LeBron James and Maverick Carter Photographer: George Pimentel/WireImage
Basketball star LeBron James and his partner Maverick Carter have signed a deal with Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal aimed at producing film and television projects about sports and culture.
The deal gives Universal a first look at entertainment projects from James’s production company, SpringHill Co., for four years. The studio and SpringHill have already started work on one film, an adaption of the book “Shooting Stars,” which is based on the three-time NBA champion’s life.
Sports stories have always been popular with audiences, and fans increasingly want a look into the lives of their favorite athletes. Earlier this year, ESPN and Netflix executives said their joint 10-part documentary on the life of basketball legend Michael Jordan, “The Last Dance,” was one of their best-watched programs.
An agreement with James, perhaps the most well-known NBA player, is a boon for Universal and adds to its repertoire of big stars who have paired with the studio to tell their life stories. Earlier this month, Universal signed a movie deal with Madonna.
“LeBron, Maverick and the team at SpringHill are content creators with a purpose, and we’re excited to partner with filmmakers who challenge us to tell stories that move culture forward,” Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, said in a statement.
SpringHill was formed earlier this year with a $100 million investment, and aims to also tell stories about current cultural events. James and childhood friend Carter said in an interview in June they’re specifically hoping to give overlooked creators — especially people of color — a vehicle to create entertainment.
Universal didn’t give a release date for the “Shooting Stars” film, but said it would be directed by Chris Robinson, who is known for directing music videos from Jay-Z, Nas and Usher, among others. SpringHill’s other projects include “New Kid,” based on a graphic novel, and “Catch the Wave,” based on an original pitch by Ali Kinney.
James, 35, also is starring in a Warner Bros. sequel to “Space Jam” that is slated to be released next year. And he had a well-reviewed role as himself in the 2015 comedy “Trainwreck.”