EXCLUSIVE: Even with the NBA restart in high gear, LeBron James’ SpringHill Entertainment continues to stay busy building its feature film slate into a dominant presence. We are hearing Universal Pictures has acquired rights to New Kid, the 2019 graphic novel by Jerry Craft, with SpringHill on board to develop and produce. New Kid is the first graphic novel to win the coveted Newbery award as well as the Coretta Scott King Award. The SpringHill Company optioned the award-winning novel last year.
The graphic novel was highly coveted by several other buyers but SpringHill — specifically SpringHill co-founder Maverick Carter — was so touched by the story that they aggressively went after it, eventually landing rights. The project is now a high priority for SpringHill with hopes of attaching a writer to adapt the material shortly.
James and Carter will produce with Jamal Henderson and Spencer Beighley overseeing the project as executive producers for The SpringHill Company. Craft will also executive produce.
The story follows, Jordan Banks, who experiences culture shock when he enrolls at a private school.
Even as James delivers another MVP season on the court, his drive along with Carter’s to build SpringHill Entertainment into a powerhouse media company has not wavered. They are in post-production on Space Jam 2, which James is also starring in, and their Netflix limited series Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker., which was produced by SpringHill and recently earned Octavia Spencer an Emmy nomination for actress in a limited series. They are also producing the Netflix pic Hustle with Adam Sandler recently signing on to star.
Carter and James have also raised $100 million from backers including Guggenheim Partners and Elisabeth Murdoch and are now consolidating their trio of media companies into a single entity, SpringHill, which is aiming to serve as a multifaceted platform to empower Black creators and audiences. On the TV side, SpringHill also landed a first-look deal with ABC Studios for scripted series.
Craft, the New York Times bestselling author, is represented by Judy Hansen and Hansen Literary, WME and Darren Trattner at Jackoway, Austen. James and The SpringHill Company are represented by WME and Ziffren Brittenham LLP.