Director Joe Pytka thinks his original Space Jam starring Michael Jordan was more compelling

By Ale Russian
July 21, 2021 10:40 AM
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LeBron James, Michael Jordan
Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty; Streeter Lecka/Getty

The director of the original Space Jam isn't happy with the hit sequel, Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Joe Pytka directed Michael Jordan in the 1996 original, which had ties to Jordan's personal life as he was nearing retirement. Pytka told TMZ the premise of his movie resonated more than the new one starring LeBron James.

"The truth is that LeBron ain't Michael," Pytka told the outlet, adding that Jordan wasn't only the best basketball player at the time but the biggest celebrity in the world.

He also had harsh words for the new animation of Bugs Bunny, who he said "looked like one of those fluffy dolls you buy at an airport gift shop to bring your kid when your business trip has taken too long."

Despite Pytka's criticism, the movie was a smash hit at the box office this past weekend.

In its opening three days, Space Jam: A New Legacy earned an estimated $31.7 million, according to the Associated Press and Variety, taking the No. 1 spot and surpassing industry expectations at the domestic box office following its July 16 premiere.

space jam a new legacy
Credit: Warner Bros.

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On Twitter Saturday, James, 36, shared a news report about the box office return, writing, "Hi Haters!" with a smiling emoji. Director Malcolm D. Lee added in a tweet, "Many thanks to the fans!!! We made this for you and reward us with your presence. Thanks for coming back to the movies!"

James previously spoke to Entertainment Weekly about being approached to do a Space Jam movie 15 years ago, and why it finally felt like the right time to take it on.

"I didn't think I was ready to do anything of that magnitude. I wanted to continue to focus on my game and give it as much as I could," said the NBA star, adding, "In my younger days, part of my thinking was 'Space Jam was so good, how can I top this?' There's always going to be conversations about LeBron trying to do everything Michael [did]. But I've gotten older, and you know who you are. You know what you stand for."

Space Jam: A New Legacy is now playing in theaters and available to stream on HBO Max.