LeBron James has been chasing his first feature film almost as long as he chased his first championship. Attached to a new co-star, comedian Kevin Hart, James is giving a comedy about an adult fantasy basketball camp another chance.
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Hart, who has become close to James and several other members of the Miami Heat over the past few years, will write a movie called “Ballers” that will portray him as the lesser-known brother of an NBA star (James) who attends the fantasy camp. The movie is tentatively scheduled to be shot next summer in Miami.
Hollywood media outlets are already comparing the pairing to the movie “Twins,” when Danny DeVito played opposite Arnold Schwarzenegger 25 years ago. Hart is 5-foot-3, James is 6-8.
Hart is involved in numerous projects at the moment, and so is James, who in addition to his play with the Heat is developing a basketball sitcom for the Starz channel that he’s currently not planning to star in.
The movie idea first got off the ground in 2008, when James played for the Cleveland Cavaliers. By 2009, well-known producer Brian Grazer and his production company, Imagine Entertainment, were attached, and a script called “Fantasy Basketball Camp” was written.
Eventually, Universal Pictures signed on, and all parties and James picked director Malcolm Lee, who directed the current hit “The Best Man Holiday.” They were chasing actors like Craig Robinson to star next to James in the movie that had been rebranded “Ballers.”
That movie was scheduled to shoot in the summer of 2010 in Las Vegas but was ultimately put on hold. Although it was widely assumed the studio pulled the plug in the wake of the negative publicity that followed James after his “Decision” broadcast, the movie was actually scrapped before James announced he was signing with the Heat. It has been in various stages of development ever since, with James and his business partner, Maverick Carter, as executive producers.
Ironically, Dwyane Wade hosts his own adult fantasy basketball camp every year in Miami. But Wade, who is also friends with Hart, is not a part of this project. Wade is working on his own sitcom for Fox called “Three the Hard Way,” about an NBA star who is a single father.
James does have a movie on his résumé. In 2009, a documentary about James’ high school years called “More Than a Game” was released in theaters nationwide. It made about $1 million at the box office and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for best documentary.