30 Unknown ‘Space Jam’ Facts That’re Out of This World
Sum up your childhood in two words. If you didn’t say Space Jam, wrong answer.
This legendary basketball movie brought Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny together to make one of the greatest sports films of all time, so we went to Moron Mountain and back searching for the most out of this world facts.
Between the filming, behind the scenes and everything in between, the making of this movie was just plain loony.
1. Celebrities Weren’t Sold
We all have 20/20 hindsight and love to show it with our, “I can’t believe they could be so stupid!” comments, but this one really does seem like it should have been undeniably obvious how big a hit this would be. Combining Bugs Bunny and the Looney Tunes with the most famous and popular athlete in the world?
Michael Jordan still wasn’t enough for these three megastars to pair up with His Airness. Casting the role of Stan Podolak, MJ’s publicist, was not an easy venture. Michael J. Fox, Jason Alexander and Chevy Chase were all offered the key supporting role, but turned it down.
As crazy as that seems, they all had good reason…
2. Wayne’s World
Taking that role would mean taking on a heap of work that goes beyond simply acting the part. Since Space Jam is a live-action animated film, filming would require a ton of green screen acting. Couple that with acting alongside an inexperienced actor who’s also a star athlete and an exhausting workload is all but guaranteed.
Thankfully, Jason Alexander’s fellow Seinfeld actor, Wayne Knight, took on the role and ended up making one of the most unforgettable and funniest characters in the movie.
While it’s hard to imagine Fox or Chase playing MJ’s publicist, getting some George Costanza action on the sideline would’ve been quite the sight.
3. Never Touch the Stuff
As much as we all loved seeing Wayne Knight play Air Jordan’s publicist, the lovable character actor was floating so high on cloud nine he may as well have been on another planet. Even though Knight is used to crazy fame starring in the likes of Seinfeld and Jurassic Park, he could barely process being surrounded by the NBA’s most elite athletes.
With Patrick Ewing, Charles Barkley, Muggsy Bogues and others accompanying the GOAT, Knight was so starstruck by the supreme talent, he wouldn’t even come close to getting hoops action.
“People ask me, ‘Did you play any basketball with [Michael Jordan]?’ I wouldn’t even touch a basketball next to those guys. Are you kidding me? If they passed it to me, I would walk away. I didn’t want to be seen touching it.”
That’s dedication to not participating.
4. The Jordan Dome
Before MJ agreed to star in Space Jam, he had one big stipulation that was a make or break for his involvement: Warner Bros. needed to guarantee it could provide an NBA-grade training facility for Jordan to workout in throughout filming. The studio delivered, and the Jordan Dome was born.
The Jordan Dome is every bit as epic as it looks and sounds. Within the enormous white tent was a state of the art field house replete with an entire gym’s worth of state of the art exercise equipment and a full basketball court.
Let’s just say that again, Jordan got a personal gym AND basketball court so he could stay fit while filming. A GOAT’s gotta earn that title, after all.
5. Legendary Pickup
The Jordan Dome is an epic, totally extravagant and perfectly MJ thing to have while shooting Space Jam, but what really makes his personal athletic haven so epic is what went down within those walls. We got MJ, we got a superstar NBA supporting cast, and we got it all in Burbank right next Hollywood.
In other words, some of the most legendary pickup games of all time went down between shoots.
The cast alone was stacked: Bird, Barkley, Ewing, Bradley, LJ and Bogues. Add in other greats: Shaq, Magic, Grant Hill, Glen Rice, Dennis Rodman, Alonzo Mourning, Reggie Miller… the list goes on.
6. Linking Up the Stars
No doubt about it, summer in Los Angeles was more insane than the Drew League could ever dream. Still though, are we really to believe that Jordan could be satisfied with playing against the greatest players in the world in his down time? Of course not. Since there was also some golfing in the movie, MJ got his fix on the links in too.
Just like in the movie, Larry Bird and Bill Murray got a chance to go face off against His Airness with a round of golf.
Don’t let Murray being comedy genius fool you, Jordan probably wanted that ‘W’ just as bad as he did playing pickup in his personalized gym.
As for the bets that were laid on the line? We can only imagine…
7. Commercial Success
Believe it or not, the entire premise of Space Jam was all based around one commercial! The commercial—dubbed “Hare Jordan”—features Bugs Bunny and Michael Jordan joining up to work over the competition in a pickup game of 2v4 hoops, because that’s apparently just the way teams were set in 1993.
