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Space Jam: A New Legacy (also known as Space Jam 2) is the 2021 American live-action/animated sports comedy film directed by Malcolm D. Lee. Serving as a sequel to Space Jam (1996), it will mark the first theatrically-released film to feature the Looney Tunes characters since Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003), and like the previous hybrid films, it will be a combination of live-action, traditional hand-drawn 2D animation, and 3D CGI effects. The film stars basketball player LeBron James as a fictionalized version of himself along with Don Cheadle, Ben Affleck, Tye Sheridan, Cedric Joe, Jack Nicholson, Ben Mendelsohn and T.J. Miller in live-action roles, while Jeff Bergman, Tom Hanks and Zendaya headline the Looney Tunes voice cast.

Talks for a Space Jam successor began after the release of the first film which Joe Pytka would have returned to direct and Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone signed on as the animation supervisors but eventually fell through due to Michael Jordan's refusal to return. Several possible spin-offs, focusing on other athletes, including Jeff Gordon, Tiger Woods, and Tony Hawk, were also discussed, but never came to fruition. After several years of languishing, a LeBron James-led sequel was officially announced in 2014 with filming beginning under Nance in June 2019 around Los Angeles. After a few weeks into filming, Nance left the project and Lee was hired to replace him in July 2019.

Space Jam: A New Legacy is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on July 16, 2021, both in theaters and on HBO Max- Movie - Fox for a month after its theatrical release.

Premise

When basketball champion and global icon LeBron James and his young son Dom (Cedric Joe) – who dreams of being a video game developer rather than follow his father's footsteps – find themselves trapped in Serververse, a virtual space ruled by a rogue A.I. named Al-G Rhythm (Don Cheadle), LeBron must save his son and get them home safe by leading Bugs Bunny, Batman, Parzival, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Lola Bunny and the whole gang of notoriously undisciplined Looney Tunes and Warner Bros. Heroes to win a basketball match against Al-G's digitized champions on the court, the Goon Squad: a team of powered-up virtual avatars of professional basketball stars as you’ve never seen them before. It’s Tunes versus Goons in the highest-stakes challenge of his life, that will redefine LeBron’s bond with his son and shine a light on the power of being yourself.

Cast

Songs and Music

  • "Jump" Performed by Edward Van Halen
  • "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" Performed by Tears for Fears
  • "Merrily We Roll Along" Written by Murray Mencher, Charles Tobias and Eddie Cantor
  • "Batman Reprise Theme" Performed by Danny Elfman
  • "The King's Arrival from Game of Thrones" Written by Ramin Djawadi
  • "Hary's Wonderous World" Written by John Williams
  • "We're off to see the Wizard" Written by E.Y. Harburg and Harold Arlen
  • "Hot Chocolate" Performed by Tom Hanks
  • "Superman Theme" Performed by John Williams
  • "Batman Theme" Performed by Neal Hefti
  • "Run Wild" Performed by Thutmose feat. NoMBe
  • "Soul Bossa Nova" Written by Quincy Jones and Performed by George S. Clinton
  • "Mini-Me from Austin Powers: The Spy who Shagged Me" Conducted by George S. Clinton
  • "As Time Goes By" Written by Herman Hupfield and Performed by Dooley Wilson
  • "Main Title/Trinity Infinity and Various Score Cues from The Matrix" Conducted by Don Davis
  • "Is She With You? (Wonder Woman's Theme) from Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice" Written by Hans Zimmer
  • "Fighting in Field from Wonder Woman" Written by Rupert-Gregson Williams and David Buckley
  • "Crowd Go Crazy" Performed by John Legend
  • "The Polar Express" Performed by Tom Hanks
  • "We Win" Performed by Lil Baby and Kirk Franklin
  • "We're not gonna take It" Performed by Twisted Sister
  • "Space Jam: Rap Battle" Performed by Eric Bauza
  • "Everything's Not Awesome" Performed by Tye Sheridan, Ben Affleck, Tom Hanks and Warner Bros. Ensemble
  • "Man in the Mirror" Performed by Alex Aliono
  • "BBC" Performed by Ming Tea feat. Austin Powers
  • "You Wouldn't Know" Performed by Ellen McClain

