Late basketball legend Kobe Bryant had made his name as a filmmaker with the Oscar-winning Dear Basketball (2017), an animated short about his career as an athlete which he wrote, produced, and starred in. Bryant was not only developing more animation projects through his production company, Granity Studios, but also had plans to launch an animation studio of his own.
According to Bruce W. Smith, the creator of animated short Hair Love, Bryant even met with Sergio Pablos, the creator of the Despicable Me, franchise, for dinner and a discussion about future animation projects.
In an interview, Smith mentioned that Bryant was heavily invested in starting an animation studio. “For the past six months or so, Kobe and I had been in deep talks about making that happen… Kobe was beginning his second act, and animation was going to play a huge part in that… He fashioned himself in thinking like a Walt Disney… He had this book series that he created… The best way to describe it is Harry Potter meets tennis, almost. It was an amazing concept… He had that podcast called The Punies, for kids, that he wanted to make into an animated series,” said he.
Smith has had a prominent and long career with Walt Disney Animation Studios. His credits include supervising animator on Tarzan and The Princess and the Frog. He’s also the creator of the popular series The Proud Family (2001–05), which is being rebooted.