Even at a minute long, this commercial is every bit as laden with ‘90s greatness as the film.
All these dudes are rocking tube socks with the lines only to scrunch them down. Everyone’s wearing those fabric shorts. One dude’s even got the knee pads… for pickup ball!
Shout-out Joe Pytka for directing this movie potential into existence.
8. Last Hurrah
Crazy as turning a commercial into an entire movie sounds, no one in the world is more capable of pulling it off than director Joe Pytka. Pytka’s resume sports an enormous list of commercials that have found their way into the permanent collection in New York’s MoMA and nearly 100 that have been watched by millions during the Super Bowl.
Although Pytka directed Let It Ride (1989), commercials and music videos remain his niche. When a film treatment was created out of the “Hare Jordan” commercial, Pytka took Space Jam on as his second feature film, which would also prove to be his last time directing for the big screen.
9. Site Still Running
It’s been over two decades since Space Jam first hit theaters in November 1996. To promote the film, Warner Bros. bought spacejam.com in March earlier that year. After all that time, the original site has still been up and running since its inception. Best of all, nothing about it has changed.
Visiting the Space Jam website is so bizarre. The only thing that could give the landing page any more of a ‘90s vibe would be to somehow intentionally throttle the Internet and inject some of that lovely dial-up tone while the site slowly loads up.
Too heavy on the nostalgia?
10. Real Good Luck Charm
When the swarmy little Nerdlucks called Jordan a washed baldy, they managed to push all the right buttons to convince the GOAT to come out of retirement and play basketball again. Before Jordan was going to suit up for the Tune Squad, he needed Bugs and Daffy to get his shoes and lucky shorts from his bag of gear back home.
Those Carolina blue shorts the Looney Tunes grabbed wasn’t just paying homage to MJ’s alma mater. Jordan’s superstition is the real deal. In reality, Jordan really did wear his Tar Heel shorts underneath his game shorts whenever he played and NBA game.
11. Epic Jams
The Space Jam soundtrack is loaded from front to back with absolute BANGERS. Whoever says otherwise is a) wrong, and b) not someone you want to be associating yourself with. All of the big names came together to make an awesome collaborations and an album that still holds up today.
The album topped out at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and had already gone double platinum by January 1997. Keep in mind, the movie hit theaters in November 1996!
By 2001, the soundtrack hit platinum six times over. (Probably safe to assume there won’t be enough albums bought to hit that No. 7.)
12. Tracking the Hits
“I Believe I Can Fly” by R. Kelly; “Fly Like an Eagle” by Seal; “Hit ‘Em High (The Monstars Anthem)” by B-Real, Busta Rhymes, Coolio, LL Cool J and Method Man… the list goes on. Tack this epic album onto the list of reasons why Jordan is the GOAT. He reportedly played a key role in helping pick out a number of the killer tracks that helped make this album so timeless.
Now let’s get one thing straight: It doesn’t matter how bomb this soundtrack is, or how many legendary artists laid these tracks, we are not going to let some great song selections fool us.
When it comes to making actual NBA draft picks, there is no chance we are putting any faith in Jordan.
Sorry, MJ. More importantly, sorry, Hornets fans.
13. No Love from the OG
Space Jam is an absolute classic. It’s perfection. Every scene is rewatchable. They really nailed it. Those are pretty much everyone’s thoughts, right? Not quite. Chuck Jones, one of the genius minds behind the creation of different Looney Tunes characters, thought the film was terrible.
“I can tell you, with the utmost confidence, Porky Pig would never say ‘I think I wet myself’” and an argument that “Bugs Bunny wouldn’t need anyone’s help, and moreover, it wouldn’t have taken him an hour and a half” to defeat the aliens highlight Jones’ frustrations.
Solid argument until, you know, saying it shouldn’t have taken Bugs a whole movie to solve a problem in… a movie.
14. Critics Take the Stage
Chuck Jones may be the most surprising critic of the film, but he certainly wasn’t alone in his disdain for the flick. We can only assume these pessimistic peeps are parents, because, you know, parents just don’t understand. There was actually a surprising amount of negative review. Here’s a taste of the haters:
Michael Wilmington of the Chicago Tribune said, “Is it cute? Yes. Is it a crowd-pleaser? Yup. Is it classic? Nope. (Thought it could have been.)”
A TV Guide review gave the movie two stars, saying it’s a “cynical attempt to cash in on the popularity of Warner Bros. cartoon characters and basketball player Michael Jordan, inspired by a Nike commercial.”
