First Look at Nike’s ‘Space Jam’ Collections, New LeBron Sneaker
LeBron James on the big screen is a big deal — big enough for Nike to use the opportunity to tease the latest iteration of his signature shoe: the LeBron 19.
James will be featured in “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” a sequel to the live action/animated 1996 film starring Michael Jordan and Warner Bros.’ “Looney Tunes” posse taking on a group of aliens on the court.
In addition to James, the 2021 version by Warner Bros. Animation Group and SpringHill Entertainment will star Don Cheadle as evil computer algorithm AI-G Rhythm, Zendaya as Lola Bunny and a slew of bold-faced basketball names including Damian Lillard, Chris Paul, Anthony Davis and the WNBA’s Diana Taurasi and Nneka Ogwumike. The plot centers around James and his son being trapped in a virtual reality world ruled by a rogue AI and the only way they can escape is by employing the Looney Tunes characters to beat the virtual avatars of real-life basketball stars in a match.
In a media preview last week, James pointed to Jordan as one of his heroes growing up along with Bugs Bunny and the other “Looney Tunes” characters, so he was eager to take on a starring role in the long-awaited sequel. “The game of basketball resonates with everyone in the world,” he said. “And when you add cartoons and laughter, it’s a recipe for success.”
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He also pointed to the heartwarming message of fatherhood, particularly Black fatherhood, portrayed in the film. James is a father of three in real life.
The original film was a windfall for Warner Bros., bringing in more than $90 million at the box office in the U.S. and $230 million worldwide. The merchandise sales totals associated with the film were even more enormous, hitting some $1 billion worldwide. So it’s no wonder Warner Bros. has lined up more than 200 brands to create products for the new film.
With James being involved, Nike was all in since the NBA star has been on its roster since 2003 and his footwear, apparel and accessories bring in more than $600 million a year for the brand, according to sneaker guru Nick DePaula. Nike wouldn’t confirm the number, but did say the athlete’s products historically ranks in the top two bestselling basketball product across men’s, women’s and children’s every year.
The LeBron 19 shoe has a double-chambered Air Max unit in the heel and a newly shaped Zoom Air forefoot unit, features that Nike Basketball footwear designer Jason Petrie said were inspired by the futuristic feel of the movie.
“In designing the LeBron 19, we were definitely guided by what was happening in the film,” he said. “We wanted to give LeBron a brand-new feeling that was synonymous with an otherworldly, space-age kind of look.”
Although the LeBron 19 won’t be available commercially until the fall, Nike and its sister brand Converse are introducing a comprehensive collection of “Space Jam” product in July around the time of the film’s debut on the 16th.
That includes three styles of the LeBron 18 Low in adult and kids sizes in bright colors inspired by the Tune Squad uniforms in the film and featuring images of longtime rivals Bugs Bunny and Marvin the Martian, Tweety Bird and Sylvester and Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote. They will retail for $160. There are also toddler versions of the shoe for $85 or $90.
Converse will offer a Lola Bunny Pro Leather sneaker with a perforated upper, a fur Star Chevron logo and a pink mesh lining that will retail for $100 as well as reworked Chuck Taylor 70s or All Stars for $120.
In terms of apparel, Nike Basketball will offer two uniform styles in its Dri-Fit fabric: the Tune Squad and the Good Squad, with the jerseys retailing for $120 and the shorts for $90. There is also a Tune Squad jacket for $200.
Converse’s apparel offering encompasses a Court Ready pullover hoodie for $95, T-shirt for $50, shorts for $85 and a 360 backpack for $90.
“The biggest moment in the movie for our characters is the final game,” said Maverick Carter, the film’s producer. “It culminates into this epic showdown with real consequences for everyone playing. The game matters. So when a kid sees the characters wearing Nike gear, their imagination makes the connection that Nike gives you the tools to uncover the best version of yourself.”
The collections will be sold on the Nike and Snkrs website and at select retailers.
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