Space Jam

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Space Jam
Space jam.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoe Pytka
Produced by
Written by
Music byJames Newton Howard
CinematographyMichael Chapman
Edited bySheldon Kahn
Distributed byWarner Bros. Family Entertainment
Release date
  • November 15, 1996 (1996-11-15)
Running time
88 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$80 million[1]
Box office$230.4 million[2]

Space Jam is a 1996 American live-action/animated sports comedy film directed by Joe Pytka. Starring basketball player Michael Jordan,[3] the film depicts a fictionalized account of what happened between Jordan's initial retirement from the NBA in 1993 and his comeback in 1995, in which he is enlisted by Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck and the rest of the Looney Tunes characters to help them win a basketball match against a group of aliens who want to enslave them for their amusement park.

Released theatrically by Warner Bros. Family Entertainment on November 15, 1996,[4] Space Jam received mixed reviews from critics for its merits of combining Jordan and his profession with the Looney Tunes characters, while the live-action and animated mix especially the animated basketball scenes, Jordan's performance and faithful interpretations of the Looney Tunes were praised. The film was a box office success, opening at No. 1 in the North American box office and grossing over $230 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing basketball film of all time.

A sequel, titled Space Jam 2 and starring LeBron James, is scheduled for release on July 16, 2021.[5]


The movie starts as a young Michael Jordan shooting hoops late at night. His father tells him to go to sleep, but tells his father to shoot one more. The one shot impresses his father and lets him to shot more. Jordan tells his father that he wants to go to North Carolina to play in the championship then to the NBA. As he shoots more his father tells him to do to sleep. Before he goes young Michael Jordan goes for a dunk and cuts away to a compilation of Michael Jordan throughout his youth to college years.

In 1993, Michael Jordan announces his retirement from the NBA and professional basketball in order to follow his late father's career in baseball. Facing much less success, he is assigned a publicist/assistant, the bumbling Stan Podolak, to smooth the transition.

Elsewhere in outer space, an intergalactic amusement park named Moron Mountain is facing decline, its owner, Mr. Swackhammer, sends his diminutive minions, the Nerdlucks, to capture the Looney Tunes as new entertainment. They divebomb to the center of the earth, where the Looney Tunes' reality is hidden. Despite having powerful laser guns, the Nerdlucks are tricked into thinking that their prisoners have a chance to defend themselves, Bugs Bunny states that the challenge to decide their fates will be basketball as the Nerdlucks are too small to play. The Nerdlucks promptly steal the talents of NBA players Charles Barkley, Shawn Bradley, Patrick Ewing, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues, the sudden incapacity of the five men leads to worldwide panic that results in the NBA season ending early. They try to restore their skills through practice, hospitalization, therapy and prayer, but to no avail. To intimidate the Looney Tunes, the Nerdlucks absorb the talent in front of them, transforming into monsters twice as large as them with navy blue basketball uniforms to which Sylvester dubs them the Monstars. Bugs then realizes that they're going to need professional help.

While golfing with Bill Murray, Larry Bird and Stan, Jordan is suddenly sucked down a hole and into the Looney Tunes' world by Yosemite Sam's lasso. There, the Looney Tunes are all happy to see him, despite Jordan dismissing it as a dream. Bugs uses his usual comedy to make Jordan realize he's awake, he then explains the Tunes' dire situation to him and Jordan agrees to train them as he no longer plays basketball. However, right before he can start teaching them, the Monstars break into the gym to intimidate the Tunes further, when Jordan attempts to stand up to them, the Monstars use their talent and cartoon physics to turn Jordan into a ball and humiliate him. Deciding to play against the Monstars personally, Jordan sends Bugs and Daffy Duck to retrieve his basketball gear from his home. Stan spots Bugs and Daffy and follows them to the Tunes' world, reuniting with Jordan and joining their team, the Tune Squad. Another new recruit is Lola Bunny, a skilled player with whom Bugs is instantly smitten.

On the day of the match, the Monstars dominate the first half, sinking the Looney Tunes' morale. Stan overhears the Monstars tell Swackhammer how they gained their talent, and informs the Tune Squad. Bugs and Jordan rally the team and dominate the third quarter using old-school gags and Acme weaponry. During a timeout, Jordan raises the stakes with Swackhammer: a win by the Tune Squad would require the Monstars returning their stolen talents while a win by the Monstars would earn Swackhammer Jordan as a new attraction for his amusement park. To ensure victory, Swackhammer orders the Monstars to play rough, injuring the Tune Squad until only Jordan, Bugs, Daffy, Lola and Stan remain. Stan manages to score, but is literally flattened by the Monstars and removed from the court. The referee, Marvin the Martian, informs Jordan that without a fifth player, the Tune Squad will have to forfeit. Upon arriving and volunteering, Bill Murray explains that he asked his agent to get him there. In the final seconds of the game, Jordan gains the ball but is grabbed by the Monstars during a jump to the basket. Remembering that Bugs told him that cartoon physics apply to him, he extends his arm and scores the winning points, making the Tune Squad the winner of the match.

