Justin Lin has proved that he knows how to handle a major franchise. He helped turn the Fast and the Furious franchise into the monster that it is now and, despite the box office not being what Paramount had hoped, he directed Star Trek Beyond, which many fans and critics absolutely loved. As such, he now has a couple of other big franchises on his plate with Space Jam 2 and the long-in-development Hot Wheels movie. He is still working on both movies and recently provided a pretty hefty update, but Lin is taking his time to make sure they're right.
Justin Lin spoke about the movies at TCA 2017 and Slashfilm was on hand to gather his comments on both Space Jam 2 and Hot Wheels. In both cases, the respective studios are allowing him to work his way and take the time to develop the projects until they are ready to shoot. Here's what he had to say about it.
"On both Space Jam and Hot Wheels, I have great partners. A lot of times now with these big tentpoles, everybody's trying to jam a movie in in a limited time. I feel like I'm too old for that. I want to make sure that we do everything right, so those two projects, with Legendary [on Hot Wheels] and Warner Bros. [on Space Jam 2] they've been great about saying, 'What do you need, how much time do you need? Let's keep getting it right.'"
Talking a little more about Space Jam 2, which is currently said to be eyeing LeBron James to star in the lead role like Michael Jordan did in the original movie, Justin Lin says that there is no shortage of athletes who want to be in the movie and that Warner Bros. is eager to get things going. But he simply doesn't feel that the long-awaited sequel is ready yet. He also seems to understand the pressure of bringing the Looney Tunes back to the big screen.
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"Warner Brothers has been great, I feel like it's been very precious. Everybody at the studio's been calling, 'Let's go, let's go' and I'm like [it's] not right yet. To me, the challenge is we have actors who are also professional athletes, so schedule is something that is tough. I've been really wanting to push that genre, but to do that you need the right amount of time. So there's a logistical challenge but also creatively, to do a sequel 20 years later with a new cast and also to be able to, in a relevant way, bring the Looney Tunes back. That's very important to me to do it right. I feel I've done nine different iterations already and we're going to keep going, but we're getting closer every day. There's one thing that I've learned, there are so many sports and Space Jam fans. I run into them and everybody's volunteering to be in the movie so I don't think it's going to be a problem. I feel like the studio's been great because I ask for a playground and the time to really explore and that's what we've been doing this whole time. It's a different challenge because he's a professional basketball player. He's not retired. When the first one happened, it was during a strike and Michael Jordan was retired. From what I've learned in film, you have to be passionate and when you're ready, you'll make it happen."
As much as Justin Lin seems to have the right approach to Space Jam 2, it doesn't sound like this is something we will see anytime soon. That is surely a bummer for fans, but doing a sequel more than twenty years after the original Space Jam does present its challenges. He seems to think it's better to get it right than to just get it done, which is probably the right way to handle this sort of thing.
When it comes to Hot Wheels, that is a movie that has been in development for a very long time but never managed to get off the ground. Justin Lin attached himself to the project last year and, given his work with the Fast and Furious franchise, he seems like a logical choice for it. While talking about the project he revealed his connection to the toys and, somewhat surprisingly, that Jeremy Renner (The Avengers) is apparently attached to star.
"For me, Fast and Furious is not just a car movie either. I have an eight-year-old who plays with Hot Wheels all the time. To me, it's amazing [to see] the therapeutic and healing properties of imagination. Those are themes I really want to explore through that because I had my own relationship with Hot Wheels when I was a kid and now I'm seeing it with my kid, so it is something I'm very excited about. I talk to Jeremy [Renner] all the time and technically, it's still in development. I'm one of his biggest fans and I signed on because we've been looking for stuff to work together and we still look for stuff to work together. It was just an opportunity at that time. It was actually getting to be really exciting but I also realized that's a whole other franchise universe. My connection to it is Jeremy and we're finding great things to hopefully work together. We're in touch. I love Jeremy."
Andrew Dodge (Bad Words) has been hired to pen the script for Space Jam 2 and Paul Attanasio (The Sum of All Fears) is credited with the most recent draft of Hot Wheels. We'll see which of these projects manages to get going first, but Justin Lin is a busy guy and it's entirely possible that he could just spend a good chunk of time developing them before moving onto something else. For now, both movies are moving right along, even if it is at a slow pace.