*Good news for LeBron James and Ryan Coogler fans. The NBA star and the director of the record breaking “Black Panther” are hooking up on the long-anticipated follow-up to “Space Jam,” the Michael Jordan-Bugs Bunny hit from 1996.
Here’s the deal. Coogler will produce the new “Space Jam” film while Terence Nance (HBO’s “Random Acts of Flyness”) will direct. As of now, the Warner Bros. film is scheduled to begin production in the 2019 NBA off-season. And yes, it will star James in the role Michael Jordan occupied in the original film. It will also be James’ first starring role after a successful turn as a supporting character in the 2015 Amy Schumer comedy “Trainwreck.”
Obviously getting Coogler is a HUGE deal. The super hot director, whose credits also include “Creed” and “Fruitvale Station,” is among the industry’s most sought-after artists. Not only did Black Panther break ground as a superhero movie from a black perspective with a black cast, but it has set a number of box-office benchmarks on its way to grossing $1.34 billion worldwide, including becoming the highest-grossing film ever by a black director.
“I loved his vision” for Black Panther, James tells The Hollywood Reporter, noting that when he was a kid growing up in Akron, Ohio, there were no black superheroes. “So for Ryan to be able to bring that to kids, it’s amazing.”
— SpringHill Ent. (@SpringHillEnt) September 19, 2018
Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter:
Space Jam has been long-rumored, with various directors and writers attached to the project over the years, including at one point Justin Lin, the action auteur behind the Fast & Furious movies. The movement on the project coincides with James’ recent surge in Hollywood film and TV projects as a producer. Just last week, NBC and The CW announced separate shows in development with James’ SpringHill Entertainment.
The subtext of a James-headlined Space Jam sequel is the raging GOAT debate between James (who still has years left in the NBA) and Jordan (who has six NBA championships), players with pronounced personality differences. Jordan was a global superstar and endorsement king when he made the original 1996 film, which pulled in about $250 million worldwide and is still the highest-grossing basketball movie of all time. Space Jam was chock-full of cameos from NBA players (and Warner Bros.’ Looney Toons). So it’s safe to assume the new iteration will include a plethora of basketball’s biggest stars, especially given James’ stature in the league. It’s unclear at this point, however, if Jordan will be among those featured.
“The Space Jam collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie,” says James, “It’s so much bigger. I’d just love for kids to understand how empowered they can feel and how empowered they can be if they don’t just give up on their dreams. And I think Ryan did that for a lot of people.”
We’ll be in line to see it when it’s released, that’s for sure.