The stars were aligning so well for Space Jam 2 that it was only a matter of time before some little hiccup got in the way. In 2018, it was reported that, at long last, LeBron James would star in a sequel to the 1996 Michael Jordan classic, with Terence Nance (Random Acts of Flyness) directing and Ryan Coogler producing. Stars! Aligned!
Now, enter hiccup: according to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. is struggling to pull in a supporting cast of N.B.A. stars because of their pesky competing sneaker contracts.
Some backstory: the original Space Jam was, for all intents and purposes, a Nike-sponsored movie. The film was inspired by a Nike Super Bowl commercial starring Jordan and Bugs Bunny; the shoe giant houses Air Jordan, and also has a lifetime deal (lifetime, as in for life!) with James. The problem is that other N.B.A. players also have shoe deals—but with other companies. For example, T.H.R. notes, Golden State Warriors champ Steph Curry has an Under Armour contract through 2024, while Houston Rockets player James Harden has an Adidas deal, which presumably takes them both off the list of eligible Space Jam candidates—even though both are the caliber of player one would expect to see in a movie like this alongside James.
Of course, there are other Nike-sponsored players that Warner Bros. could potentially tap, but even that possibility comes with its own set of difficulties. Kevin Durant, for example, has a Nike deal, but T.H.R. says he is reportedly focused on Hollywood projects of his own, such as the autobiographical Apple series Swagger (one of many forthcoming shows from the tech giant).
Then again: sources familiar with the script also told T.H.R. that assembling an all-star N.B.A. roster might not even be necessary in the end, because Coogler and Sev Ohanians (Searching) script will focus less on players and more on Jamess family arc. The cast, thus far, also includes Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery) as Jamess wife. No competing shoe deal here.
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