Yesterday, Warner Bros.' live-action/animation hybrid Space Jam celebrated its 20th Anniversary, which comes on the heels of the long-awaited sequel Space Jam 2. Current NBA superstar LeBron James is attached to star in that sequel. Over the past few days, original Space Jam director Joe Pytka was doing press for the 20th Anniversary, and he revealed that there was almost an early version of the sequel that starred golfing legend Tiger Woods, which never came to pass. The filmmaker also made the surprising revelation that indie filmmaker Spike Lee almost worked on the script for the original Space Jam.
Back in August, video surfaced from a basketball camp where original Space Jam star and NBA legend Michael Jordan was asked who he thinks should take over for Space Jam 2. The basketball star replied that he'd choose Los Angeles Clippers star Blake Griffin as the lead, insetad of LeBron James. Joe Pytka spoke with Complex, revealing that he was involved in making a sequel at one point, which had Tiger Woods written into the story.
"When they talk about making the new movie, god bless them, because they don't have Michael anymore. Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes, they got rejuvenated because of Michael. There will never be another Michael Jordan. There's only been two athletes with that kind of charisma: Michael Jordan and Muhammad Ali. At one point a long time back, I was called in to look at a script for Space Jam 2 and Tiger Woods was written into that. It never came to be. It was a strange script. But Tiger was part of it."
He wouldn't elaborate about how Tiger Woods fit into the story, but you may recall that the director also said in an interview earlier this year that the Space Jam sequel was "doomed." The filmmaker said that none of the NBA players today have a persona that would compliment the film, like Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, Charles Barkley and Patrick Ewing. In a separate interview with Entertainment Weekly, Joe Pytka also teased that indie filmmaker Spike Lee almost came aboard to write the script, but it never happened because the studio still wasn't pleased with the director for how he finished Malcolm X.
"Spike Lee is a friend of mine and he approached me to do a polish on the script. I thought that Spike would have added some stuff that would have been cooler, but Warner Bros. didn't want to deal with him because of their issues with him when they did Malcolm X together. Remember, Spike got his friends to put money into finishing Malcolm X and the corporation hated the fact that he did that."
While Space Jam 2 may not have a green light yet, filmmaker Justin Lin entered talks to direct back in May, with Andrew Dodge (Bad Words) and Alfredo Botello (Hollywood Adventures) coming aboard to write the script. In yet another interview with YouTube channel Mr. Wavvy, Joe Pytka said that, despite how great of a player that current stars such as LeBron James and Steph Curry are, they just simply aren't Michael Jordan. Here's what he had to say, while stating that he would never come back to direct a Space Jam sequel.
"LeBron is a terrific athlete, but would Michael ever play a small part in another movie? I don't think so. He's a star. LeBron played a supporting role in another movie, and sort of forgettable, right? I worked with Steph Curry last year when he was on top of the world. Steph Curry is a terrific little guy, but he's not Michael Jordan. And neither is LeBron. And I don't see any Michael Jordan on the horizon anytime soon. I would never touch Space Jam 2 as a director. Even with the differences in technology and what we've learned, I would never begin to do a movie like that again. Sequels are horrible. The Godfather 2 is not as good as The Godfather 1. The first film is always the best one. The first Pirates movie is better than the rest of them. It's diminishing returns. There are so many reasons not to do it, I don't know what they're thinking. If they were going to do it, they should have done it soon after they did Space Jam. But they did that other movie (Looney Tunes: Back in Action) which didn't do well, did it?"
The original Space Jam centered on NBA legend Michael Jordan as himself, teaming up with a slew of Looney Tunes characters to defeat a team of aliens in a game of basketball, with the future of the human race on the line. Other NBA stars who appeared in the movie included Larry Bird, Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Mugsy Bogues, Vlade Divac, Larry Johnson and Alonzo Mourning, just to name a few. The supporting cast also included Wayne Knight, Theresa Randle and Bill Murray, who played himself. Joe Pytka hasn't directed a feature film since Space Jam, but he still does plenty of work on television, documentaries and commercials. He was given the DGA Lifetime Achievement Award in Television 2016.