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By Derek Lawrence
March 04, 2021 at 01:30 PM EST
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If you've ever wanted to see a movie that featured Bugs Bunny, LeBron James, Mad Max, and Casablanca, then that's a very weird and specific wish. And yet, unexpectedly, Space Jam: A New Legacy is exactly what you've been waiting for!

The highly-anticipated film from Warner Bros., which currently graces the cover of EW, stars James as a heightened version of himself, and the story jumps into high-gear when he and his computer-obsessed son Dom (Cedric Joe) get sucked into the Warner 3000 entertainment "Server-verse" by a rogue A.I. named Al G Rhythm (Don Cheadle).

Space Jam: A New Legacy
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

"Obviously the Looney Tunes come with the Space Jam property, but the idea of playing in the entire Warner Bros. sandbox was an idea that came from [co-writer] Terence Nance," shares New Legacy producer Ryan Coogler. "And that was a really unique quality about some of the things that he wanted to explore in the script and that made a lot of sense in terms of how entertainment conglomerates are operating right now. A lot of times you have these companies trying to figure out how they can combine different properties and bringing them into one thing to up the ante for the audience. Our script takes a very macro look at that, but from a meta story perspective. LeBron kind of becomes a very meta cog in that machine."

Space Jam: A New Legacy
Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures

As for how the historic WB film vault is utilized in New Legacy, to put together his team to go against Al G's Goon Squad, James drifts through some of the studio's most famous properties to track down the Looney Tunes, including a banished Bugs.

"You can look at the WB catalog and just see how many things they have in the archives," James says. "And for me to be able to travel through and be part of Wonder Woman, Casablanca, The Matrix, it was incredible. We were able to dive into some of those worlds, along with some other ones that… I gave you a couple, but I want to save some for the film. I couldn't believe it, to see some of the live footage that we were able to shoot, along with some of the digital and animation stuff to just bring it all together."

But what sounds like a dream come true for a filmmaker wasn't all fun and games for director Malcolm D. Lee (The Best Man, Girls Trip). "It was a tricky thing just in terms of what you may want, like, 'Oh my God, look, there's Mad Max, and there's Casablanca!'" Lee explains, although no films or properties have yet to be confirmed. "But in picking the titles, is it going to be funny? That's always the balance. You may want a title and [they] say, 'Well, the people who own that title, we at the studio do own it, but we may not be able to use [it].' There's a lot of trial and error."

Space Jam: A New Legacy
Credit: Justin Lubin/Warner Bros.

In addition to entering these beloved worlds, Lee teases, "we have a lot of the WB characters at the game, watching like they do at Rucker Park," referencing the historic New York City street court.

One hint of a possible fan: [SPOILER] ain't got s--- on Denzel.

Space Jam: A New Legacy premieres July 16 in theaters and on HBO Max.

To read more on Space Jam: A New Legacyorder the April issue of Entertainment Weekly or find it on newsstands beginning March 19. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

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