlett
- ↑ Don't worry: Nickelodeon will take good care of your beloved TV memories
- ↑ Nickelodeon Mulls Return of Classic Shows
- ↑ Hey Arnold! is coming back, and possibly Rugrats too
- ↑ ‘Hey Arnold’ TV Movie in Works as Nickelodeon Aims to Revive Classic Shows (EXCLUSIVE)
- ↑ Nickelodeon to Revive ‘Legends of the Hidden Temple’ as TV Movie (EXCLUSIVE)
- ↑ Hey Arnold: The Jungle Movie Greenlit at Nickelodeon, Series Creator Confirms
- ↑ Nickelodeon is making a Hey Arnold! movie, might bring back other classic series
- ↑ 
- ↑ Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold! 2017 Reboot Plot, Title Revealed
- ↑ Hey Arnold! movie will premiere on Nickelodeon next Thanksgiving
- ↑ Storyboards by co-director Raymie Muzquiz, from his official site.