If you grew up in the 1990s, there's a good chance that Space Jam holds an extraordinary place in your heart. The basketball-themed team-up between Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes (GO TUNE SQUAD!) has become iconic in the two decades since it first hit theaters, and longtime fans have clamored for a sequel ever since. So what's taking so long? To answer that question, director Justin Lin recently addressed the Space Jam 2 delay at a Television Critics Association panel and explained that it's a combination of scheduling issues and making sure they get the story right, saying:
Warner Brothers has been great. I feel like it's been very precious. Everybody at the studio's been calling, 'Let's go, let's go' and I'm like [it's] not right yet. To me, the challenge is we have actors who are also professional athletes, so schedule is something that is tough. I've been really wanting to push that genre, but to do that you need the right amount of time. So there's a logistical challenge but also creatively, to do a sequel 20 years later with a new cast and also to be able to, in a relevant way, bring the Looney Tunes back. That's very important to me to do it right. I feel I've done nine different iterations already and we're going to keep going, but we're getting closer every day.
Doing a sequel to a classic film is always a challenge, and (more often than not) a sequel fails if not executed properly. Justin Lin appears to have recognized these potential pitfalls in his approach to Space Jam 2, and Warner Bros. has seemingly offered the Star Trek Beyond director the appropriate amount of time and leeway necessary to get the story right. Sequels need to feel earned and relevant to work with audiences, and that looks to be what he's shooting for with this one. The number of moving parts has made it a slow process, but it's still happening.
Of course, one of the most well-known elements of Space Jam 2's development is the fact that the movie will reportedly switch gears and move away from Michael Jordan as its central star -- which makes plenty of sense, given the passage of time between the two films. In his place, the film is eyeing NBA superstar LeBron James, who more than proved himself as a silver screen actor in 2015's Trainwreck alongside Bill Hader and Amy Schumer.
So what's the current status of LeBron James' involvement in the project? Justin Lin continued during his Television Critics Association panel (via SlashFilm) and explained that LeBron is still attached as the lead, but his status as an active basketball player (which wasn't the case for Jordan) makes him harder to lock down than Michael Jordan. Lin said:
It's a different challenge because he's a professional basketball player. He's not retired. When the first one happened, it was during a strike and Michael Jordan was retired. From what I've learned in film, you have to be passionate and when you're ready, you'll make it happen.
With all of that said, it looks like Space Jam 2 is still happening; everyone involved is just taking their time to make sure they get it right. We will bring you more updates related to the long-awaited sequel, but until then, take a glance at our 2017 movie premiere guide to see what's on the horizon for the rest of this year!