Wrong side of history, these guys.
15. One, Two, Zero Sequel
Remember when everyone went crazy in 2016, thinking there was going to be a Space Jam sequel after a new commercial dropped? The commercial featured All-Stars Jimmy Butler and Blake Griffin, who even gave a nod to the original commercial, reiterating MJ’s “Who’d you expect, Elmer Fudd?” line.
In 2014, rumors were swirling of LeBron James’ potential involvement in a sequel. In 2015, Bron’s production company, SpringHill Entertainment, signed a deal with Warner Bros.
Even though it seemed like a reboot was secretly in the works leading up to that commercial even though nothing else ever came of it (for a while, at least).
But that wasn’t the first time there was anticipation of a Space Jam 2…
16. Mike Drop
The first time it looked like a Space Jam 2 was in the works goes all the way back to 1997 right after the studio realized what a cash cow they had in this box office smash hit. A sequel was an obvious move after the overwhelming of the first movie.
All Warner Bros. wanted was to make sure that His Airness was down for a second go at acting on the big screen. One of the film’s (unnamed) producers reportedly reached out to MJ’s camp and got the go-ahead and, just like that, the studio dived into pre-production.
Then everything hit a brick wall. Turns out Jordan was NOT into the idea of a sequel. Whoops.
17. King’s Court
Dreams shattered. Moving on. RIP. But finally, at long last, the basketball gods smiled down us and, in September 2018, SpringHIll Entertainment announced the film with an awesome teaser on Twitter. Our dreams of LeBron taking the reins from MJ and joining the Tune Squad are back in full effect.
Although production is set to begin in summer 2019, we still technically aren’t getting that sequel, as the King James version of Space Jam is supposed to be a reboot of the original.
This is it, guys. We can FINALLY get a legit Jordan-LeBron comparison to determine who’s the true GOAT.
18. Got Jokes?
Just because Warner Bros. set out to make a happy and fun film for the kiddos doesn’t mean they can’t have some fun at the expense of others in the process. The Space Jam writing wasn’t afraid to get a few good shots in, the first being at Disney.
When the Looney Tunes are trying to come up with a team name, Daffy suggests the Ducks. Bugs’ response? “What kind of Mickey Mouse organization would name their team the Ducks?”
With the recent success of The Mighty Ducks film Disney enjoyed in 1992, Space Jam couldn’t help but poke the
19. Charles In Charge
For once, Charles Barkley was actually the one firing shots with a fantastic burn of his own. After losing his basketball powers, Barkley addressed the alleged rumors of being with Madonna at time in a scene by praying to God, promising he “won’t go out with Madonna again.”
You gotta love Sir Charles getting the chance to roast someone else for a change. The man has been getting absolutely trashed by Shaq, the TNT crew and really just about anyone with access to social media for years now.
Everyone gets one, even the Round Mound of Rebound. Excuse us, that’s SIR Round Mound of Rebound.
20. Insanely Gross
This movie is disgusting – straight up gross… when talking margins, that is. Space Jam has withstood the test time, sitting right up there with the classics as one of the highest grossing sports films of all time. At $230.4 million, Space Jam is second to none for basketball movies in the box office.
Can we please appreciate the GOAT for a minute? Jordan tries his hand at acting and ends up taking the rest of silver screen hoops to school.
Hoosiers, White Men Can’t Jump, Coach Carter, He Got Game, Blue Chips, Love & Basketball – none of these greats could contain His Airness.
21. Show Them the Money
Between shattering records at the box office and the soundtrack going sextuple platinum, Warner Bros. hit all the bases to rake in the cash and we do mean ALL the bases. Factor in all of the merchandise and other media based off the film and the Space Jam franchise has made an estimated $6 billion!
LeBron James is the biggest player in basketball and all of sports since Jordan. He’s also an incredibly savvy businessman well on his way to becoming a billionaire. No doubt about it, this calculated move is going to pay insane dividends with royalties fit for a King… James.
22. Monstar Magic
Whatever unimaginatively ignorant nonbelievers say that this is all just a movie and that none of it is real need to check themselves before they wreck themselves. This is a very serious warning, so take it literally. When the Nerdlucks stole NBA players’ talent to transform into the Monstars, those pros legit lost their skill.
Hear us out now, there’s a method to this madness.
Charles Barkley, Patrick Ewing, Shawn Bradley, Larry Johnson and Muggsy Bogues. What do these five ballers have in common? (Don’t say they’re all giant, because we got Muggsy in there.)
