Bad news to all the people (which, as far as I can tell, is all of Twitter) who’ve been clowning on the new Space Jam jerseys: this movie is going to come close to making a billion dollars and there’s nothing we can do about it — well, other than not going to see it, of course.
First, some context: the original Space Jam grossed $230,000,000 at the global box office back in 1996, which is about $380,000,000 when adjusted for inflation. And this was back in the 90s, when the NBA was a far less global game and the power of social media marketing was still over a decade away from existence. Not to mention the fact that Nike is also another quarter-century into their dominance, making the sneaker behemoth exponentially more influential than it was back then.
Then there’s the film itself, which based on what I’ve heard thus far, will include considerably more adult characters — Warner Bros’ owned characters such as Joker, Pennywise, Jim Carrey’s The Mask and the Wicked Witch of the West — therefore making the film more accessible to adults as well. Adults, mind you, who likely have some sort of nostalgic interest in the sequel to begin with. The inclusion of these characters suggests to me that the studio is aiming to make this iteration of Space Jam even more relatable to the entire family, something that the animated nature of Bugs Bunny and co. inherently capped.
Leaked Space Jam 2 images, and my hype has gone through the roof.
Pennywise, The Joker, The Mask, The Wicked Witch of the West all making appearances… Hell yeah, I'm down with this pic.twitter.com/JhiV5123tA
— Zac Vega (@ZaccaryVega) March 8, 2020
Granted, while Space Jam: A New Legacy, has less top-of-the-line basketball talent than the original (Klay Thompson, Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, and Kyle Kuzma isn’t necessarily a murder’s row of big names), it boasts the only name it needs: LeBron James. The fourth-most followed athlete on Instagram beyond soccer stars Neymar, Messi, and Ronaldo, LeBron is a global brand unto himself. The draw of Space Jam is not “how many famous athletes will pop up?” but instead “how many famous characters will pop up alongside LeBron?”. While I may not be a massive basketball guy, I am a big Batman guy, and seeing LeBron potentially posterize the Joker is simply something I have to see.
Will it be better than the original? Who knows. After all, Space Jam only boasts a 43% critics score and a 63% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s certainly possible that our generation’s appreciation for the film is largely rooted in an element of childhood nostalgia. It’s natural for us to be more critical of the LeBron-led sequel because we now possess the critical thinking skills of an adult. I probably saw Space Jam by the time I was five and I can promise you I wasn’t worried about the design of Jordan’s Tune Squad jersey. But it doesn’t matter how good something is anymore, all that matters is that it’s successful, and when it comes to Space Jam: A New Legacy, that success may be spelled with a B for billion.