The sequel to 1996’s Space Jam has been stuck in development hell for quite some time. Over the past year or so though, Space Jam 2 has dribbled its way out and has finally started to come together by settling on a director, assembling a cast and landing an official release date. Now, in keeping with the sequel’s basketball-centered story and its bumpy history, Space Jam 2 is making a substitution with a shakeup on the director front.
Terence Nance, the creator, director and star of HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness, was attached to direct Space Jam 2 for Warner Bros. and LeBron James’ Springhill Entertainment. The ball has now been passed to Malcolm D. Lee, who will take over as director on Space Jam 2 according to Deadline. Terence Nance’s departure from Space Jam 2 was reportedly amicable, with the reason for the shakeup seemingly being that he and the studio/producers had different takes on the creative direction of the film.
Given that Space Jam 2 has squatter’s rights in development hell, you might think that this director shakeup would be another obstacle delaying this film from finally happening, but that doesn’t seem to be the case. Space Jam 2 is already in production, but it isn’t set to hit theaters until 2021. So the sequel doesn’t seem like it will be delayed in any way due to the director switch.
While Terence Nance brought youth and indie sensibilities with him to Space Jam 2, in Malcolm D. Lee, Warner Bros. gets a director with experience and a proven track record on the big screen. After his 1999 debut The Best Man, Malcolm D. Lee directed films like Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins, Soul Men and Barbershop: The Next Cut. More recently, Malcolm D. Lee directed the critically acclaimed and commercially successful Girls Trip, as well as the Kevin Hart film Night School.
Given his body of work, Malcolm D. Lee definitely has the feature film experience and the proven comedy chops to handle the slapsticky nature of the Looney Tunes characters if Space Jam 2 bears any resemblance to its predecessor. This, of course, isn’t the first director substitution that Space Jam 2 has had.
After development of a Space Jam sequel starring LeBron James began in 2014, Fast & Furious 6 director Justin Lin was attached to direct. He left the project last year to be replaced by Terence Nance, although he remains onboard as executive producer. Now Malcolm D. Lee takes over to make that last drive to the basket.
In addition to star LeBron James, Space Jam 2 stars Sonequa Martin-Green, NBA players including Anthony Davis and Klay Thompson, as well as WNBA legend Diana Taurasi. And just this past week, the sequel added actor Don Cheadle in an unspecified role.
Space Jam 2 opens in theaters on July 16, 2021. For movies arriving just a little bit sooner, check out our premiere guide.