For those of you who are too young to remember the 90s, pairing basketball star Michael Jordan (at the time the most famous athlete in the world) with Bugs Bunny (whose popularity was resurging at the same time) was an instant ticket to success. Nike did it first, having Bugs meet Jordan in a one-minute Super Bowl ad in 1992. The ad was so popular, it not only sold Air Jordans but its own line of T-shirts.
It got WB thinking that maybe they should make their own Jordan/Bugs production. Jordan’s temporary retirement from basketball in 1993 put a crimp in those plans, but after he returned to the court in 1995, his two-year absence was worked into the plot for Space Jam, a live-action / animated hybrid where Flying Mike must use his skills to help the Looney Tunes win a basketball game, the stakes being they’ll be enslaved by aliens if they lose. The plot didn’t make much sense, but at the box office that didn’t seem to matter.
WB wanted a sequel immediately, but Jordan was not Shaq and he was not willing to let Hollywood humiliate him more than once. This created a problem as there was no one with fame like Jordan’s at the time, and there still isn’t today. WB flirted for brief periods with using Jackie Chan, or Jeff Gordon, but nothing stuck until recently when LeBron James agreed to star, putting the focus back on basketball.
But it’s been a long time, and Space Jam is very much a product of 90s culture, so the question is how does one “update” it? Throw in technology. The new plot is that LeBron can’t relate to his tech wizard son, who spends his time programming computer games. Dom is so good at his craft that he attracts the attention of a malevolent AI named Al G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), who sucks Dom into the universe of his private server to enslave him. The only way for LeBron to save his son is to enter virtual reality, team up with the Looney Tunes and play a basketball game. It makes about as much sense as the first one, but again, if it didn’t matter then, why should it now?
Oh, right…the screens. That’s what you came for. EW.com posted them this morning:
Cheadle and Dom, the latter played by 16-year-old Cedric Joe.
Bugs Bunny, confirming the controversial decision to go 3-D with this. It’s not the same treatment as Tom and Jerry (if you look closely you can see fur). The blurry audience will consist of stars under the WB umbrella, and this time it’ll be more than just ancillary Looney Tunes characters. That’s unmistakably Jabberjaw by Bugs’s ear.
Space Jam 2 (or Space Jam: A New Legacy) will premiere both in theaters and on HBO Max July 16. A trailer is probably coming soon; we’ll put it up when we get ahold of it.