By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
Santa Monica Canyon resident Don Cheadle has a starring role in the long-awaited sequel “Space Jam: A New Legacy.”
The live-action/animated sports comedy will be directed by Malcolm D. Lee, serving as a sequel to 1996’s “Space Jam.” Like previous hybrid Looney Tunes films, it will feature a combination of live-action, traditional hand-drawn animation and 3-D CGI effects.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” will star basketball player Lebron James as a fictionalized version of himself, alongside Cheadle in the role of AI-G Rhythm, an evil computer algorithm, Khris Davis and Sonequa Martin-Green in live-action roles. Leading the Looney Tunes voice cast will be Jeff Bergman, Eric Bauza and Zendaya.
“In this film, basketball champion and global icon LeBron James goes on an epic adventure alongside timeless Tune Bugs Bunny,” according to a summary in For the Win. “When James and his young son Dom—who dreams of being a video game developer—are trapped in a digital space by a rogue AI, James must get them home safe by leading Bugs, Lola Bunny and the whole gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes to victory over the AI’s digitized champions on the court: a powered-up roster of basketball stars as you’ve never seen them before.”
The original “Space Jam” was directed by Joe Pytka and starred basketball player Michael Jordan, following a fictionalized account of life between Jordan’s retirement from the NBA in 1993 and his comeback, alongside the Looney Tunes, in 1995. It featured a cameo appearance by Palisades Charter High School graduate Steve Kerr.
Talks of a sequel began following the release of the original film, with Pytka billed to return to direct with Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone as animation supervisors. The deal is reported to have fallen through after Jordan declined to return.
Since then, several spin-off ideas have been pitched, including films starring Jeff Gordon, Tiger Woods and Tony Hawk, but never made the cut. After several years, a James-centered story was announced in 2014 and has been in the works since.
“Space Jam: A New Legacy” is produced by Ryan Coogler, James, Maverick Carter and Duncan Henderson. The screenplay is by Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, Terence Nance, Jesse Gordon and Celeste Ballard.
The film is slated to distributed in theaters by Warner Bros. Pictures, as well as for streaming on HBO Max, on July 16.
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