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At long last, "Space Jam: A New Legacy" arrives in theaters and HBO Max on Friday.
The sequel comes 25 years after the original featuring Michael Jordan, with Los Angeles Lakers superstar LeBron James helming the franchise for the next generation. That's a long wait, and yet some might wonder if there could be a third movie some day.
Malcolm D. Lee, director of "Space Jam: A New Legacy" didn't rule out the possibility of another sequel to Entertainment Weekly, though he conceded finding a star for another movie would be tricky, to say nothing of a script and other production challenges.
"I never say never," New Legacy director Malcolm D. Lee tells EW of the idea of another follow-up. "It's all going to be about whether the fans respond to this positively. But I think the bar has been set so high in terms of the first one with this global iconic superstar in Michael Jordan, and now the same global iconic superstar in LeBron James, who transcends sports. Who is that next person to put into that universe? And then you've got to find a script and story that's good enough to not repeat what's been done but will capture the spirit of it and keep it going."
Lee had one idea for a star, though. It's probably not someone you'd expect:
"Dwayne Johnson would be an interesting choice," says the "Girls Trip" filmmaker. "It would be different. I'm not exactly sure what his skillset would be, maybe he goes back to wrestling. That might be interesting."
Dwayne Johnson, the college football player turned professional wrestler turned action star. That's quite a departure when your first two stars were globally recognized NBA superstars, and yet, you probably need a departure unless you want to wait another 25 years for the next Michael Jordan or LeBron James.
Is Dwayne Johnson really that bad a pick for 'Space Jam'?
As far as replacing Jordan for the new "Space Jam," James was the clear choice. He's the best player of his generation with a burgeoning media empire. There is no other player like him that "transcends sports," as Lee says, and that will likely be true for years.
If Warner Bros. wants another "Space Jam" in the near future without James, it would be hard to find the right star in basketball. Maybe looking to other sports like football (e.g. Tom Brady, Patrick Mahomes) could work, but it would still be risky, so it actually kinda makes sense Lee would pick out the star with the most athletic prowess rather than an athlete with the most star power.
Before appearing in movies like "Jumanji" and "The Fast and the Furious" franchise, Johnson was one of the biggest stars professional wrestling has ever seen. Before that, he was a defensive tackle at the University of Miami, backing up the likes of Warren Sapp for the Hurricanes. So he's at least got some athletic background, in case the Looney Tunes need him to, say, wrestle an alien or beat it in football.
That's not a satisfactory solution if you only see the "Space Jam" formula as "generational basketball star unites with the Looney Tunes to beat a malevolent entity in basketball," but it makes as much as sense as anything if a third movie is greenlit (and assuming James is one-and-done with the franchise).
Of course, maybe we should worry about "A New Legacy," which isn't exactly killing it with the critics, before figuring out the third movie.
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