It took lots of new-fashioned digital magic to make Disney's old-fashioned period adventure Jungle Cruise. For evidence, check out this exclusive pre-VFX deleted scene from the Jaume Collet-Serra-directed film, which pairs Dwayne Johnson and Emily Blunt as odd-couple explorers who embark on a perilous mission along the Amazon River. Along the way, this bickering duo (who are equally adept at bickering in real life) discovers new dangers, new allies... and a newfound attraction to each other. (Watch the scene above.)
That attraction is also on display in this excised sequence, which finds Johnson's riverboat captain, Frank Wolff, preparing morning tea for Lily (Blunt) as they near the end of their journey — and the final hours of their time together. Nervous about what comes next, Frank confides in his best friend in the world: his pet jaguar, Proxima. The big cat looks on as the rugged adventurer shows some rare vulnerability in the face of saying goodbye to the passenger he's come to respect and maybe even love.
But Johnson isn't acting opposite a real jaguar, of course. (Though we bet the Rock could tame any big cat.) Instead, Proxima was brought to life via motion capture, played on set by stuntman Ben Jenkin, whose credits include Amazon's recent steaming hit The Tomorrow War, as well as Godzilla vs. Kong and Birds of Prey. You can see Jenkin in his Proxima "costume" in select shots of the deleted scene, providing movement and facial reactions that the animators would use as reference in bringing the final version of the character to life.
The sequence also showcases some of the other intense VFX work that went into Jungle Cruise, from the water tank that doubled as the Amazon River to the blue screens that surrounded Frank's ship at all times. On the other hand, Blunt and Johnson didn't require any digital assists for their performances. That palpable chemistry between them is just old-fashioned movie magic.
Jungle Cruise is currently streaming on Disney+ as a Premier Access title; the movie premieres Aug. 31 on all major digital platforms and arrives on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD on Nov. 16.