Game on! LeBron James balls out in Space Jam: A New Legacy first look
After initially passing 15 years ago, LeBron James is finally ready to take the Space Jam mantle from Michael Jordan in Space Jam: A New Legacy (out July 16 in theaters and on HBO Max), which graces the new cover of EW. "It’s something Mike created and is his,” James says of the beloved franchise. “I held that with a lot of responsibility.” As does EW in premiering this highly-anticipated first look.
Putting the Jam in Space Jam
"I had that wow moment, like, 'Mama, I'm doing this. [I'm] really shooting Space Jam,'" James recalls of putting the Tune Squad jersey on for the first time.
A Looney Squad
Move over, Anthony Davis and the rest of the Lakers, because James' new running mates are Tweety and the Tune Squad. "We were reminded very quickly why the Looney Tunes work," says New Legacy producer Ryan Coogler. "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.”
A Hare-Raising Hoop Dream
"It was very important to me to be traditional about the Looney Tunes’ portrayals,” New Legacy director Malcolm D. Lee says of Bugs Bunny & Co.
LeBron's Toughest Opponent Yet
James and son Dom (Cedric Joe) are pulled into the Warner 3000 entertainment "Server-verse" by Don Cheadle's rogue A.I., Al G Rhythm. The MCU veteran doesn’t consider Al G a bad guy (what bad guy does?), but rather “an A.I. with a chip on his shoulder."
From War Machine to Artificial Intelligence
“Half of the fun is going into the mind of an A.I. What do they think about themselves? What do they want everyone else to see?” says Cheadle (pictured with Joe) of Al G Rhythm, who puts together the formidable Goon Squad.
The New Lola
Upon watching Space Jam for the first time in 2019, Lee was caught off guard by the original's "very sexualized" depiction of Lola Bunny. "This is 2021. It's important to reflect the authenticity of strong, capable female characters," the Girls Trip filmmaker says of why they "reworked" Lola, a.k.a. the team's best non-LeBron player.
All in the Family
LeBron and Dom aren't the only members of the James family. "I would step back and marvel that I was part of something like this,” says Sonequa Martin-Green, who plays "strong-willed" James matriarch Kamiyah (pictured with onscreen kids Harper Leigh Alexander and Ceyair Wright).
We Have Now Taken Over Your Franchise
Long before producing New Legacy, Coogler was just a middle schooler performing Space Jam's memorable track "Hit 'Em High" at a talent show. “It felt like a real cultural moment,” he says of the first film's release in 1996.
Crafting a New Legacy
"It was always about respecting [Space Jam], but also, how do we make a film that's interesting, matters to the culture, and is about something," says James' producing partner and longtime friend Maverick Carter (seen here during production with Cheadle).
Although James opted against an acting coach on 2015's Trainwreck, Lee (pictured with James) and Cheadle schooled him on New Legacy. “Just like in the NBA, I like to be coached by my coaches,” James explains. “I was the same way on set.”
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