Production

Development

A sequel to Space Jam was planned as early as 1996, shortly after the original film was released in theaters worldwide. As development began, Space Jam 2 was going to involve a new basketball competition between Michael Jordan and the Looney Tunes and Berserk-O!, a new villain who was planned to voiced by Mel Brooks. Artist Bob Camp was tasked with designing Berserk-O! and his henchmen. Joe Pytka would have returned to direct and Spike Brandt and Tony Cervone signed on as the animation supervisors. However, Michael Jordan did not agree to star in a sequel. According to Camp, a producer lied to design artists by claiming that Jordan had signed on in order to keep development going. Warner Bros. eventually cancelled plans for Space Jam 2.

The potential sequel reentered development as Spy Jam and was to star Jackie Chan in a different script. The studio was also planning a film titled Race Jam which would have starred Jeff Gordon. Additionally, Pytka revealed that following the first film's success, he had been pitched a story for a sequel that would have starred professional golfer Tiger Woods, with Jordan in a smaller role. Pytka explained how the idea came from an out-of-studio script conference, with people who worked on the original film allegedly involved. Producer Ivan Reitman was reportedly in favor of a film which would again star Jordan. The follow-up films were ultimately cancelled in favor of Looney Tunes: Back in Action (2003). A film titled Skate Jam was in early development with Tony Hawk in the starring role. Plans were underway for production to begin immediately following the release of Looney Tunes: Back in Action, but were canceled due to the poor financial performance of said film despite improved critical reception to Space Jam.

Resurgence

In February 2014, Warner Bros. officially announced development of a sequel that will star LeBron James. Charlie Ebersol was set to produce, while Willie Ebersol wrote the script. By May of the same year, James was quoted as saying, "I've always loved Space Jam. It was one of my favorite movies growing up. If I have the opportunity, it will be great." In July 2015, James and his film studio, SpringHill Entertainment, signed a deal with Warner Bros. for television, film and digital content after receiving positive reviews for his role in Trainwreck. By 2016, Justin Lin signed onto the project as director, and co-screenwriter with Andrew Dodge and Alfredo Botello. Professional player Kobe Bryant also expressed an interest in directing the film, though he was uninterested in a cameo appearance. By August 2018, Lin left the project, and Terence Nance was hired to direct the film. In September 2018, Ryan Coogler was announced as a producer for the film. SpringHill Entertainment released a promotional teaser image officially announcing the film, with production set to begin in 2019 during the NBA off-season. Filming was to take place in California within a 30 mile radius of Los Angeles. By April 2019, Coogler and Sev Ohanian were rewriting the script. Final screenplay credit would ultimately go to Juel Taylor, Tony Rettenmaier, Keenan Coogler, Terance Nance. Prior to production, the film received $21.8 million in tax credits as a result of a new tax incentive program from the state.

Filming

Principal photography began on June 25, 2019. On July 16, 2019, it was announced Nance was leaving the project because he and "the studio/producers had different takes on the creative vision for Space Jam 2", and that Malcolm D. Lee would serve as his replacement. Bradford Young, who was set to serve as cinematographer, also left the project and was replaced by Salvatore Totino.

Among locations used for filming included the Sheats–Goldstein Residence owned by James Goldstein, including turning its tennis court temporarily into a basketball court for the shooting. Production wrapped on September 16, 2019. The production spent at total of $183.7 million filming in California, receiving $21.8 million in tax rebates from the state. James held a farewell meeting talking about how he idolized with the first Space Jam film when he was a kid in Akron, Ohio, when the production wrapped, which was later leaked on August 16, 2020, along with pictures of James with his #6 Tune Squad outfit. A scene filmed under Nance's direction in June 2019 involving Pepé Le Pew attempting to flirt with a bartender (portrayed by Greice Santo), only to be rebuffed, was deleted. This decision was later met with backlash among many fans, who accused the studio of double standards by removing the character while allowing a cameo of Alex and his droogs, a gang that commits severe violence and sexual assaults in the 1971 film A Clockwork Orange, to be retained. The film's trailer revealed that Elmer Fudd and Yosemite Sam will be allowed to appear with their trademark guns in the film; since HBO Max's Looney Tunes Cartoons, a ban had been enacted to not depict fire weapons due to all mass shootings and gun violence in the United States.

