Details are emerging about the plot and production of Space Jam: A New Legacy, the sequel to the legendary Michael Jordan-starring Looney Tunes film from the late-1990s. The star of the new film, of course, is LeBron James, who through his production company and star power got the film off the ground and made it one of the most anticipated releases of 2021. But James admitted in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that he was nervous that fans would see him as purely imitating Jordan rather than forging his own path, which is why he initially said no to the role.
“In my younger days, part of my thinking was ‘Space Jam was so good, how can I top this?’ ” James told EW’s Derek Lawrence. “There’s always going to be conversations about LeBron trying to do everything Michael [did]. But I’ve gotten older, and you know who you are. You know what you stand for.”
James was offered the opportunity for a Space Jam sequel all the way back in 2005, when he had hardly achieved much in the NBA at all, but said no in order to focus on his playing career. But as he built up his media empire and accomplished many of his on-court goals, he softened to the idea. Once the braintrust of producer Ryan Coogler, director Malcolm D. Lee (Spike’s brother) and co-star Don Cheadle were brought on-board and began to craft a story around James as a father, James was sold.
Take a deep breath before you try to digest what the story will be: Cheadle basically plays a fussy Artificial Intelligence who is jealous of James’ Instagram following and uses James’ son’s computer to try to steal James’ followers by challenging the King to a basketball game. Effectively, James is literally doing all of it for the ‘Gram (and his son).
— Esther Zuckerman (@ezwrites) March 4, 2021
Space Jam 2 will have the challenge of being one of the first movies released in theaters since last spring, though it will also go straight to HBO Max like all of Warner Bros.’ 2021 films. That’s something even Jordan never had to deal with.