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The Sequel To A Beloved 1996 Movie Was A Huge Flop - But It's Blowing Up On Netflix

An untold truth of "Space Jam" is that it originated with commercials, but became an iconic film from the 1990s that many people still watch and enjoy to this day. Unfortunately, its long-awaited sequel, "Space Jam: A New Legacy," where LeBron James joins the Tune Squad to take over from Michael Jordan, likely won't have the same kind of cultural cache. But while it flopped hard when it first came out, "A New Legacy" is already proving to be a slam dunk on Netflix.

Data from FlixPatrol lists the "Space Jam" sequel among the streaming service's top 10 movies for the week starting April 9. Additionally, it's the most-watched children's movie for that same week. The film's strong showing is impressive, considering its 25% critics' rating on Rotten Tomatoes and its gross of only $163 million at the global box office upon release. Granted, it received a dual release on Max and in theaters, since it came out in 2021 when many theaters were still closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, so it's possible that its haul was negatively impacted by that.

The jury's still out on whether a third "Space Jam" movie will ever happen. The box office performance of "A New Legacy" certainly doesn't bode well, but if it continues getting traction on streaming, it may entice Warner Bros. to make another "Space Jam" movie that will hopefully be released when a pandemic isn't ravaging the population.

Critics didn't want to slam now with Space Jam

1996's "Space Jam" is a fun throwback featuring classic Looney Tunes gags and one of the best basketball players ever. "Space Jam: A New Legacy" attempts to do the same, while throwing in a bunch of needless intellectual property from the rest of the Warner Bros. library. Some "Matrix" references are fun, but having the Droogs from "A Clockwork Orange" appear during the big match feels like cramming in IP for IP's sake. Xoop's review of "A New Legacy" called out these odd references and plenty of other aspects of the movie that didn't work, while numerous other critics had similar thoughts. 

Alissa Wilkinson of Vox criticized the inherently strange nature of the sequel, calling it "the kind of studio film that seems halfway aware that it's sort of critiquing a problem its existence also exemplifies." In this instance, the movie seems to be aware that using AI and algorithms to control art is a bad thing, yet the film itself is packed to the brim with SEO-friendly keywords and concepts that would appeal to any executive obsessed with "brand synergy."

Then again, perhaps people have been too harsh toward "A New Legacy." After all, the original "Space Jam" could be considered one giant commercial, too, and Michael Jordan's performance is hardly some tour de force. Perhaps adults have viewed "A New Legacy" through a more cynical lens, absent any nostalgia they may have for the first movie. Kids will likely be kinder toward the sequel, which is probably why it's doing so well on Netflix now.