Seeing the Monstars get yelled at by Swackhammer, Jordan helps them realize that they only listened to him because they were smaller. With the Tunes watching with satisfactory smiles, Swackhammer is encased in a rocket by the Monstars and sent back to his amusement park. Giving up their stolen talent, the Nerdlucks are recruited into the Looney Tunes ensemble and drop off Jordan and a recovered Stan at Jordan's next baseball game. Later, Jordan and Stan visit the incapacitated basketball players and return their talent to which the players provoke a reluctant Jordan into participating in a three-on-three match. Two years later in 1995, Jordan returns to the Chicago Bulls to resume his basketball career.


Some of the film's live-action cast play fictional versions of themselves:[6]

NBA players Danny Ainge, Steve Kerr, Alonzo Mourning, Horace Grant, A.C. Green, Scottie Pippen, Charles Oakley, Luc Longley, Cedric Ceballos, Derek Harper, Vlade Divac, Brian Shaw, Jeff Malone, Bill Wennington, Anthony Miller, and Sharone Wright make cameo appearances in the film, as do coaches Del Harris and Paul Westphal. Broadcasters Ahmad Rashad and Jim Rome also appear while Dan Castellaneta and Patricia Heaton cameo as basketball fans.

Voice cast[edit]


The soundtrack sold enough albums to be certified as 6-times Platinum.[7] It also served as a high point for musical artist R. Kelly, whose song "I Believe I Can Fly" not only was a hit, but earned him two Grammy Awards.[8] Other tracks included a cover of Steve Miller Band's "Fly Like an Eagle" (by Seal), "Hit 'Em High (The Monstars' Anthem)" (by B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J, and Method Man), "Basketball Jones" (by Barry White & Chris Rock), "Pump up the Jam" (by Technotronic), "I Turn to You" (by All-4-One) and "For You I Will" (by Monica). The film's title song was performed by the Quad City DJ's.


Warner Bros. released Space Jam through its Family Entertainment division on November 15, 1996.

The film made its cable television premiere on TNT on March 14, 1999, while it made its network television premiere on ABC's The Wonderful World of Disney on November 14, 1999.[9]

Home media[edit]

Warner Home Video first released the film on VHS, LaserDisc and DVD on March 11, 1997. The VHS tape was reprinted and re-released through Warner Home Video's catalog promotions: The Warner Bros. 75th Anniversary Celebration (1998), Century Collection (1999), Century 2000 (2000) and Warner Spotlight (2001). The film was re-released on DVD on July 25, 2000. On October 28, 2003, the film was released as a 2-disc, special-edition DVD including newly made extras such as a commentary track and a featurette. On October 2, 2007, Space Jam for UMD Video for PSP was released. On November 6, 2007, Space Jam was featured as one of four films in Warner Home Video's 4-Film Favorites: Family Comedies collection DVD (the other three being Looney Tunes: Back in Action—which was released seven years after Space Jam, Osmosis Jones and Funky Monkey). On February 8, 2011, the first disc of the previous 2-disc edition was released by itself in a film-only edition DVD and on October 4, the film was released for the first time in widescreen HD on Blu-ray which, save for an hour of classic Looney Tunes shorts, ported over all the extras from the 2003 2-disc edition DVD. A double DVD and Blu-ray release, paired with Looney Tunes: Back in Action, was released on June 7, 2016.[10] On November 15, 2016, Warner Bros. released another Space Jam Blu-ray to commemorate the film's 20th anniversary.


Space Jam later expanded into a media franchise which includes comics, video games and merchandise. The Space Jam franchise is estimated to have generated $6 billion in total revenue.[11]


The film was adapted into a graphic novel drawn by Leonardo Batic.[12]

Video games[edit]

There was a licensed pinball game by Sega based on the film, a video game for the PlayStation, Sega Saturn and MS-DOS by Acclaim and a handheld LCD game by Tiger Electronics.[13]


Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a 43% approval rating based on 75 reviews, with an average rating of 5.32/10. The website's critics consensus reads, "While it's no slam dunk, Space Jam's silly, Looney Toons-laden slapstick and vivid animation will leave younger viewers satisfied – though accompanying adults may be more annoyed than entertained."[14] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 59 out of 100 based on 22 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[15] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A−" on an A+ to F scale.[16]

Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel of the Chicago Sun-Times and Chicago Tribune both gave Space Jam a thumbs up,[17] although Siskel's praise was more reserved.[18] In his review, Ebert gave the film three-and a-half stars and noted, "Space Jam is a happy marriage of good ideas—three films for the price of one, giving us a comic treatment of the career adventures of Michael Jordan, crossed with a Looney Tunes cartoon and some showbiz warfare. ... the result is delightful, a family movie in the best sense (which means the adults will enjoy it, too)."[17] Siskel focused much of his praise on Jordan's performance, saying, "He wisely accepted as a first movie a script that builds nicely on his genial personality in an assortment of TV ads. The sound bites are just a little longer."[18] Leonard Maltin also gave the film a positive review (three stars), stating that "Jordan is very engaging, the vintage characters perform admirably ... and the computer-generated special effects are a collective knockout."[19] Todd McCarthy of Variety praised the film for its humor as well as the Looney Tunes' antics and Jordan's acting.[20]

Although Janet Maslin of The New York Times criticized the film's animation, she later went on to say that the film is a "fond tribute to [the Looney Tunes characters'] past."[6] Conversely, Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune criticized some aspects of the film, stating, "...we don't get the co-stars' best stuff. Michael doesn't soar enough. The Looney Tunes don't pulverize us the way they did when Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng or Bob Clampett were in charge." Yet overall, he also liked the film, giving it 3 stars and saying: "Is it cute? Yes. Is it a crowd-pleaser? Yup. Is it classic? Nope. (Though it could have been.)"[21] In a dismissive review, TV Guide gave the film two stars and called it a "cynical attempt to cash in on the popularity of Warner Bros. cartoon characters and basketball player Michael Jordan, inspired by a Nike commercial."[22] Margaret A. McGurk of The Cincinnati Enquirer gave the film 2 1/2 stars, saying that "Technical spectacle amounts to nothing without a good story."[23]


In other media[edit]

The Monstars make a cameo in the Animaniacs and Pinky and the Brain episode "Star Warners". Jordan himself, who was a spokesman for MCI Communications before the film was made, would appear with the Looney Tunes characters (as his "Space Jam buddies") in several MCI commercials for several years after the film was released before MCI merged with WorldCom and subsequently Verizon Communications.[24] Bugs had previously appeared with Jordan as "Hare Jordan" in Nike ads for the Air Jordan VII and Air Jordan VIII.[25][26] In 2013, Yahoo! Screen released a parody of ESPN's 30 for 30 about the game shown in the film. The short dates the game as taking place on November 17, 1995, although Jordan's real-life return to basketball occurred on March 18.[27]


A sequel to Space Jam was planned as early as 1997. As development began, Space Jam 2 was going to involve a new basketball competition between the Looney Tunes and a new villain named Berserk-O!. Artist Bob Camp was tasked with designing Berserk-O! and his henchmen. Joe Pytka would have returned to direct and Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone signed on as the animation supervisors. However, Jordan did not agree to star in a sequel, and Warner Bros. eventually canceled plans for Space Jam 2.[28]

Several potential sequels, including Spy Jam with Jackie Chan, Race Jam with Jeff Gordon, a golf-centered film with Tiger Woods,[29][30] and Skate Jam with Tony Hawk were all discussed but never came to be.[31]

In February 2014, Warner Bros. officially announced development of a sequel that will star LeBron James.[32] In July 2015, James and his film studio, SpringHill Entertainment, signed a deal with Warner Bros. for television, film and digital content after receiving positive reviews for his role in Trainwreck.[33][34][35] By 2016, Justin Lin signed onto the project as director, and co-screenwriter with Andrew Dodge and Alfredo Botello.[36] By August 2018, Lin left the project, and Terence Nance was hired to direct the film.[37] In September 2018, Ryan Coogler was announced as a producer for the film.[38] Filming would take place in California[39][40] and within a 30 mile radius of Los Angeles.[41] Prior to production, the film received $21.8 million in tax credits as a result of a new tax incentive program from the state.[39][42][43][39]

In February 2019, after releasing the official logo with a promotional poster, Space Jam 2 was announced to be scheduled for release on July 16, 2021.[44] Principal photography began on June 25, 2019.[45][46]


