Kobe Bryant’s original content company Granity Studios has revealed a new slate of projects designed to play out as books, animated TV series, feature films and live theater for families.
Emphasizing sports and fantasy themes, as well as diversity in gender, ethnicity and background, the lineup will start hitting the market next March with the release of The Wizenard Series: Training Camp, the first of five middle-grade and YA novels pegged for publication throughout 2019 and 2020.
The book is about a mysterious coach who must choose five individuals from a diverse cast of young male characters to build a team. Legacy and the Queen, meanwhile, centers around a young, black female tennis prodigy who must save her family from ruin by beating the best player in the world. The title will hit shelves worldwide in July 2019, followed by the October release of Viva, featuring a Latinx princess struggling to find her place in a kingdom under siege. (Editorial note: Latinx is a gender-neutral, non-binary term for a person of Latin American descent.) Additional novels are expected for 2020.
Each book is based on an original concept by Bryant and written in conjunction with a notable fiction author. All of them will be published in-house by Granity in partnership with Ingram-owned Two Rivers Distribution. Two books—Legacy and the Queen and Viva—have been earmarked for animation development, and The Wizenard Series is slated to become a live theater experience. One of Granity’s existing IPs, a top-rated kids and family podcast called The Punies, will also be worked up as an animated TV series.
Other projects from Granity include the Oscar- and Annie-winning animated short film Dear Basketball (pictured), acclaimed Showtime doc Kobe Bryant’s Muse, and ESPN+ TV series Detail. The retired NBA superstar is also making moves in the edtech space, having invested part of his Bryant Stibel venture capital firm’s US$100-million fund in Chinese online educational platform VIPKID.
Granity’s new project announcements come as controversy continues to swirl around Bryant due to a 2003 sexual assault allegation. (Charges were dropped after the woman refused to testify, and a civil suit was subsequently settled out of court.) The allegation resurfaced last year in connection with #MeToo scrutiny around the Academy Awards, triggered by Bryant’s 2017 Oscar win. And last month he was removed from the jury of LA’s Animation is Film Festival in response to a Change.org petition.
[This story was updated for context on November 7, 2018.]