It didn’t do well with critics or fans of classic animation but 1996’s Space Jam, in which classic cartoon characters from Warner Brothers stable such as Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck teamed up with basketball legend Michael Jordan to play some hoops against alien invaders, made a lot of money for the studio, somewhere in the vicinity of $230 million worldwide at the box office. So after all these years, Warners has decided it is time for a sequel, but for Space Jam 2, Bugs and friends will be teaming up with current basketball star LeBron James.
Deadline is reporting that the studio currently has the sequel in development with an eye towards having James co-headline and have recently hired brothers Chris and Willie Ebersol to lead things. Chris will produce through his The Company production shingle with Willie writing. Neither have any real feature film experience, which on a project as technically demanding as this could be does not bode well to my mind. The brothers are the sons of Dick Ebersol, the longtime NBC sports executive who also served as the executive producer of Saturday Night Live from 1981 to 1985 after show creator Lorne Michaels temporarily left.
It’s not known how long exactly how long this idea has been kicking around the studio, but Bleeding Cool points to a 2012 tweet from James that may have served as an impetus for the project.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) August 26, 2012
Did a development exec/basketball fan see that and the wheels started turning? Possibly. And I think films have been started for even lesser reasons, though no examples spring readily to mind.
I have to ask, outside of just being able to sell this as a kid’s movie, has there been any real desire from audiences for a Space Jam sequel specifically. The title has never come up in discussions with friends who have children when we talk about what they’re watching. I am sure that there is a certain segment of the population that does remember the film fondly from their youth, but has there ever been a clamoring from them, or anyone else for that matter, for a follow up?
As much as I love the Warner Brothers animated characters, I have been dismayed over how they’ve been treated by the studio over the last couple of decades. If this is the indication of how things are going behind the scenes at the studio in regards as to what to do with them, than I don’t see that disappointment going away any time soon.