Kyrie Irving‘s alter ego Uncle Drew is a senior citizen with impressive skills on the basketball court. The Boston Celtics star popularized the character in short films and TV commercials for Pepsi.
Uncle Drew will be featured in his own movie that opens in theaters on July 29. But history shows that films starring NBA players usually don’t translate into box office success.
Uncle Drew stars Tiffany Haddish, WNBA MVP Lisa Leslie and NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal.
Critics say Uncle Drew is engaging in a short film format, but the big-screen version is like quenching your thirst with “zero-calorie sugar water.”
The movie is brimming with brand placements (Nike is everywhere), and Kyrie is amusing as the trash-talking senior citizen. But it’s doubtful that NBA fans will turn out in droves at the box office.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the most expensive NBA movie ever was Warner Bros.’ Space Jam (1996). The animation film starring Michael Jordan earned just $90 million domestically.
And Shaquille O’Neal’s genie-in-a-bottle comedy movie Kazaam that same year brought in just $19 million in the U.S.
Warner Bros. will take another stab at reviving Space Jam, starring LeBron James taking on Bugs Bunny. LeBron’s stiff acting and flat delivery is almost as cringe-worthy as Jordan was in the original.