April Nuggets - what’s up with that design, Doc?

The 90s classic Looney Tunes / live action / sports comedy mash up we all know and love is getting a sequel! Space Jam: a New Legacy comes out on the 16th of July 2021, so obviously we need to analyse and compare the poster design from 1996 to now!

A movie remake or sequel is kind of like a rebrand - most of the time you want to tap into the nostalgia and sentiments of the initial film to bring back the fans (loyal customers). But you want to bring it up to date to the new storyline (evolving brand voice) and modern styles to interest new generations (potential new customers).

With this in mind, and totally from a graphic design perspective, I’m going to compare the poster designs from 1996 to 2021.

1996 poster

This design uses the super popular oversized and obscured main character face style quite common in the 90s and 00s. The cool and dark colours used, with the starry backdrop set the galactic scene for the film.

The main characters are named, even though they are (and were at the time) both well known. This is probably to play into the novelty of a cartoon character playing alongside a sports star. Both not super common in films, much less to play in roles together. They are both smiling and their expressions don’t even hint at any action or drama - seems like a weird/vanilla choice but maybe there were already too many competing ‘out there’ ideas for viewers to think about with, so the designers decided to keep the expressions inviting.

The logo is front and centre, and the only non blue part of the design, this makes it quite prominent, but the visual hierarchy overall isn’t great. It goes against all of my graphic design morals to say this, but the logo should be bigger, (or smaller). Right now the colour contrast makes it take some prominence, but the awkward size makes it compete with the faces and other graphical elements. The tagline ‘Get ready to jam’ is white text set over white (one of the only few white parts of the poster as well), which makes for poor legibility. 

Overall, this poster is inviting and sets the scene pretty well for the film. I secretly like the oversized face style and the starry backdrop. There’s just something nice about the simplicity of it. But the positioning of all elements could definitely be tweaked and improved to make it easier on the viewer.  

2021 poster

This poster is instantly more interesting (although with much less cheesy charm). The logo is the centrepiece, but also the backdrop and the light source. This gives it a mysterious feel, which is great for both long time fans and potential new viewers who may want a piece of the nostalgia.

The main characters are (almost) silhouetted against the logo, allowing us to just make out their expressions and see who they are (although Bugs’ ears make him pretty recognisable anyway). We know it’s going to be a comedy because Bugs Bunny is in it, and LeBron’s pensive expression tells us that it’s probably going to be a bit of a rollercoaster.

The dark colours still give it a space age feel, but instead of a starry backdrop, that classic purpley orange galaxy motif is implied with the coloured smoke. The text below is bright which stands out, but it is small enough that it doesn’t compete with the focal point of the poster: the logo and characters.

Overall, this is a great poster design for a sequel to Space Jam. The mystery implied by having the characters obscure the logo makes us instantly want to find out more. And the less in-your-face presentation of the two already famous main characters makes the viewer feel like they’re discovering something for themselves.

Website design

I was initially sad when I found out that the 1996 Space Jam site had been replaced with the new site. But all is not lost because the 1996 gem can still be accessed! 

That detail though.

Check out the old and new sites for yourself (be prepared for some old fashioned 90s cheese when you visit the old one):



Logo design

I won’t dive fully into the logo designs right now, but I wanted to appreciate the two next to each other: