Malcolm D. Lee is replacing Terence Nance as Space Jam 2 director. After lingering in development for a number of years, the long-awaited followup to the 1990s touchstone finally gained traction in 2018, lining up a creative team that included Nance as helmsman and Ryan Coogler as producer and co-writer. Since then, things have been steadily progressing on Space Jam 2, with the film securing a July 2021 release date and production now underway.
Recently, fans learned which basketball stars would be accompanying LeBron James on the big screen; Space Jam 2 rounded out a stellar roster with the likes of Anthony Davis, Klay Thompson, Diana Taurasi, and others signing on. And just last week, Don Cheadle joined the cast in a mystery role. But while all seemed steady on the Space Jam 2 front, there's been a last-minute change behind-the-scenes.
According to Deadline, Lee is now calling the shots on Space Jam 2, taking over for Nance. From the sound of things, creative differences were to blame for the change. Though Space Jam 2 has been rolling the cameras for a few weeks, it's unknown if this development took place prior to shooting or in the midst of production.
It would have been interesting to see what Nance, whose credits include Random Acts of Flyness and The Oversimplification of Her Beauty, would have brought to the table on Space Jam 2. However, Lee reads as a suitable replacement; his filmography features a number of well-received studio comedies such as Girls Trip, Undercover Brother, and Barbershop: The Next Cut. While his most recent offering, last year's Night School, was widely panned, Lee overall has a solid track record and should be able to make Space Jam 2 into something fun and entertaining. And as his work on The Best Man film series has shown, Lee is more than capable of crafting well-rounded and compelling characters in a story that contains genuine heart and emotion. One can only hope that skill is apparent in Space Jam 2.
Changing directors at this stage in the game is fascinating, but makes sense in the overall grand scheme of things. Space Jam 2 is envisioned more as a reboot of the property, rather than a sequel to the original. And, of course, the intention here is for the film to be successful enough to spawn sequels. Warner Bros. and the Space Jam 2 producing team likely has a plan for how they want the series to unfold, and it clearly didn't align with Nance's vision. Rather than force something, they went with a different director, which will hopefully be beneficial for Space Jam 2.