‘Black Panther’ director Ryan Coogler gets assist on LeBron James’ ‘Space Jam 2’

Not only is the long-rumored Space Jam sequel with LeBron James happening, it has its own Hollywood MVP behind the scenes, too.

Black Panther director Ryan Coogler will serve as producer on Space Jam 2, which will be directed by up-and-coming filmmaker Terence Nance, who created HBO’s Random Acts of Flyness sketch comedy series. Production on the film is expected to begin in 2019, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Rumors that a Lebron James-fronted Space Jam sequel would come to fruition have been in circulation for years, but James made it official via a post on his production studio’s Instagram account, SpringHill Entertainment. The announcement follows several other projects that were green-lit for development at the studio for NBC and The CW.

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Space Jam 2 will be James’ first starring role after a well-received supporting performance in comedian Amy Schumer’s 2015 film Trainwreck.

“The Space Jam collaboration is so much more than just me and the Looney Tunes getting together and doing this movie,” said James in a statement accompanying the announcement. “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 (Coogler) did that for a lot of people.”

The original, 1996 Space Jam is a beloved, family-friendly classic that featured Warner Bros.’ iconic animated Looney Tunes characters, including Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck, joining with NBA legend Michael Jordan to battle a group of talent-stealing space aliens. Bill Murray played a memorable supporting role in the original film, which was packed with cameos by popular NBA players of the time.

The announcement of the film’s creative team comes after several changes behind the scenes on the project over the years.

Fast & Furious 3-6 and Star Trek Beyond director Justin Lin was initially reported to be in talks with Warner Brothers to helm the project. That version of the film was set to be penned by Bad Words writer Andrew Dodge, and it’s unknown whether a new script is being drafted for the project for Nance or if the earlier script had even been completed.

There’s currently no release date set for the film, but production is scheduled during the NBA off-season to accommodate James — and likely to allow for plenty of cameos from current NBA players, too.

Updated on September 19, 2018: Added new creative team news and production timeline.

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