Warner Bros. Studios Built Michael Jordan a Dome to Practice While He Filmed ‘Space Jam’

Michael Jordan stunned the sports world when he announced his retirement from basketball in 1993. During his 18-month separation from the court, Jordan played professional baseball, which was a lifelong dream of his. He returned to basketball with the Chicago Bulls near the end of the 1995 season and got right back into the swing of things.

While Jordan was certainly talented, it was obvious that he was not in the same shape he was pre-retirement. He needed to spend the off-season working to get back to his prime. The problem was he’d already signed on to star in the Warner Bros. film Space Jam, which was slated for release the following year. 

As production for Space Jam ramped up, Jordan found it difficult to maintain his practice schedule. He had a conversation with the studio, saying practice needed to be his first priority. Knowing Jordan could potentially halt production of the film, the studio offered to build him a practice space near the set. The facility would later be known as the “dome.”

Inside the Warner Bros. custom-built dome for Michael Jordan to practice

Jordan spoke about how the dome came about in episode 8 of the ESPN documentary The Last Dance. The facility was state of the art and had everything he needed for adequate practice and workout sessions. 

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“They had imported the court from Long Beach State University,” Jordan recalled in the documentary, as noted by the Los Angeles Times. There was also “a whole gamut of weight and lifting machines.” 

For his downtime, the dome featured a large lounge, putting green, refrigerator, gambling table, and mega speakers pumping out music.

Jordan practiced on a two-hour break daily between filming, as well as before and after filming ended.

Outside of playing, Jordan spent much of his time building muscle and getting his body ready for the physicality of the game. He’d transformed his body to play baseball, so he used the gym equipment and his trainer to readjust his body for the court. 

‘Space Jam’ became a cult classic

Space Jam was released in 1996 ahead of the anticipated Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday blockbuster season. The film centers on a fictionalized account of what took place between Jordan’s 1993 retirement and his 1995 comeback. He enlists the help of the Looney Tunes to win a basketball game against a group of aliens who plan to trap them as attractions for their theme park.

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While the film received mixed reviews from critics, it was a fan favorite and box office success. Space Jam opened at No. 1 at the U.S. box office. It was filmed and produced with a budget of around $80 million but grossed over $230 million worldwide and became the highest-grossing basketball film of all time. 

A sequel starring LeBron James is slated to be released in July 2021.