After years of rumors and stalled proposals, a sequel to the 1996 Michael Jordan-meets-Looney Tunes film “Space Jam” has finally been greenlit. Taking the long-retired Jordan’s place is current basketball mega-star LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Directing the film and co-writing the script is Justin Lin, who directed four of the “Fast and the Furious” films (including “Fast & Furious 6”) and this summer’s “Star Trek Beyond.”
While the original film was a bit of 90s nostalgia (even if a so-so, heavily hyped film), a lot has changed since 20 years ago. A few items crossing my mind:
- Basketball’s popularity has dropped since Michael Jordan’s heyday. These days, the public would probably be way more excited about the Looney Tunes teaming up with a current or recent NFL star (Aaron Rodgers? Cam Newton? Recently-retired Peyton Manning?) to play football, which is now the nation’s most popular sport.
- LeBron James is an excellent basketball player, but from what I’ve seen, I’m not sure if he’s as charismatic as Jordan.
- Will the film be a mix of live-action and 2D animation (like “Space Jam” and “Looney Tunes: Back in Action”), or be all CGI animated?
- Will the Looney Tunes still be shown as living underneath the parking lot of a Piggly Wiggly that leads to some alternate universe (or whatever)? I’d still prefer if they used or name-dropped Acme Acres (from “Tiny Toon Adventures”).
- Will Lola have her original (if flat) “don’t call me ‘doll’” personality, or her more recent “Looney Tunes Show” ditzy personality?
- Similarly, do we get the ditzy, crazy Daffy, the greedy egotistical Daffy, or a mix of the two?
- Who will the villains of this film be, given the little aliens that turned into the Mon-Stars reformed by the end of the original? Does Swackhammer (their boss) come back with a new batch of Mon-Stars (parodying current NBA players)?
- How much screen time will the Looney Tunes actually get? One criticism of the original by some (mainly animation fans) was Jordan feeling favored over Bugs and company.
- What will the merchandising campaign be like? Will there be some new DVD/Blu-Ray/digital video releases of vintage and/or recent Looney Tunes material?
- Will kids want to see this film? While (last I checked) “Wabbit” is doing OK for Cartoon Network, the Looney Tunes unfortunately aren’t as prominent on TV as they were in the 90s.
I suppose we’ll see how things turn out. While reliant on nostalgia, Warner Bros. could use a successful film that makes use of their existing character library. Time Warner’s current and upcoming franchise films mostly consist of a “Harry Potter” spinoff, a Batman-centered “Lego Movie” spinoff, a Tarzan movie, and some more kid-unfriendly, grimdark DC Comics superhero films. Meanwhile, their rivals Disney are making Scrooge McDuck-piles of money this year alone, with (so far) “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” “Zootopia,” “The Jungle Book,” and now “Captain America: Civil War.”
Finally, CollegeHumor’s (slightly NSFW but funny) parody of “Space Jam” with LeBron James in Michael Jordan’s place keeps coming to my mind about all of this.
How do you feel about “Space Jam 2?” Or the original “Space Jam?”