Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving just missed out on the finals, but his basketball playing septuagenarian Uncle Drew character, created by Pepsi, is back on the court and will star on the big screen for the first time at the end of June.
The feature film, Uncle Drew, opens in theaters June 29, and to celebrate the release from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment label, today (June 5) Pepsi debuts its new Uncle Drew national television advertisement starring the NBA player as his beloved elderly alter ego.
The vignette features Uncle Drew, across different decades – an afro-high 70s look, a jheri curl 80s style, and a 90s high fade in another – looking fly, getting buckets and celebrating his love for the iconic cola, while drinking from limited-edition retro Pepsi cans available all summer.
“Creating the Uncle Drew character with Pepsi and being a part of the creative process has been an incredible experience,” said Irving. “It is very humbling to see what this character has turned into and I’m excited to share what is next.”
Pepsi first brought the fan-favorite Uncle Drew character to the court in May 2012 and has since transformed it into an episodic franchise featuring special guests and NBA talent of the past and present. Whether he is schooling “youngbloods” or teaching players how to “get buckets,” Uncle Drew has captured the attention of more than 100 million YouTube viewers who have an appreciation for his old school love of the sport.
“Bringing Uncle Drew to the big screen has been such a pleasure for us,” said Aziel Rivers, director, Pepsi Marketing. “Since its inception, Uncle Drew has been a hit with our consumers and basketball fans alike, and we’re excited to continue our relationship with the franchise and our close partner, Lionsgate, to share the Uncle Drew movie with our audiences.”
“We’re excited to have the opportunity to expand the Uncle Drew universe through film, and we can’t wait for fans to enjoy the great storytelling, comedy and amazing basketball that our movie has to offer,” said Paula Kupfer, Lionsgate senior vice president of global partnerships and promotions. “We are thrilled to have Pepsi as a trusted partner in celebrating Uncle Drew on and off the big screen.”
The concept of the Uncle Drew movie is: after draining his life savings to enter a team in the Rucker Classic street ball tournament in Harlem, Dax (Lil Rel Howery) is dealt a series of unfortunate setbacks, including losing his team to his longtime rival (Nick Kroll). Desperate to win the tournament and the cash prize, Dax stumbles upon the man, the myth, the legend Uncle Drew (Irving) and convinces him to return to the court one more time. The two men embark on a road trip to round up Drew’s old basketball squad (including Shaquille O’Neal, Chris Webber, Reggie Miller, Nate Robinson, and Lisa Leslie) and prove that a group of seniors can still win the big one.
Uncle Drew is also produced by Temple Hill in association with Pepsi Productions.
Irving was also part of Pepsi's Super Bowl ad, with voice over by Jimmy Fallon.