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Space Jam 2 Cast, Release Date, Director, And More

Released to theaters in November 1996, Space Jam became an instant classic sports movie, not to mention a Millennial cultural touchstone. The novel plot involved the Toon Squad, a basketball team of classic Looney Tunes characters, squaring off against the Monstars, an alien team which had the competitive edge after stealing the talents of the NBA's biggest stars. Fortunately, the Toons recruit Michael Jordan, a.k.a. the best and most famous basketball player on Earth, and on their way to basketball and galactic glory, engage in silly cartoon hijinks while backed by a hit soundtrack featuring songs by Seal, Monica, and Toon Squad member Bugs Bunny himself.

Space Jam proved a worldwide blockbuster, making a sequel inevitable. It took a long time to get off the ground, and it's been in the works for the better part of the 2010s. Now, it's finally on its way, hitting theaters in the not-so-distant future. Replacing Jordan in the film: the heir apparent to His Airness's throne, NBA superstar LeBron James. Of course, the cartoon characters will be back, too. Here's everything else there is to know about Space Jam 2.

Who's in the cast of Space Jam 2?

The original Space Jam not only deftly mixed live action with animation, but it also combined a cast of acting-neophyte athletes with veteran comic performers. On the jock side, Space Jam starred Michael Jordan, with appearances from Charles Barkley and Larry Bird, while Bill Murray and Wayne Knight (Newman from Seinfeld) represented the funny side. Billy West (known for a stunning list of classic characters from Futurama, Ren and StimpyDoug, and so much more) led the voice cast on the project, portraying Bugs Bunny and Elmer Fudd.

Space Jam 2 will take a similar approach. Heading up the cast is basketball legend (and Trainwreck supporting player) LeBron James, who is also producing the movie via his company, SpringHill Entertainment. In March 2019, Sonequa Martin-Green of Star Trek: Discovery and The Walking Dead joined the cast, set to play James' wife. A few months later, Oscar- and Emmy-nominated actor Don Cheadle signed on to play a role that Deadline reported was "being kept under wraps."

Which NBA players will be in Space Jam 2?

If Space Jam 2 is anything like the first Space Jam from 1996, it's going to feature a lot of interstellar basketball. The most famous and arguably best player of the present day, LeBron James, will step in to the lead role, succeeding the best player of the '90s, original Space Jam star Michael Jordan. The previous film included some of Jordan's contemporaries, and Space Jam 2 looks to follow a similar approach with big stars of the 2010s. In June of 2019, TMZ caught James — and a movie production crew — shooting some hoops on a Los Angeles basketball court which it described as a "movie set."

 The gossip site reported that the scene in progress was an all-star game, and it looked it. Several superstars participated in the shoot, including Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and Draymond Green. Klay Thompson, who tore his ACL in the 2019 NBA Finals, even made an appearance, on crutches. Lillard told NBA.com that he spent 15-hour days working on the film, and that his role is "significant" and "not a cameo."

A few notable basketball stars will definitely not co-star in Space Jam 2. Reigning MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo turned down a role so as to focus on his off-season training regimen. Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry passed on a part, too, because he's too busy. "It was just the timing, to be honest," he told Complex. Oddly, James may not be playing all that much basketball in this basketball movie. Actor Sheldon Bailey, who works as a Hollywood body double and "basketball double" for productions that need realistic looking court scenes, will serve that role specifically for James.

What's the release date for Space Jam 2?

Way back in February 2014, Deadline reported that producer Charlie Ebersol had begun work on a follow-up to Space Jam, with his brother, Willie Ebersol, writing the screenplay. Leading the Toon Squad (and the film): LeBron James. Real progress on the project finally took place in mid-2015, when rights holder Warner Bros. filed some Space Jam-related trademarks and signed a development deal with James. And then another year passed before there was much more momentum, when reports surfaced that Warner Bros. was in talks with a director and had hired some new screenwriters. Finally, after years of metaphorical dribbling and shooting, Warner Bros. and James' production company, SpringHill Entertainment, took the shot in September 2018, announcing that Space Jam 2 was actually, officially happening. 

As the film is set to feature a number of basketball stars, it can't shoot much during the long NBA season, which means it's going to be a while before Space Jam 2 arrives in theaters. In February 2019, SpringHill tweeted out some concept art for the movie — James alongside Bugs and Lola Bunny — as well as a release date: July 16, 2021. That date may have numerical significance. Per sports reporter Rob Perez (via CBS News): July is the seventh month of the year, and if that 7 is added to the 16, it makes 23. That's the longtime jersey number worn by both Space Jam star Michael Jordan and Space Jam 2 star LeBron James.

Who is directing Space Jam 2?

As of May 2016, Fast & Furious 6 director Justin Lin looked to be the front-runner to helm Space Jam 2, but that didn't quite happen. In September 2018, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that Space Jam 2 would be Ryan Coogler's first movie after his directorial blockbuster triumph Black Panther... but as a producer. Handling directorial duties: Terence Nance, an indie darling and experimental filmmaker and animator responsible for the movie The Oversimplification of Her Beauty and the HBO series Random Acts of Flyness. "Growing up being an animator, someone who loves to draw, I'm just super enthused to work in the cannon [sic], learning in a more deep way about it, bringing what I bring from a media innovation standpoint," Nance told Vice.

But by July 2019, Nance was out, and Malcolm D. Lee was in. According to The Wrap, the director of the hit comedies Night School and Girls Trip will work from a script written by Andrew Dodge, whose sole credit to date is the 2013 Jason Bateman comedy Bad Words.

Is there a trailer for Space Jam 2?

No official footage of Space Jam 2 has yet seen release, not even a teaser or trailer. However, Space Jam fans anticipating a teaser almost got to see one in July 2018. Just after the end of the NBA season, the hottest story in basketball was "Where will LeBron James play in 2018-2019?" According to Brandon Robinson of Basketball Society, James planned to announce his new team via the then-new Instagram TV video platform. Then, almost immediately after, James would use the service to drop a trailer of some kind for Space Jam 2. 

King James did go ahead and disclose his move to the Los Angeles Lakers, but no Space Jam 2 trailer emerged. What happened: Basketball Society reported that James and his management decided against posting the teaser because that site's premature leak of the news. A source who worked on the movie told Robinson that the trailer ended with James wearing a Lakers uniform, basically making the teaser also his announcement of his move to L.A.