Space Jam: A New Legacy is set to release in theaters worldwide and to stream on HBO Max on July 16th, 2021. This will serve as a sequel to the 1996 original and also the first time that audiences get to see the Looney Tunes on the big screen since Looney Tunes: Back in Action from 2003.
Obviously, the new LeBron James vehicle is going to have some big shoes to fill as a follow-up, especially when fans still have fond memories of the Michael Jordan version. While all of that nostalgia stems from what fans got to see in front of the camera, there are still a lot of fun Easter eggs and behind-the-scene nuggets that most fans still don’t know about the movie 25 years later.
10 The Concept Originated In A Nike Ad
Many fans may be right to criticize Space Jam for being a walking, talking advertisement for different brands since all of Michael Jordan’s endorsements get mentioned at some point in the movie, but those same fans shouldn’t forget that this whole movie spawned from a series of walking, talking advertisements starring Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny.
The Chicago Bull collaborated with the animated bunny in a series of Nike ads, often pitting them against Marvin the Martian and his alien henchmen. This would later form the basis for this movie’s premise.
9 Wayne Knight’s Character Could’ve Been Chevy Chase Or Michael J. Fox
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Joe Pytka revealed that before Wayne Knight was cast in the role of Stan, Pytka originally positioned for the part to be played by either Michael J. Fox or Chevy Chase, the latter of whom Pytka worked with for a Doritos commercial. The studio said no to both.
It is also worth noting that Jason Alexander from Seinfeld was also asked to fill this role, but turned it down. Lucky for Wayne Knight, he was next in line.
8 Space Jam Is The Reason Why Dennis Rodman Went To Chicago
During the same interview, Pytka claimed that he was the one to convince MJ to bring Dennis Rodman to the Chicago Bulls during the course of filming. Rodman, before he became Kim Jong-un’s best friend, was a vital rebounder in helping Jordan win his last three NBA Championships. At the time of filming Space Jam, he was on the San Antonio Spurs.
During a casual conversation off the set, Pytka asked Jordan, “Why haven’t you guys gone after Dennis Rodman?” To which Jordan claimed he was skeptical if he could play with a guy like Rodman. Pytka told MJ to reconsider since Rodman plays defense and “doesn’t get in your way.”
7 The Jordan Dome Was Built For Michael Jordan
Speaking of his basketball career, readers who saw his 2020 documentary mini-series The Last Dance know this already, but the studio gave Michael Jordan an actual basketball arena built for him on the set, something that was a perk incorporated into Jordan’s contract with Warner Bros.
The reason being so that he could keep his ball skills sharp, avoiding ring rust in-between filming. This arena was affectionately called The Jordan Dome and MJ often played hoops there with different NBA players, many of whom had cameos in Space Jam. Even Superman‘s Dean Cain stopped by to see the action!
6 Bugs Bunny Almost Had A Different Love Interest
Space Jam served as Lola Bunny’s debut, where she served as a love interest for Bugs Bunny, but before she was created, an entirely different bunny was planned to woo Bugs in the movie. Originally, Honey Bunny was set to make her on-screen debut.
Most Looney Tunes fans have never even heard of Honey Bunny because she never appeared on-screen. She was always a comics-exclusive property, but Space Jam would have been the first time she showed up on either a big or small screen. Somewhere along the planning process, Honey Bunny’s inclusion was scrapped altogether in favor of creating a completely new character named Lola Bunny.
5 The Final Scene With Bill Murray Was A Last-Minute Addition
To this day, Bill Murray is fondly remembered for his last-minute addition to the Tune Squad for the final act to help Michael Jordan’s team win. Murray was actually just as much of a late-minute addition in real life since this scene wasn’t written into the original script.
Trailing back to that aforementioned Entertainment Weekly interview, director Pytka said that originally, Murray was only meant to show up for the golf scene between himself, MJ, and Larry Bird and even that was tough enough to convince Murray to appear in. Pytka had to “beg” Murray to make that cameo. His role expanded once he became intrigued with the green screen process. “He sneaks over to [Ghostbusters director and Space Jam producer] Ivan Reitman, and all of a sudden he’s in the last scene,” Pytka explained. “That day we quickly wrote and shot something to set it up.”
4 The Original Looney Tunes Character Makes A Cameo
Similar to how Pepé Le Pew was removed from Space Jam 2 because the character looks problematic through more modern eyes, the first character created for Looney Tunes doesn’t make a major appearance in Space Jam for much of the same reason.
That character was Bosko, debuting in the first Looney Tunes cartoon, “Singin’ in the Bathtub,” and debuting in 1930. Due to the character being a blackface caricature, he obviously wasn’t going to fly in 1996. The best that the filmmakers could do to include him was a blink-and-you-miss-it scene where Bosko appears in a framed picture on the wall while Yosemite Sam confronts the aliens.
3 Chuck Jones Hated This Movie
Granted, the man who created the Looney Tunes themselves has every right to judge this property however he may please, but it’s still shocking to think that perhaps the most popular modern Looney Tunes property doesn’t have the original creator’s approval.
He was always extremely critical of the movie, particularly with the idea that Bugs Bunny would recruit anyone into one of his problems when in Jones’ mind, Bugs would mop up the villains himself with ease. He also felt like too many jokes in the movie strayed between inappropriate and inconsistent for children to watch.
2 There’s A Dig At Disney (But Not In The Way One May Think)
When making Space Jam, Warner Bros. just couldn’t help themselves but take a jab at company rival, Disney. The jab in question happens during a scene where before they all agree on calling their basketball squad the Tune Squad, Daffy Duck suggests “The Ducks.” In response, Bugs asks, “What kind of Mickey Mouse organization would name their team the Ducks?”
Walt Disney Pictures produced The Mighty Ducks and most fans may immediately assume that’s the reference, but actually, it’s a reference to Disney establishing their own NHL hockey team called the Anaheim Ducks three years before Space Jam’s release.
1 A Sequel Was Originally Planned For Jackie Chan
Although fans don’t get to see a new Space Jam until later this year, a sequel had been in the works since 1996 when the original had become a box office smash hit. Michael Jordan threw a monkey wrench into those plans when he chose not to star in a sequel, but Warner Bros. had other plans in mind.
One idea that echoed across the studio was Spy Jam, a sequel starring Jackie Chan. The project went undeveloped for unknown reasons, although the proposed movie’s spy elements stuck around when making Looney Tunes: Back in Action.
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