In the 1990s Warner Bros. decided to take an earlier cross-promotional ad campaign they did together with shoemaker Nike and NBA superstar Michael Jordan to make something bigger. That bigger thing was 1996’s “Space Jam,” which featured Jordan teaming up with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes to play a basketball game against hulking alien “Monstars” empowered by the stolen talent of several NBA players. The box office and soundtrack success led to Warner planning for a sequel. Jordan said no, as did a succession of other celebrities. But the studio never gave up until finally getting a sequel going, with LeBron James now the basketball idol.
True to form, Entertainment Weekly got a good first look at the upcoming “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” the long-awaited follow-up to the live-action/animated hybrid basketball blockbuster movie that that teamed up Bugs and the current NBA face of the day. Yes, this is now King James instead of Air Jordan decades ago, but the first official images promise to bring back the elements that made original “Space Jam” so beloved by audiences, only now tailored for the present day.
Initial plot blurbs would have it that the story of “A New Legacy” sees LeBron, as himself, trying to connect with his youngest son Dom James (Cedric Joe), who is not a basketball player, but an aspiring videogame developer. Dom’s skill attracts the attention of an internet-dwelling CGI computer algorithm named “Al-G Rhythm” (Don Cheadle), who abducts Dom and LeBron into the virtual net-space. To save his son and get themselves home, James must enlist the online avatars of Looney Tunes characters Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky, Tweety, Sylvester, Speedy Gonzales, and more to form a team that could stand up to Al-G’s Goon Squad.
Under the direction of Malcolm D. Lee and with LeBron joined as co-producer by Ryan Coogler, Maverick Carter and Duncan Henderson, “Space Jam: A New Legacy” looks to dazzle viewers anew with the tried and true blend of basketball choreography and Looney slapstick. Updated designs also tease that character Lola Bunny, who debuted in the first “Space Jam,” has been revamped from a furry supermodel to a bunny girl who looks like a basketball ace.
Sonequa Martin-Green, Ceyair J. Wright, Harper Leigh Alexander also star in the film, plus with some choice supporting and cameo roles going to big names in the NBA and WNBA. “A New Legacy” is due to premiere this July 16.
Image courtesy of IGN