Then today, a funny thing happened on The Internet: Deadline reported that someone at Warner Bros. had decided to actually go an make this movie: A 20 years later sequel to “SPACE JAM” – a movie adapted from a sneaker ad-campaign about Michael Jordan playing basketball with The Looney Tunes which, in an act of singular strangeness, actually tries to be a semi-dramatic “What If?” take on Jordan’s return to the NBA following his shocking 1993 retirement to play minor-league baseball in reaction to the murder of his father (the film essentially posits that battling aliens alongside Bugs Bunny was the push Jordan needed to rekindle his lost passion for basketball) – with LeBron James (presumably) becoming the new human leader of The ToonStars.
And then Twitter. Went. APESHIT.
Well, LeBron’s people have already denied it – so it’s probably not real. But the sudden explosion of excitement on social media means it probably could be in the near future. It would not surprise me if Warner Bros. were looking to “reboot” the “SPACE JAM” branding (say, maybe a cartoon-basketball movie without a human guest star) as a way to turn the Looney Tunes mega-marketable again and floated this “leak” as a way to do test the waters. If so, consider that test a success – it seems pretty goddamn clear that if Warners was to release “SPACE JAM 2” in the near future, they’d have the attention of more starry-eyed 90s Kids than a Buzzfeed click-gallery of cats belonging to the rediscovered castmembers of “HEY DUDE!” reacting a Power Rangers reunion.
“SPACE JAM” is one of those movies that works as a cultural dividing-line between Gen-Xers and Millenials. In my own circles, it’s really only ever spoken of as a relic of that moment where Jordan probably could’ve run for President and as the low-point symbol of how Warner Bros. had gutted and drained Bugs and company of their original personalities to become empty marketing vessels. But there’s a younger audience for whom this was an unironic VHS touchstone – nothing makes me feel older than running into people who remember it as a good movie… except maybe when those same people are surprised to learn that “the baseball thing” actually happened.
To be honest, the only part of this I could actually not imagine really happening is LeBron being in it. Unlike MJ, he’s largely failed to parlay his on the court success into the same kind of self-marketing machine. Jordan was, at the time, every bit as much of a cartoon-character (off the court) as the ToonStars were, which is why the movie worked. If they did do another one of these, I’d expect it to be just the cartoons – maybe rangle Jordan for a cameo, since he really will do just about anything.