In March 2020, photos taken on set and a brief recording of the wrap party were leaked online, revealing that the film will feature characters from other Warner-owned properties. In April 2020, James officially revealed the title and logo of the film, as Space Jam: A New Legacy. Don Cheadle stated that LeBron had an injury he suffered during production, while the filmmakers had a rigorous schedule and shot 14 hours a day. By October 2020, the synopsis was leaked from a test screening email by Ben Mekler.

Animation and visual effects

Lucasfilm's visual effects division Industrial Light & Magic was hired to create the visual effects for Space Jam 2. This is the second collaboration with the Looney Tunes in using ILM for visual effects since Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988).

In January 2020, veteran Walt Disney Animation Studios animator Tony Bancroft, was hired at Warner Bros. Animation to work on the film. In March 2020, James announced that work on the film's animation had commenced, while also revealing that the production had largely been unaffected by the COVID-19 pandemic as most of the remaining work involves animation. That same month, a Warner Bros. Animation veteran Spike Brandt, was named as director of animation.

In July 2020, Dan Haskett, who has worked on the Looney Tunes since 1979, was hired to work in the animation department as well. Matt Williames, who has not worked with Warner Bros. since Looney Tunes: Back in Action, started doing animation for the movie in August of the same year. In May 2020, Ole Loken who worked extensively on animation hit Klaus, announced that he will serve as an animator on the film. By October, Loken shared the design for Lola Bunny and Daffy Duck online, revealing that A New Legacy will stay true to previous designs of the Looney Tunes characters. Despite this, Lola's final design was adjusted to be less sexualized than the first film. The film will include both traditional and CG animation.

Music

In January 2020, Hans Zimmer was announced as the composer for the film. By April of the same year, Kris Bowers was announced to be working with Zimmer as co-composers. However, in January 2021, it was officially confirmed that Bowers will receive sole credit.

Marketing

On April 3, 2021, the first trailer was released online and revealed a number of references and cameos of characters from franchises owned by Warner Bros. Pictures, including various Hanna-Barbera shows, Animaniacs, Game of Thrones, Mad Max, The Lord of the Rings, Batman '66 TV series, Burton/Schumacher's Batman, Superman, Wizarding World, Wonder Woman, The Matrix, The Hobbit, and ThunderCats; as well as films, such as The Wizard of Oz, The Maltese Falcon, King Kong, A Clockwork Orange, The Mask, Smallfoot, Casablanca, The Goonies, What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?, The Iron Giant, and It, among many others. Jordan Hoffman from Vanity Fair compared the trailer to Disney's Tron franchise and fellow Warner Bros. film Ready Player One.

Merchandise

In July 2020, a hat with the film's logo became available on the WB shop website. On September 1, 2020, it was announced that Australian toy company Moose Toys made a deal with Warner Bros. to make merchandise for the film along with the 2021 live-action/animated Tom and Jerry hybrid film. Hasbro also made a deal with Warners to make two Space Jam: A New Legacy versions of their board game properties Monopoly and Connect Four.

Release

Space Jam: A New Legacy is scheduled to be released by Warner Bros. Pictures in theaters in the United States on July 16, 2021 in RealD 3D and IMAX. It will also simultaneously be released on HBO Max, available for subscribers to view free of cost for one month. In September 2020, SpringHill Co. Entertainment signed a 4-year contract with Universal Pictures, making this their fourth and final independent production.

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