LeBron James Teams Up With Ryan Coogler For What Could Become A ‘Space Jam’ Franchise

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Basketball superstar-turned-entertainment-mogul LeBron James has teamed up with “Black Panther” co-writer and director Ryan Coogler on a new “Space Jam” movie, 20 years after the original was released and became highest-grossing basketball film of all time.

Filming is tentatively set to begin during the 2019 NBA off-season, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

This combination photo shows Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James during an NBA basketball game against the Phoenix Suns in Phoenix on March 13, 2018, left, and filmmaker Ryan Coogler at the world premiere of “A Wrinkle in Time” in Los Angeles on Feb. 26, 2018. James’ production company SpringHill Entertainment tweeted Wednesday that Coogler will produce “Space Jam 2,” the sequel to the 1996 movie that featured Michael Jordan alongside Warner Bros.’ animated characters. “Random Acts of Flyness” creator Terence Nance will direct James in the film. (AP Photo)

 

The original hit, “Space Jam” starred basketball great Michael Jordan. The new movie will feature James in his first starring role since playing a supporting character in the 2015 Amy Schumer comedy “Trainwreck.”

James has had an office at the Warners Bros. lot since 2016. He started SpringHill Entertainment in 2008 with childhood friend Maverick Carter.

In an interview earlier this month, James and Carter insisted that their version of “Space Jam” will not be a sequel but it could be the beginning of a new franchise. “There’s already been one that was good, we gotta make a film that’s great,” Carter said. Still, everyone’s calling it a sequel.

The new “Space Jam” announcement underscores the GOAT debate raging among basketball fans over which star — Jordan or James — is the greatest of all time.

Coogler is one of the most sought-after artists in the industry, and getting him is a coup, according to Hollywood reporter. “Black Panther” was a groundbreaking superhero movie with a Black perspective and a black cast. It made box-office history as the highest-grossing film ever by a Black director and is on its way to grossing $1.34 billion worldwide.

There were no Black superstars when he was growing up, James told Hollywood Reporter. “I loved (Coogler’s) vision” for ‘Black Panther.” So for Ryan to be able to bring that to kids, it’s amazing.”

James has had a recent surge in Hollywood film and TV projects as a producer. Most recently, NBC and The CW each announced shows in development with James’ SpringHill Entertainment.

Released in 1996, the original “Space Jam” was a live-action/animated sports comedy film starring Jordan and Looney Tunes cartoon characters. It got mixed reviews from critics. For example, Rotten Tomatoes rated it 38 percent based on 55 reviews.

However, audiences voted with their wallets and the film opened at No. 1 in the U.S., grossing more than $230 million worldwide. Box Office Mojo ranked it the highest-grossing basketball film of all-time.

James will do better in new ‘Space Jam’ than Jordan did, ESPN commentator Stephen A. Smith said. “Did you see LeBron in ‘Trainwreck’? He was really good.”