Activision starts a studio for ‘Skylanders,’ ‘Call of Duty’ TV and film

6 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Activision Blizzard Launches Film And TV Studio.

The company on Friday said it is creating a film and television unit to exploit its vast library of intellectual property. Video game giant Activision/Blizzard is launching a studio to create movies and television shows based on its intellectual properties, hoping to jumpstart franchises and cinematic universes, including one based on its best-selling Call of Duty game.In an Investor Day presentation leading up to BlizzCon today, Activision Blizzard announced Activision Blizzard Studios, a new division of the company focused on creating original films and TV shows. Activision’s intellectual property — which ranges from modern-day blockbusters such as “Destiny” to 1980s classics such as “Kaboom!” — has been highly sought after by Hollywood studios for years but the company always resisted overtures. “What we needed to do was feel like we could deliver content that would be enhancing to the franchises and exceptional to the players and the only way we could do that was by ourselves,” Mr.

The first project from the studio will be an animated television series based on Skylanders, the video game series featuring magic and floating islands that was a pioneer in the toys-to-life category akin to Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions. Currently in production under the supervision of showrunner Eric Rogers (“Futurama”), “Skylanders Academy” will feature the voices of Justin Long (“Alvin and the Chipmunks,” “Ask Me Anything”) as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale (“Phineas and Ferb,” “High School Musical”) as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks (“Breaking Bad,” “Better Call Saul”) as Eruptor and Norm Macdonald (“Saturday Night Live”) as Glumshanks.

Kotick also hinted that Activision won’t be beholden to the big screen or the small screen in terms of platforms for its programming. “We have the flexibility to decide what’s the best way for the audience to consume that content,” he said. That could include offering content online in an “over-the-top” streaming-video service similar to World Wrestling Entertainment’s network. “We will look at it on a case-by-case basis,” Mr.

The company’s first production is a TV version of its popular children’s “toys-to-life” franchise “Skylanders,” which in May the company said had raked in more than $3 billion in global revenue since it launched in 2011. Activision is likely to partner with established networks and studios for distribution of its content, even though it has a massive audience through its various gaming channels. Kotick emphasized the company’s deep pockets — “we have a $28 billion balance sheet” — and track record in taking plenty of time and pouring resources into game development. The PC game “World of Warcraft” is already being made into a movie by Legendary Entertainment through a deal Blizzard made prior to Activision acquiring it in 2008. It intends to do the same with film and TV projects. “We’ve killed games, we’ve stopped projects after years of development,” Kotick said. “If we don’t think we’re putting out best creative foot forward, we don’t do it.” Kotick said the company has relationships some Hollywood creative talent who have been recruited to write stories for the “Call of Duty” franchise — a list that includes Mark Boal, David S.

Earlier this week, the company struck a deal to acquire King Digital Entertainment KING -0.11 % PLC for $5.9 billion, a move aimed at transforming Activision into a leader in the cutthroat and fast-growing mobile games market. Ubisoft Motion Pictures’ “Assassin’s Creed,” a co-production with several other studios based on the top game of the same name, is slated for December 2016 release by 20th Century Fox. At this stage, Activision is not looking to partner on distribution (Kosick said that will be tackled on a franchise-by-franchise basis) nor on co-financing deals. Last month, it set the launch of an e-sports gaming division headed by former ESPN exec Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming president Mike Sepso.

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