On November 15, animated live-action movie Space Jam celebrates its 24th anniversary. Though it’s been almost two and a half decades since it hit theaters, it still holds a special place in the hearts of ’90s kids who grew up with Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls dominating the decade and kids’ sports movies being an enormous trend in Hollywood.
The story follows the Looney Tunes, who are captured by a conniving amusement park owner to entertain parkgoers in his park, Moron Mountain. The quick-thinking Bugs Bunny manages to negotiate their freedom under one condition: If they win a basketball game against the Moron Mountain alien henchmen, they go free. But the henchmen stack their team by stealing NBA stars from Earth, so Bugs & co. turn to the greatest basketball player of all to help them: Michael Jordan.
A new Space Jam movie is in the works, this time with LeBron James in the role once held by Michael Jordan. To pump us up for the release of Space Jam: A New Legacy next summer and to honor the anniversary of the original, here are some fun trivia facts about the greatest kids’ basketball movie ever made.
1. The original movie website from 1996 is still up and running.
It’s completely untouched from what it looked like when it first went live in 1996. You can find it here.
2. The idea for the movie came from commercials.
It was inspired by a series of hugely popular ’90s ads for Nike that depicted Michael Jordan and Bugs Bunny squared off in a basketball game against Marvin the Martian and his alien team.
3. Bill Murray’s appearance in the movie was also a nod to popular ads.
There was a series of commercials starred in in the 90s in which Murray tries and fails to become an NBA player. Murray’s appearance in the movie was a cheeky nod to these commercials.
4. Michael Jordan had a good luck superstition.
Jordan wore his North Carolina Tar Heel college basketball shorts under his Chicago Bulls uniform every game for good luck.
5. The film marks the debut of Bugs Bunny’s love interest, Lola Bunny.
Since then, she’s appeared in a number of animated movies as well as Looney Tunes cartoon series.
6. Warner Bros. took care of the king.
At the time of the movie’s filming, Michael Jordan was the biggest star in the NBA and arguably the biggest athlete in the world. To keep him happy, Warner Bros. built an actual basketball court on set so Jordan could practice on breaks.
7. The gym where the Looney Tunes practice is called Leon Schlesinger Gym.
It’s named for Leon Schleisinger, the producer of the first Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies cartoons.
8. It was the first animated movie to be edited for content for TV airings.
It was the first Looney Tunes cartoon to get a PG rating, the rest being G.
9. The scene where Daffy Duck models a purple and gold potential uniform for the other Looney Tunes is an homage to Jordan.
Purple and gold is the color scheme of Omega Psi Phi, the fraternity that Jordan pledged while in college. If you look closely, in the scene in the movie where Jordan is shirtless in the hotel room and on the phone, you can see the omega symbol tattooed on his chest in homage to Omega Psi Phi.
10. There are a number of Looney Tunes cartoons shown in the Moron Mountain amusement park.
Those cartoons are
- Broom-Stick Bunny (1956)
- Don’t Axe Me (1958)
- Duck Amuck (1953)
- Duck! Rabbit, Duck! (1953)
- Gee Whiz-z-z-z-z-z-z (1956)
- Going! Going! Gosh! (1952)
- Golden Yeggs (1950)
- Henhouse Henery (1949)
- High Diving Hare (1949)
- Hip Hip-Hurry! (1958)
- Rabbit of Seville (1950)
- Ready…Set…Zoom! (1955)
- Speedy Gonzales (1955)
11. Bill Murray agreed to be in the movie for a very specific reason.
Murray revealed that he agreed to do Space Jam because he deeply regretted missing out on another huge animated live-action movie a few years earlier: 1988s’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit?
12. It grossed over $230 million worldwide ($381.5 million today).
That makes it the highest-grossing basketball movie of all time as well as the highest-grossing Looney Tunes movie ever made.
13. There’s a Doctor Who Easter Egg in the movie.
When the aliens from moron mountain disguise themselves to blend into the basketball game, they’re all wearing the iconic scarf Tom Baker wore as the Fourth Doctor in Doctor Who.
14. The five NBA players who have their talent stolen were some of the best basketball stars at the time.
Those players were
- Charles Barkley
- Larry Johnson
- Muggsy Bogues
- Patrick Ewing
- Shawn Bradley
Ironically, at the time they played, not one of the five ever won an NBA championship. The reason why? Michael Jordan, whose Chicago Bulls dominated the ’90s and won six championships in one decade: 1991, 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 1998.
15. Bill Murray’s jersey number is a nod to one of his most famous movies.
In the movie, Murray wears #22 on his jersey. This is a nod to his classic time-loop comedy Groundhog Day, which happens on February 2nd – i.e. 2/2.