It happened when their careers ended…
23. Reels, but No Rings
Despite being some of the toughest players in the league in their heyday, when they all hung up the jersey and retired, they held a grand total of zero NBA Championships. So we have Jordan, who has enough rings (six) to divvy up between that entire starting five and then some.
Then we have a superstar squad that was in the movie because they also served as the faces of the league. No argument to make – the Monstars were created by top NBA talent, and left these poor guys with nothing but a heap of bad juju and an empty trophy case.
At least they won big by getting in the movie?
24. More Magic
That wasn’t the only magic the Monstars brought to the big screen. Our big evil aliens ballers also brought a magic so real that we couldn’t even tell it was happening onscreen. Since Space Jam is both a live-action and animated movie, a ton of the filming needed to be done in front of a green screen.
Shooting hoops with cartoon teammates is one thing, but in order to make Jordan playing his animated opponents look as authentic as possible, real people were put up against him.
A comedy troupe was hired to fill in as the Monstars and play against Jordan.
25. Invisible Defense
It might look fine dribbling and putting up shots all alone, but to make Jordan playing the Monstars look convincing, it would take real bodies for MJ to post up against and offer real contact. With the comedy troupe dressed head to toe in their green screen suits, MJ could do his thing and feel the opponents’ shame as he breaks ankles.
The troupe would D-up Jordan from their knees, up on stools and stand on their feet while surrounding him for all of the various interactions he’d hoop his way through.
Sure, the comedy may have been hired simply for the sake of getting torched by the GOAT, but at least they get to say that was their job (unlike the rest of the NBA).
26. Launching Lola
Most of the Looney Tunes characters had been around for years by the time Space Jam hit theaters. Although Bugs, Daffy and a majority had been around the block with all sorts crazy non-basketball situations, one member of the Tune Squad made her animated debut in this box office hit.
One of the new recruits who joins the Tune Squad, Lola Bunny, really is meeting all of her star-studded animated cast for the first time. And here we were thinking they were just fantastic actors.
It’s great and all Bugs finally found another bunny to love after all these years of riding solo, but he should probably let Lola he was already almost 60 when they met.
27. Easter Eggs – Animated Jordan Gym
MJ had his Jordan Dome to ball out in throughout filming, but the animated gymnasium the Tune Squad used to train and ball out in was called the Schlesinger Gym. This building’s name was meant as a nod to film producer Leon Schlesinger, who laid the foundation for this film decades before its inception.
Schlesinger was responsible for founding Leon Schlesinger Productions, which would eventually become Warner Bros. Cartoons, Inc. Not only the founder, he also served as producer on the Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons.
It was a simple gesture, but a much deserved shout out to the OG of getting loony.
28. Easter Eggs – Space Jam Odyssey
Blink and you’ll miss this awesome Easter egg. Near the start of the film after Jordan announces his retirement from basketball, the camera pans up to outer space to give our first view of the Nerdlucks on Moron Mountain. STOP! While approaching the neon “Moron Mountain” sign, a black rectangular doorway can be seen in the upper righthand corner of the screen.
This innocuous bit of floating emptiness is actually paying homage to another legendary movie that was out of this world: Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The towering black monolith is a recurring image that appears throughout, and essentially drives the entire plot of the film. (If you haven’t seen it… Sheesh, get on that.)
29. Easter Eggs – Bill Knows a Guy
At the end of the film, our knight in shining armor—Bill Murray, of course—swoops in to save the day. After the Monstars injured nearly the entire Tune Squad, a fifth player is needed on the court or else they’d be forced to forfeit. Murray somehow appears out of nowhere all suited up.
Bugs Bunny says what we’re all wondering, asking Murray, “Exactly how did you get here?”
Murray simply replies, “Producer’s a friend of mine.”
Turns out art really does imitate life, as Murray and producer Ivan Reitman are close friends and have worked on other movies together, including Ghostbusters and Stripes.
30. Easter Eggs – Stay Seated
Marvel may have mastered the art of keeping the audience in their seats with the superhero teasers in the post end credits scene, but Space Jam was jumping on that trend way before it was cool. Classic Jordan, right? Bugs Bunny jumps in to deliver Porky Pig’s classic, “That’s all folks!” line, and shenanigans ensue.
Then we got Daffy Duck joining the part and even the Nerdlucks try there hand at bidding farewell.
Come on though, do we really think there could be any person other than His Airness who could close out the game? Not a chance.
Can you go home now, MJ? Yes. Yes, we all can.