Is now a good time for Space Jam 2? Director of the 1996 original Joe Pytka sure doesn’t think so. Not because audiences aren’t hungry for it. But because the NBA just doesn’t have the same colorful cast of athletes that it did 20 years ago. Because of this, he thinks the movie is gearing up to be a big flop at the box office.
LeBron James was officially confirmed to be taking over for Michael Jordan last week in a sequel to Space Jam that will pair the pro basketball player up with the Looney Tunes All-Stars. The original movie earned $90 million at the domestic box office when it was released in November 1996. It would go onto pull in a healthy $230 million worldwide, opening against The Mirror Has Two Faces starring Barbara Streisand and Jeff Bridges. While it opened at #1 during its first weekend of release, it quickly fell to Star Trek: First Contact in the following weeks. But the movie would prove to be a giant hit on VHS.
Reboots and remakes are a lofty proposition anymore for studios. And as of late, as evidenced by the Ghostbusters redo, fans are starting to fight back. But proper sequels to long standing franchises such as Jurassic World and Star Wars: The Force Awakens are pulling in big bucks at the box office. This live-action/animation venture will be a true follow-up that brings all of the original cartoon characters back. Only the humans will be different. And herein lies the problem, according to Pytka. Speaking with THR, the original director had this to say about revamping the franchise.
“Don’t do it. It’s Doomed. Michael Jordan was the biggest star on the planet. When we did Space Jam, there was a perfect storm of players and ex-players available – Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing. They all had a persona that complemented the film. There are none around like that now.”
Michael Jordan was considered the greatest basketball player of all time when he played himself in the original Space Jam at just 33-years-old. And while not an actor by trade, he proved to have a lot of chemistry with his Hollywood icons Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and Sylvester the Cat. LeBron James, who is now 31, will be roughly around the same age as Jordon when he straps on his Air Jordans to battle another basketball invasion from outer space. The movie will have Fast & Furious and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin at the helm.
Another problem with Space Jam 2 is that, while he proved to be a good comic foil against Bill Hader in last summer’s romantic comedy Trainwreck, LeBron James is not at the same level as Michael Jordan was way back in 1996. And some believe his ball playing has already been eclipsed by Steph Curry. Add that to the fact that Space Jam won’t hit theaters for at the very least 2 years. Of course, claiming the movie is doomed is just one man’s opinion. The idea of Space Jam 2 has been a hot topic on social media. And fans have made it clear that they want the movie. Will it be the same kind of blockbuster success as the original? We’ll have to wait and see.