Angels and ministers of grace, rejoice...after 20 years, we are finally getting the Space Jam sequel that we so richly deserve. The new Looney Tunes/basketball/sci-fi fusion film (a whole genre unto itself) is being developed by Justin Lin (Star Trek Beyond) and NBA star LeBron James. Though it may strike some people as odd that they are choosing this moment in time to return to the property, the new project is a truly odd move to one person in particular— that person being the original movie's director, Joe Pytka. He's gone on record as being against the new film before, and now he's double dribbling down.
In a new interview with Entertainment Weekly, Pytka spills the jam on all kinds of Space Jam-related items, such as how he got Michael Jordan to act, and also how he intended for director/writer Spike Lee to do a pass on the script. (Warner Bros. said no to the latter.) Perhaps the biggest revelation of all is Pytka's bafflement that a sequel is being developed.
“I think it’s ridiculous to try and make a different movie out of it,” he says, adding, “I can’t see it. I can’t imagine how it could be what that film was." It's not that he thinks of his original film as a masterpiece, because he doesn't. He also says, "...not that Space Jam is a great movie, but it had something that touched that period of time because of who those athletes were and it doesn’t exist anymore.”
Pytka follows this by saying that he himself was approached about helming a possible sequel a few years ago. Dwight Howard, the center for the Atlanta Hawks was interested, but Pytka turned it down. In his mind, the sequel would not have the "unprecedented global reach and appeal" of the first film's star. In other words, nobody has the star power of Michael Jordan.
“I’ve worked with LeBron and I’ve worked with Steph Curry, and as good a player as LeBron is and as good a player as Steph Curry is, they’re not Michael Jordan,” Pytka says. “We will never see another player like him. He was a transcendent figure, much like Muhammad Ali. He was beyond his sport. These guys aren’t.”
Tough talk, though he may not be wrong— would the original movie have worked at all without the star-ball quality of Michael Jordan? Everyone loves the Looney Tunes and most people enjoy Wayne "We've got Dodgson here!" Knight (Jurassic Park), but could Bugs and company have survived the onslaught of the Monstars without the power of #23?
Space Jam 2 is currently in development.