There’s no doubt it’s really happening now. Space Jam is returning and there are pictures to prove it. Entertainment Weekly delivered a first look at the upcoming theatrical / HBO Max release of Space Jam: A New Legacy, diving into the film’s plot and dropping a slew of images. It finds LeBron James taking the place of Michael Jordan but is definitely not a sequel.
While we’ve already seen the uniforms that the Looney Tunes and James will wear during the film, nearly everything else here is new, including our first look at what Bugs Bunny will look like in the film, which is entirely CGI. It’s a bit unclear if that’s the style the entire film will have since the cover image shows Bug and pals in more traditional animation style, but it’s definitely a far furrier look than we’re used to seeing the hare in.
It’s possible the film’s plot has something to do with the style. LeBron finds himself sucked into the Warner 3000 entertainment “Server-verse” by a villainous AI played by Don Cheadle, who has kidnapped his son. Of course, the only way to settle the issues is by playing basketball, so LeBron goes to track down the Looney Tunes, including an exiled Bugs Bunny, so they can play with him. The story not only gives the film the opportunity to pull in all our favorite Looney Tune characters but also will take a dive into Warner’s films as well; as LeBron travels through its servers, audiences will see films like Mad Max, The Matrix, and Casablanca. Maybe in this digital world Bugs and crew get transformed to CGI?
Space Jam: A New Legacy, produced by Ryan Coogler and directed by Spike Lee’s cousin Malcolm D. Lee, is looking to be a bit more than the good time that the original movie was according to James. “The general idea was the examination of Black fatherhood and how fatherhood could be unique to LeBron James specifically,” Lee said.
There’s also the issue that kids just don’t know Looney Tunes all that well anymore. The staple of ’90s kids’ lives is far less prevalent these days despite new shorts coming to HBO Max. The filmmakers at first struggled with reintroducing the characters, but once they found their stride, it clicked. “Kids are [now] more likely to watch other kids’ YouTube channels than cartoons,” Coogler said. “It was a bit challenging to think about, but we were reminded very quickly why the Looney Tunes work. When we watch the parts of the film [featuring] the Tunes, you have a smile come over your face because, if you’re from our generation, you miss them.”
Space Jame: A New Legacy will release theatrically and on HBO Max on July 16, 2021.