Space Jam, a live-action/animated film that saw NBA legend Michael Jordan join forces with Bugs Bunny and friends to save the Looney Tunes from aliens seeking to enslave them, was a commercial success when it hit theaters in 1996 (grossing $230 million worldwide in theaters) and was very much a part of many a kid-of-the-’90s’ childhood. Rumors of a Space Jam 2 being in development with the NBA star and current Cleveland Cavilers player LeBron James lined up to headline (taking Jordan’s old spot) have been circulating for a few years now, after James expressed an interest in making the sequel back in 2012.
In 2014, Deadline reported that Space Jam 2 with James was now formally in development, only for ESPN‘s Brian Windhorst (among others) to deny the story and effectively shut the claim down until further notice. Well, it would seem Deadline was on the right track after all, as we’re now hearing that a Space Jam sequel pairing James and the Looney Tunes is, in fact, being actively developed, with a writer and director already onboard.
THR is reporting that Space Jam 2 is still in the early stages of development, but that James is onboard to star. Justin Lin, whose previous directorial efforts include four of the seven Fast & Furious movies that’ve been made to date, is overseeing development of the Space Jam 2 script with screenwriter Andrew Dodge and may ultimately direct the film, too. Lin and Dodge are likewise collaborating on an untitled HBO TV drama (which Lin is producing with Jeremy Renner), though Lin won’t be available to fully turn his attention to the Space Jam sequel until he finishes post-production and participates in the promotional tour for this summer’s Star Trek Beyond, ahead of its July theatrical bow.
The concept for the original Space Jam in part sprung from a series of Nike commercials featuring Jordan and the Looney Tunes that were released back in the early ’90s. By comparison, news of a Space Jam sequel reflects Warner Bros. Pictures’ efforts to prioritize development of films based on established intellectual properties that it has the rights to, including the Looney Tunes. As such, WB is also working on a Speedy Gonzales animated movie and for years has attempted to get a live-action Acme film off the ground. Space Jam 2 may be the most appealing Looney Tunes-related project to WB studio heads though, as it has crossover appeal to both moviegoers and sports fans. News of this sequel also comes at a time when more 1990s properties are being revived for TV (see Twin Peaks on Showtime) and the big screen alike (see Jumanji starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson).
Lin, for his part, has delivered a number of crowd-pleasing installments in the Fast & Furious movie franchise and may add another hit to his resume with Star Trek Beyond, so there are far worse hands for Space Jam 2 to be in. Similarly, Dodge made his mark as a screenwriter with the generally well-received 2014 Jason Bateman comedy Bad Words (which Bateman also directed), while even James left a good impression on many filmgoers when he played “himself” in Judd Apatow and Amy Schumer’s 2015 comedy, Trainwreck. Who knows – perhaps Space Jam 2 will actually turn out to be not only an entertaining movie on its own, but a triumphant return to the big screen for the Looney Tunes after the 2003 box office dud Looney Tunes: Back in Action.
We’ll bring you more information on Space Jam 2 as it becomes available.
“Space Jam” header artwork via SB Nation