Warner Bros. made a point of releasing all its 2021 movies on HBO Max, and the service’s next big movie is an appropriate nod to the digital world. The studio has released the first trailer for Space Jam: A New Legacy, and it’s more of an ode to sci-fi than you might think. The movie has LeBron James whisked into a “Matrix hell” where he has to play basketball against a supervillain-like Goon Squad to rescue his son. That involves enlisting Bugs Bunny and friends for his squad, of course, but the references go further than that.
James can count on help from The Iron Giant‘s namesake robot, for starters. The movie also makes nods to the technological progress in the 25 years since the original Space Jam with Michael Jordan. The Tune Squad transforms from flat cartoons into CG-animated characters (or a real body, in James’ case), players score video game-like points, and the above-the-court display even shows a social media follower count.
A New Legacy premieres both on HBO Max and in theaters on July 16th. We wouldn’t expect it to be a transcendent cinematic experience, but it also won’t cost you more to watch than a Max subscription. It may be easy to justify if you’re still stuck at home due to the pandemic, or just don’t want the hassles of visiting the theater. It’s also one of the bigger tests of Warner’s strategy —if the new Space Jam proves a success on HBO Max, it could both boost the service’s profile and lead to more big-name movies on Max.