Posted on Wednesday, November 16th, 2016 by Ethan Anderton
This week marks the 20th anniversary of Space Jam, a movie that brings about all sorts of nostalgic memories for children of the 90s. As someone who enjoyed the film growing up, I can’t say that it has aged well, and despite the superstar status of Michael Jordan, he wasn’t exactly the most charismatic actor to put up alongside Bugs Bunny and some of the most iconic cartoons of all time.
But still, Space Jam has plenty of fans, and with the anniversary hitting this week, several outlets spoke to director Joe Pytka this week, and he revealed that director Spike Lee was almost part of the development of the original movie during the screenwriting phase. In addition, he mentioned one abandoned plan for a sequel involving another iconic athlete: Tiger Woods. And for everyone who is either excited or upset about the developing Space Jam 2, the director has some thoughts about that as well.
First up, Pytka explained to Entertainment Weekly that Spike Lee was almost involved in writing the final draft, but the studio wasn’t having it:
“Spike Lee is a friend of mine and he approached me to do a polish on the script. I thought that Spike would have added some stuff that would have been cooler, but Warner Bros. didn’t want to deal with him because of their issues with him when they did Malcolm X together. Remember, Spike got his friends to put money into finishing Malcolm X and the corporation hated the fact that he did that.”
Pytka certainly doesn’t have any love for the studio system, and that’s actually the reason he gives for not having made another movie since Space Jam, though he does still work on commercials and documentaries occasionally. It’s not as if he’s a hack either since he’s been given the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Television 2016 and received several nominations and awards from the guild. Perhaps his distaste for the studio system is part of the reason Space Jam 2 never got off the ground after the success of the original.
The director explained to Complex that he was once involved in development for a sequel, but only for a brief time, “At one point a long time back, I was called in to look at a script for Space Jam 2 and Tiger Woods was written into that. It never came to be. It was a strange script. But Tiger was part of it.” In another interview with a YouTube user named Mr. Wavvy, Pytka said there was also a small part for Michael Jordan to return as well. But again, it just never came together.
Warner Bros. should probably be happy a Space Jam sequel with Tiger Woods didn’t work out. While Pytka explained it was another “weird space thing,” I can’t imagine golf being as exciting as basketball. But in addition, Tiger Woods ended up not being all that great of a role model after some of his personal choices hit the tabloids.
But here we are 20 years later, and there’s supposed to be a Space Jam 2 with LeBron James in the lead role and Justin Lin directing. So what does Joe Pytka think about that? Well, not only does he not see the appeal anymore, but he doesn’t believe that it can be done because there is no longer an athlete like Michael Jordan out there anymore. He tells EW:
“When they talk about making the new movie, god bless them, because they don’t have Michael anymore. Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes, they got rejuvenated because of Michael. There will never be another Michael Jordan. There’s only been two athletes with that kind of charisma: Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali.”
When this topic was brought up in Mr. Wavvy’s interview, he throws a little more shade at LeBron James:
“LeBron is a terrific athlete, but would Michael ever play a small part in another movie? I don’t think so. He’s a star. LeBron played a supporting role in another movie, and sort of forgettable, right? I worked with Steph Curry last year when he was on top of the world. Steph Curry is a terrific little guy, but he’s not Michael Jordan. And neither is LeBron. And I don’t see any Michael Jordan on the horizon anytime soon.”
Pytka seems a little off-base here. Michael Jordan was never really looking to break into acting, which is why he only ever starred in one movie and never acted elsewhere. Meanwhile, LeBron James seems to have an interest in working on the side, even if it’s just as himself. A supporting role in a movie like Trainwreck, which is what Pytka is talking about, was a way to show that he can be funny and charismatic as an actor alongside seasoned comedy actors like Bill Hader and Amy Schumer. It was his role in that movie that actually made me think seeing him in a Space Jam sequel might not be so bad.
But Pytka apparently disagrees, and just to make sure that his stance was firm on Space Jam 2, he went on to say:
“I would never touch Space Jam 2 as a director. Even with the differences in technology and what we’ve learned, I would never begin to do a movie like that again. Sequels are horrible. The Godfather 2 is not as good as The Godfather 1. The first film is always the best one. The first Pirates movie is better than the rest of them. It’s diminishing returns. There are so many reasons not to do it, I don’t know what they’re thinking. If they were going to do it, they should have done it soon after they did Space Jam. But they did that other movie [Looney Tunes: Back in Action] which didn’t do well, did it?”
I will agree with Pytka that Space Jam 2 doesn’t seem like the best idea, and it seems more desperate to latch onto nostalgia than anything. But as Pytka smartly points out, this nostalgia is for something that was already created and beloved. Trying to recapture that in a new project is not easy, and may, in fact, be harder than trying to get audiences on board something more original. So we’ll see if Space Jam 2 can prove Pytka and the rest of us skeptics wrong…if it ever gets made.Cool Posts From Around the Web: