One of the biggest sports films of the 90s starred the most famous basketball player of the 20th century, and one of the most famous cartoon characters ever. Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny shared the big screen in Space Jam, and 90s kids went wild.
And now it’s your turn to get excited: the long-rumoured sequel to the weirdly still-popular basketball movie is happening, with LeBron James as the main live-action player, HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness director Terence Nance helming the film, and Ryan Coogler, who wrote and directed the monster superhero hit, Black Panther, as producer.
“I loved his vision” for that movie, James told entertainment magazine The Hollywood Reporter.
“The Space Jam collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie,” James continued. “It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams. And I think Ryan did that for a lot of people.”
Production on the movie is scheduled to begin in 2019 during the NBA offseason, according to THR.
The 1996 Michael Jordan movie, inspired by a Nike ad campaign, was part-animation, part-live-action, and a gigantic commercial success; it ranks as the highest-grossing basketball movie of all time. While the critics were mostly negative in their reviews of the film, Space Jam earned US$230 million worldwide and associated merchandising generated another US$1 billion in retail sales.
Space Jam has endured and turned into a cultural phenomenon. People still wear Monstar jerseys, remix the movie’s title song and pore over its still-active website, a relic of a bygone internet era.
In 2015, James signed a deal with Warner Bros to develop movies and TV shows, and the company also filed new trademarks for Space Jam, kicking off intense speculation that James would be the new Jordan and Space Jam 2 was going to be a sure thing.
More reports in 2016 confirmed James as the star, with Justin Lin (of the Fast & Furious franchise fame) set to direct. But no deal had actually been made.
Meanwhile, Joe Pytka, the director of the original movie, said that no player, including James, was as big as Jordan and therefore a sequel wouldn’t work.
This news has made it official, though. Very soon, it will be time to slam.
While we wait for filming to start (said to be in next year's NBA off-season), here's a look back at some classic 90s technology, aka the 1996 Space Jam trailer.