NBA star LeBron James now plays for the Los Angeles Lakers, but basketball isn’t all he has planned when it comes to doing business in California. Space Jam 2, the sequel to the 1996 comedy that paired Michael Jordan with Bugs Bunny and the rest of the Looney Tunes, will film in California, Variety reported Monday. Ryan Coogler, the director of Creed and Black Panther, is the film’s producer.
According to the report, Space Jam 2 has received a $21.8 million tax credit from California’s Film & TV Tax Credit Program 2.0. It’s one of 15 upcoming movies that will receive a portion of the $73.3 million from the credit.
“One of the goals for Program 2.0 is to bring production jobs and spending to regions across the state, and we’re beginning to see that happen more often and on a larger scale,” Amy Lemisch, California Film Commission’s executive director, told Variety. “We’re thrilled to see Program 2.0 have such far-reaching benefits.”
Other films receiving the credit include Palm Springs (directed by Andy Samberg), a Lionsgate film called Margeritaville, and films titled The Boy Who Knew Too Much, 24/7, Janis, Lexi, Luminous, Marlowe, Marry Me, Mouseguard, Stuck at the Office, Unicona and The Walk. The tax credit is part of a push to bring more film production back to the state, after Georgia and other locations have begun to lure major productions, including much of Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe, with tax credits of their own.
The original Space Jam, which featured Michael Jordan assisting Bugs Bunny and friends in their battle with the alien Monstars, was also mostly filmed in California. It was only a modest hit when it was released in the fall of 1996, but has gradually grown into a cult favorite.
A sequel was rumored for many years until a tweet in September from the account of SpringHill Entertainment, the production company of James and his business partner, Maverick Carter, teased that Space Jam 2 was on the way. The tweet featured a photo of a series of lockers, including those belonging to James, Coogler, director Terence Nance (of the HBO show Random Acts of Flyness), and “B. Bunny.”
A summer 2019 production would make sense, as the NBA season runs through June, and James’ teams have played in the NBA Finals eight years in a row.
Even before jumping to the Lakers, James has made several incursions into the entertainment industry. He had a comical supporting turn in the 2015 Amy Schumer movie Trainwreck, and has produced such projects as Starz sitcom Survivor’s Remorse and the HBO talk show, The Shop.