May 2, 2016
'Space Jam' Sequel Starring LeBron James Finally Happening, Justin Lin Attached To Direct

The long-awaited Space Jam sequel is finally moving forward, according to reports. Fast & Furious director Justin Lin has signed on to direct Space Jam 2 starring LeBron James.

The Space Jam sequel was announced last year, with LeBron James set to star (as himself) alongside animated characters from the Looney Tunes universe. However, the project seemed doomed to the fires of development hell, where films wait to get made, languishing until finally the attached stars or creative team abandon them altogether. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the Space Jam sequel is definitely moving forward, with Justin Lin attached to direct and Andrew Dodge signed on to write the screenplay.

Justin Lin previously directed Fast & Furious 6 and the upcoming Star Trek: Beyond, reports THR. According to sources close to the development of Space Jam 2, the film is still in early development stages – no chance of a trailer anytime soon – but they're making progress, laying the foundation for the Space Jam sequel.

Space Jam sequel rumors have been swirling online since the early days of AOL, but last July, LeBron James signed a deal with Warner Bros., leading fans to speculate that Space Jam 2 might be on the way. The head of SpringHill Studios, Jamal Henderson, confirmed that a sequel to the 1996 hit was on the way, but earlier this year, he stated it wasn't going anywhere anytime soon.

"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. There's no sort of start on it," Henderson said.

A hallmark of the 90s, the original Space Jam famously featured Michael Jordan alongside animated characters from the Looney Tunes world in what was, at the time, a remarkable feat of special effects. Jordan was abducted by the Looney Tunes characters and helped them play a game of basketball against a group of aliens who threatened the freedom of the Looney Tunes gang themselves.

The original Space Jam became a massive hit, raking in around $230 million worldwide. Given the nostalgia many fans still feel for the original film, it's not unlikely that Space Jam 2 will be a big hit at the box office. Director Justin Lin is familiar with big summer blockbuster films like Fast & Furious 3 through Fast & Furious 6 and the upcoming Star Trek Beyond.

Justin Lin and Andrew Dodge being brought on board the Space Jam sequel may be in part due to LeBron James' appearance in last summer's Trainwreck starring Amy Schumer. LeBron received widespread praise from critics for his performance.

IO9 cautions, however, that the original Space Jam film doesn't exactly stand up to the test of time. What were spectacular visual effects back in 1996 don't really hold up to today's standards, even through the lens of nostalgia. The original Space Jam was a film that pioneered the use of a "digital backlot," and the production was shot almost entirely on green screen with actors in green ninja suits representing the Looney Tunes characters in pre-production shots.

CGI and digital backlots have progressed by leaps and bounds since 1996, and the newest Space Jam could deliver a truly astounding visual spectacle, but it remains to be seen whether or not the film will live up to the memory of the original Space Jam.

Prior to signing on to direct Space Jam 2, Justin Lin directed three Fast & Furious films along with a few episodes of True Detective. Lin's Star Trek Beyond hits theaters this summer.

[Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images]