  1. ^ Twenty years later, ‘Space Jam’ is the movie we never knew we needed. The Washington Post. Retrieved January 20, 2019.
  2. ^ "Space Jam (1996) - Box Office Mojo".
  3. ^ "Belize has new Films Commissioner". February 11, 2009. Archived from the original on October 4, 2014.
  4. ^ "Detail view of Movies Page". Retrieved December 12, 2016.
  5. ^ Pedersen, Erik (February 21, 2019). "Warner Bros Dates 'Space Jam 2', Shifts 'Annabelle' Sequel & 'Godzilla Vs. Kong'". Deadline. Retrieved February 21, 2019.
  6. ^ a b Maslin, Janet (November 15, 1996). "Icons Meet: Bugs, Daffy And Jordan". The New York Times. Retrieved September 12, 2010.
  7. ^ "RIAA Gold and Platinum Searchable Database". Retrieved January 23, 2009.
  8. ^ "Grammy- Past Winners Search". National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. Retrieved October 28, 2013.
  9. ^ Johnson Publishing Company (1999). Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. p. 66.
  10. ^ "Space Jam/Looney Tunes: Back in Action" product information
    Retrieved 17 December 2016
  11. ^ "Let's Be Honest, 'Space Jam' Actually Sucked". Highsnobiety. September 29, 2018.
  12. ^ "Leonardo Batic".
  13. ^ "Celebrity Sightings". GamePro. No. 92. IDG. May 1996. p. 21.
  14. ^ "Space Jam (1996)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  15. ^ "Space Jam (1996)". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  16. ^ "CinemaScore". CinemaScore. Retrieved June 24, 2019.
  17. ^ a b Ebert, Roger (November 15, 1996). "Space Jam Movie Review & Film Summary (1996)". Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  18. ^ a b Siskel, Gene (November 15, 1996). "Mj Delivers On The Screen In `Space Jam'". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  19. ^ Maltin, Leonard (August 4, 2009). Leonard Maltin's 2010 Movie Guide. Penguin Group. ISBN 9781101108765. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  20. ^ McCarthy, Todd (November 17, 1996). "Space Jam". Variety. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  21. ^ Wilmington, Michael (November 15, 1996). "Hare, Jordan". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  22. ^ "Space Jam Review". TV Guide. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  23. ^ McGurk, Margaret A. "Dazzle of 'Space Jam' can't hide its lame story". The Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
  24. ^ Porter, David L. (2007). Michael Jordan: A Biography. Greenwood Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-313-33767-3.
  25. ^ Hare Jordan & Air Jordan - Air Jordan VII YouTube (created by Nike and Warner Bros.)
  26. ^ Hare Jordan & Air Jordan - Air Jordan VIII YouTube (created by Nike and Warner Bros.)
  27. ^ ESPN 30 for 30 Short - Tune Squad vs. Monstars (the Space Jam Game) YouTube (created by Yahoo! Screen and Warner Bros.)
  28. ^ "Artist Bob Camp recalls the ill-fated "Space Jam 2"". Animated Views. November 30, 2012. Retrieved June 18, 2014.
  29. ^ ""Space Jam" Director Reveals Spike Lee Almost Wrote the Film, Scrapped Tiger Woods Sequel". Mr. Wavvy. November 15, 2016.
  30. ^ "The Space Jam 2 You Never Saw Almost Featured Tiger Woods". Retrieved June 4, 2017.
  31. ^
  32. ^ Busch, Anita (February 21, 2014). "Ebersols Aboard To Produce And Script Warner Bros' 'Space Jam 2′ As A Starring Vehicle For LeBron James". Deadline. Retrieved February 21, 2014.
  33. ^ "LeBron James signs with Warner Bros., stokes rumors of 'Space Jam' sequel". Los Angeles Times. July 22, 2015. Retrieved July 22, 2015.
  34. ^ "LeBron James: I'll help pay for hundreds of kids to go to college".
  35. ^ Trumbore, Dave (August 14, 2015). "LeBron James Hopeful for 'Great Things' in 'Space Jam 2′". Collider.
  36. ^ Ford, Rebecca (May 2, 2016). "Justin Lin Circling 'Space Jam' Sequel Starring LeBron James (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 3, 2016.
  37. ^ Gonzalez, Umberto (August 3, 2018). "'Space Jam 2': Terence Nance in Advanced Talks to Direct Lebron James (Exclusive)". The Wrap. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  38. ^ "SpringHill Ent. on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved September 19, 2018.
  39. ^ a b c McNary, Dave (November 19, 2018). "LeBron James' 'Space Jam 2' Set to Film in California". Variety. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  40. ^ "Space Jam 2 Will Shoot in California". MovieWeb. November 19, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  41. ^ ""Space Jam 2" To Film In California - Dark Horizons". Dark Horizons. November 19, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  42. ^ "'Space Jam 2' Among Projects to Receive California Tax Credits". TheWrap. November 19, 2018. Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  43. ^ Ng, David. "'Space Jam 2,' starring LeBron James, to receive $21.8-million tax break to shoot in California". Retrieved November 20, 2018.
  44. ^
  45. ^ "Production Begins on LeBron James' Space Jam 2". June 26, 2019. Retrieved June 26, 2019.
  46. ^ "Space Jam 2: Lebron James Confirms Start of Production". ScreenRant. June 25, 2019. Retrieved June 26, 2019.

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