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The SpringHill Company and Universal Pictures Sign First-Look Film Deal (EXCLUSIVE)

Lebron James (Courtesy of SpringHill Company)

LeBron James’ SpringHill Company has entered into a four-year, first-look film deal with Universal Pictures, Variety has learned exclusively.

A global consumer and entertainment brand built by the NBA sensation and co-founder Maverick Carter, SpringHill now joins numerous other high-profile term deals on the studio lot under the purview of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman Donna Langley.

“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,” said Langley. “SpringHill’s projects are compelling, entertaining, inspiring and aim to start important conversations, which we need now more than ever.”

Carter said the mission of the company is to “empower greatness in every individual. With Universal, we’re aligned in making sure socially conscious and purposeful elements are felt in all of our stories, whether it’s a drama, comedy, family or even a horror film.” He also praised Universal’s culture as one that “makes telling diverse stories a mandate and not an option.”

SpringHill joins an impressive roster of diverse and starry first-looks recruited by Langley, including arrangements with Jordan Peele, Kevin Hart, Will Packer, Janelle Monae, producer Justin Lin, Malcolm D. Lee, Marsai Martin, and Eva Longoria.

Variety can also exclusively report that SpringHill and Universal will team for “Catch the Wave.” The film is based on an original pitch from writer Ali Kinney, which will be shepherded by SpringHill’s chief content officer Jamal Henderson and film head Spencer Beighley.

Kinney’s “Catch the Wave” tells the story of a young African American woman whose spark with a Black surfer opens up her world to romance and the untold history of Manhattan Beach’s “Bruce’s Beach”,  a once-thriving Black coastal community in the 1920’s which was driven out by the KKK and eminent domain by the city.

This joins the previously announced adaptation of the book “Shooting Stars,” by James and Buzz Bissinger. The story recounts the all-star’s youth in sports, to be directed for the screen by Chris Robinson. Terence and Rachel Winter are producing from a script by Frank E. Flowers with revisions by Tony Rettenmaier and Juel Taylor (who is an alumnus of the Universal Writers Program, which identifies screenwriters with unique points of view). SpringHill and the studio will also tackle “New Kid,” an adaptation of the first graphic novel to win the Newbery Medal by author Jerry Craft.

James, Carter and The SpringHill Company were represented in the deal by WME and Ziffren Brittenham LLP.

“We’re making movies that are genre agnostic and story first, but in a way that is commercially viable, ” Henderson said of the deal. “As the market changes, we’re positioned well to work with the new voices that everyone is craving, but telling stories poised for wide release and tailored for the streaming marketplace."

SpringHill is comprised of three companies built by James and Carter: Uninterrupted, the athlete empowerment media and consumer product company; SpringHill Entertainment, the premium scripted and unscripted film and television production company; and The Robot Company, the brand and culture consultancy.

Their original content properties include the breakout broadcast special “Graduate Together,” the Warner Bros. feature  “Space Jam: A New Legacy,” NBC’s primetime game show “The Wall,” and Netflix’s “Self Made: Inspired by the Life of Madam C.J. Walker.”

Variety's Matt Donnelly contributed to this post.

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