Joe Pytka, the director of the 1996 film Space Jam, has some strong words in opposition to the newly proposed sequel. We recently reported that not only is LeBron James set to head up Space Jam 2, but that director Justin Lin is in talks to come onboard as the head coach; Andrew Dodge (Bad Words) is penning the script. Pytka thinks the Warner Bros. project should stop right there because the (NBA) stars simply have not aligned for the potential sequel.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the original Space Jam, it was a live-action/animation hybrid film that paired Michael Jordan and other notable professional basketball players with the Looney Tunes in a wacky space-sports adventure that tallied over $230 million at the worldwide box office. Pytka’s word of caution is based on the idea that James’ popularity has already been eclipsed by Steph Curry, and the film is, at least, still two years away from completion.
Here’s what Pytka had to say (via THR):
“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.”
Pytka has a point, though it’s not like all retired NBA players have up and disappeared. Sure, having Charles Barkley reprise his role (I find it hilarious that I even get to say those words) alongside possible newcomers Shaquille O’Neal, Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, and hell even Allen Iverson would be different, but could it be any worse than the original Space Jam? Could it possibly even be better?
Ivan Reitman, who was a producer on the original movie, said that every week “he’d have a meeting with Warners co-chairman Bob Daly, who would remind him that Looney Tunes characters were the ‘studio’s crown jewels — those were the words he’d use.'”
“The key was getting the tone to hold so it works for kids and adults. That was the line we were walking.”
Dodge, Lin, and James will be walking the same line, so is the sequel really any different? The players might have changed, but the Looney Tunes themselves will be just as recognizable as they ever were. And the technology to marry live-action with computer-generation has obviously made great strides forward in the 20 year since the last film, so even if the sequel is terribly plotted, at least it will look pretty. Now, it all comes down to cracking a decent story and drafting the right players to take the cinematic court while keeping the naysayers on the bench.
Is Space Jam 2 doomed, or will it be the best live-action/animated sports comedy of the 21st century? Let us know in the comments below!