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LeBron James Reportedly to Star in 'Space Jam' Sequel

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James waits on the bench before the first half in Game 4 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Detroit Pistons, Sunday, April 24, 2016 in Auburn Hills, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
Carlos Osorio/Associated Press
Tyler ConwayFeatured ColumnistMay 2, 2016

The long-rumored but never confirmed Space Jam sequel, starring LeBron James, is reportedly on its way.

According to Rebecca Ford of the Hollywood Reporter, Justin Lin, who has directed Star Trek Beyond and four films in the Fast and the Furious series, has signed on as the project's director and will co-write the screenplay with Andrew Dodge and Alfredo Botello. Variety's Justin Kroll confirmed the report that James is slated to star.

However, Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com reported that "no deal is in place," citing sources. Windhorst added that a deal may happen "at some point, but not as of yet."

A second Space Jam movie has been talked about at Warner Bros. for years. The company, which produced the original 1996 hit, has long targeted the four-time MVP as the project's star. James, whose camp denied initial reports that he wanted to be part of the sequel, per Windhorst, signed a multimedia deal with Warner Bros. last August.

While it wasn't confirmed the movie was part of the deal, James strongly hinted he hoped to revive the Space Jam franchise.

"We're definitely missing Bugs and Daffy and Tasmanian Devil and every last one of them, so hopefully we can do some great things," James said, per Scott Stump of Today.

As recently as March, the project seemed to be at a standstill. Maverick Carter, James' business partner and confidant, told Cleveland.com's Joe Vardon that Space Jam 2 hadn't been discussed "in detail." Carter also said the project, if it did get off the ground, would not film this summer because of James' schedule. After the Cavaliers finish their playoff push, James is expected to be part of Team USA at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

"It'd be crazy not to say that it's something on the radar; it's super on the radar, but it's not something we have any news on," Jamal Henderson, president of James' SpringHill Entertainment media company, told Vardon. "There's no sort of start on it."

The original Space Jam, of course, starred Michael Jordan and centered its story on his first retirement. While not critically beloved, Space Jam was a box-office smash and a staple in the home of every child of that generation with even a mild interest in basketball. It's been viewed in some circles as an untouchable classic—and multiple outlets have implored James to back away from the project.

For better or worse, it now appears the project is going full steam ahead. Lin's Fast and Furious and Star Trek bona fides make him a huge choice at director, but the real job will be the screenplay, which will have to capture the irreverent spirit of the first film.

If not, Space Jam 2 will face the scorn of every child who shed a tear as Jordan flew like an eagle to lead a Looney Tunes victory. No pressure.

 

Follow Tyler Conway (@jtylerconway) on Twitter.

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