This controversial sequel to a beloved ’90s classic is dominating HBO

Don Cheadle in Space Jam 2
Image via HBO Max

In an age of reboots, remakes, and rereleases, some follow-ups to classic film series are better than others. Love or hate the direction Disney took the new Star Wars movies, the sequel trilogy was a pretty decent expansion on the past six films. And even if you didn’t necessarily enjoy Halloween Kills, Michael Myers’ latest escapade was a chilling romp through the original franchise’s greatest premise: A powerful, evil masked murderer hunting down innocent people.

But pull aside any two Space Jam fans, and you’re likely to get wildly different opinions on Warner Bros. Pictures’ Space Jam: A New Legacy, which dropped on HBO Max earlier this year. The film subs in Michael Jordan for LeBron James and follows the Lakers legend as he works with the rest of the Looney Tunes to defeat an evil AI (played by Don Cheadle) brought to life. Basketball hijinks ensue. The concept works in theory, but critics were even less than eager to embrace this film than the 1996 original: Space Jam’s sequel has a 25 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes among critics, although the audience score is much higher at 79 percent.

Critics may have strong words for the James and Cheadle-led film, but that hasn’t stopped HBO viewers in the U.S. from flocking to the flick again. After its limited-time release window on HBO Max expired in mid-August, Space Jam: A New Legacy has returned to the streaming service in the U.S. this month, where the film now dominates nationwide as the fourth most popular film today. Considering how Space Jam: A New Legacy is still just as family-friendly as the original, and the Christmas season already has plenty of parents and kids alike in the mood for a weekday movie night, it makes sense Space Jam’s sequel is back on the charts.

Whether Space Jam: A New Legacy will remain is another question altogether. Audiences may love the film, but LeBron and the Looney Tunes have a whole slew of Christmas films to compete with over the next 24 days, including classics like Elf and Christmas Vacation.