Malcolm D. Lee is taking over Space Jam 2. Deadline reports that director Terence Nance (Random Acts of Flyness) is off the project over creative differences. However, Lee is an exciting choice for the project having a long track record of success including 2017’s box office smash Girls Trip as well as the successful Night School.
There are still no details yet on what Space Jam 2 is supposed to be, although I assume Lee and the studio are on the same page. The 1996 original saw Michael Jordan teaming up with Looney Tunes characters to win a match against space aliens. LeBron James is shepherding this sequel alongside Ryan Coogler, Duncan Henderson, Maverick Carter, Justin Lin, Sev Ohanian, and Jamal Henderson. James will also star in the movie alongside Don Cheadle.
While I don’t have any personal connection to the original Space Jam (I prefer the Looney Tunes when they’re in their own adventures like Back in Action), the 1996 movie has a lot of fans, and I’m sure there’s a lot of pressure to do right by them while also making something that appeals to today’s audiences. Keep in mind that sports movies for kids were a staple of the 90s from The Sandlot to The Mighty Ducks to Rookie of the Year. That kind of movie doesn’t really exist anymore, and it’s closest basis for comparison, last year’s Uncle Drew, only made $46 million worldwide.
There’s also the question of whether or not there’s affinity for Looney Tunes characters for today’s younger generation. I was able to grow up with Looney Tunes because they were a staple on Nick at Nite. But the less Warner Bros. does with the character, the less recognizable they become even though I’m sure anyone over the age of 30 could tell you who Bugs Bunny is.
Space Jam 2 is set to open on July 16, 2021.