LeBron James is the most decorated player of his generation and one of the greatest to ever play the game. For the better part of 16 seasons, James has occupied the NBA’s main stage, as the brightest star, operating in a social stratosphere reserved for the game’s transcendent few. The James name extends beyond sneakers and jerseys; he leveraged his popularity and influence to create a brand that seems, by design, to be “all-encompassing.” James is building schools, negotiating contracts, and producing movies. LeBron and company have never been afraid to buck the trend, which is why I couldn’t believe it when he signed on to star and produce “Space Jam 2”, the sequel to Michael Jordan’s quintessential basketball classic. Here are some reasons why I think Space Jam 2 is a bad idea.
The genre is dead
The ’90s were a great time up to grow up if you were a sports fan. The era produced notable box office hits such as:
The Sandlot (1993)
Rookie of the Year (1993)
The Mighty Ducks (1992)
Angels in the Outfield (1994)
Air Bud (1997)
I’ll get some grief for leaving some other seminal youth-sports films off of this shortlist, but that only strengthens my argument. Timing is everything; if the past ten years have been the Golden Era for comic book films; the ’90s were the golden era for sports storytelling. Studios have tried to recapture past glory with sequels to many of these classics to no avail. 2018’s “Uncle Drew” with all of its star power and promotion debuted at a paltry #4 at the box office, and though the film was a financial success, it was a critical disaster.
The kids don’t care about the Looney Tunes brand
The latest Looney Tunes entry, 2003’s “Looney Tunes: Back in Action” grossed 68 million dollars on an 80 million dollar budget. In this age of accessibility, the Looney Tune brand has become an antiquated remnant of syndicated television. There was a time where Looney Tunes re-runs ran through all hours of the day, early mornings, late at night. Warner Brothers owned a television network that promoted and produced Looney Tunes content. If you over the age of 30, your more likely care about Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck then your kids do.
Space Jam was a product of the time
Space Jam was made in a time before 24-hour sports news coverage entered our lives and lifted the veil on the men behind the jerseys. It was a time when for better or worse, fans revered athletes as national heroes. Michael Jordan had sneakers, Saturday morning cartoon, and theme song. Jordan transformed from a basketball savant into a cultural icon. Space Jam debuted on the heels of Jordan’s first three-peat and subsequent retirement, which created even more drama. The stories of the pickup games on set are the stuff of legend, the cast was iconic, and the soundtrack produced the iconic R.Kelly track “I Believe I Can Fly”. It was a perfect convergence of sports and entertainment.