Activision/Blizzard to Change the Game to Movie Adaptation World with Brand New Studio!

By November 6, 2015

Some pretty BIG news coming out of Blizzard Studios, the video game company behind the World of Warcraft video game franchise. They, of course, also have a small hand in the new Warcraft movie adaptation that just dropped the full trailer.

One of the biggest moves I’ve seen in a long time is the announcement that Blizzard and Activision (Call of Duty franchise) will be creating its own movie studio where they plan to adapt their most popular and iconic titles into blockbuster movie adaptations. Basically, Warcraft is just them warming up.

Best to read the official press release:

Activision Blizzard Launches Activision Blizzard Studios to Create Original Film and TV Content Based on Iconic, Globally-Recognized Franchises

Initial Productions to Include SkylandersTM TV Series and Call of DutyTM Film Series

Disney Veteran Nick van Dyk Named Studio Co-President 

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Nov. 6, 2015 – Activision Blizzard (Nasdaq: ATVI) today announced the launch of Activision Blizzard Studios, a new film and television studio devoted to creating original content based on the company’s extensive library of iconic and globally-recognized intellectual properties. Activision Blizzard’s owned content includes some of the most popular entertainment franchises in the world, including Call of Duty®, Skylanders®, Diablo®, Hearthstone® and StarCraft®. Former Disney executive Nick van Dyk has been tapped to co-head the division, along with a senior creative executive who will be announced soon.

Activision Blizzard Studios’ first production will be “Skylanders™ Academy,” an animated TV series based on the award-winning Skylanders® game. 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. Additional voice talent includes Harland Williams and Richard Horvitz. The award-winning, $3 billion Skylanders® franchise has sold through more than 250 million toys since pioneering the toys-to-life category in 2011(1).

Another near-term initiative for Activision Blizzard Studios will be the development of a robust cinematic universe based on the Call of Duty franchise. Call of Duty®: Advanced Warfare remains the number one-selling title on next-generation consoles(2) and today marks the launch of the highly-anticipated new Call of Duty®: Black Ops III. Activision Blizzard Studios envisions a series of Call of Duty feature films as well as the possibility of television adaptations.

“Activision Blizzard is home to some of the most successful entertainment franchises in history, across any medium. With the launch of Activision Blizzard Studios, our engaged fans can now watch the games they love come to life across film and television,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “Activision Blizzard Studios is yet another way we’re celebrating our players and fans, and we expect that our film and television productions will entertain and delight whole new audiences, as well. I’m excited that Nick and his team will be leading this important new growth opportunity for Activision Blizzard.”

Kotick added, “We intend to approach film and television development with the same unwavering commitment to excellence we are known for in game development.”

Nick van Dyk, formerly a long-time Walt Disney Company senior executive, will serve as Activision Blizzard Studios’ Co-President, alongside a top creative executive who will be announced soon. Van Dyk will have responsibility for distribution, physical production, strategy, finance and operations and will co-manage all aspects of the studio. Before joining Activision Blizzard last year, van Dyk spent nine years at Disney where, as Senior Vice President of Corporate Strategy, he helped drive Disney’s focus on franchise intellectual property and played a significant role in the acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. Prior to that, van Dyk was part of Artisan Entertainment’s senior management team.

“Activision Blizzard Studios has the unique advantage of starting with a library of world-class intellectual property that includes some of the largest franchises which have not yet been developed in film and television,” said van Dyk. “Our library spans more than 30 years of global entertainment culture and, in the last 12 months alone, fans of Activision Blizzard properties have played and watched our games online for more than 13 billion hours. This gives us a huge, passionate and deeply-engaged audience that is hungry for more great content built from the universes they already know and love-and which are extremely broad in their appeal.”

Van Dyk added, “Activision Blizzard Studios is not just an exciting new business for our company, it is a synergistic complement to our core business. Our movies and shows will benefit from the remarkable IP created in our games and will further increase the awareness of, engagement with and passion for our franchises.”

Activision Blizzard Studios is another important step in the company’s strategy of expanding the platforms through which it offers its compelling intellectual property to existing fans and new audiences around the world.

The founding of Activision Blizzard Studios follows the company’s announcement on Oct. 22 of a new esports division headed by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming co-founder and president Mike Sepso. The esports division will build on the company’s competitive gaming leadership by creating all-new ways to deliver the best-in-class fan experience across games, platforms and geographies, furthering the development of its world-leading esports ecosystem. Activision Blizzard’s other divisions are Activision Publishing and Blizzard Entertainment. On Nov. 2, the company announced its plans to acquire King Digital Entertainment, the creators of the Candy Crush®, Farm Heroes®, Pet Rescue® and Bubble Witch® franchises, which will make it a new global leader in mobile gaming.

Let’s break down that long press releases and get to the point at hand – video game, movie adaptations.

Now, the jury, obviously, is still out with Warcraft… Same goes for Assassin’s Creed. We won’t know how those movies will do and whether or not the “curse” of the video adaptation will follow these projects. However, here’s what I am thinking…

The curse has been broken.

This announcement reminds me of Marvel starting up their own movie studio (which was then bought by Disney), and even PIXAR (also bought by Disney). We are looking at two large conglomerates who have dominated the video game industry with their output of titles. The games work. Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Diablo? All their doing and done their way. They write, develop and produce these games and now, they will be doing the same thing with their movies. Heck, I mentioned Disney in all those examples with Marvel and Pixar? Look who they brought in for their game adaptations? Nick Van Dyk from Disney. Activision/Blizzard is following the model to the T.

And I do believe, because they will continue to be hands on with their movie adaptations, we will see stellar transfers from game to film. Just like we did with Marvel.

And aside from their first TV show with Skylanders Academy, which sounds pretty darn cool, we will also be treated to a Call of Duty shared universe!

I am on record stating I am not a big gamer however, I play the hell out of Call of Duty and love their Advanced Warfare titles. Lately they’ve been using some A list actors to tell these stories, like Kevin Spacey to name just one; and it’s been a helluva good time playing. Can you imagine those stories now as movies? Damn, the cutaway scenes alone are pretty much one step from the cinema! This all makes sense.

Now we wait and see what kind of talent and director(s) they get with their adaptations. But I am not really worried anymore about a video game/movie curse. It was only a matter of time before someone stepped to the plate to make serious video game adaptations, the way the gamers and makers of these games wanted to make them. Their way. Serious. And of course, fun.

This has, really, changed the gaming world in a big way. Comic book movies, Star Wars, Pixar, toys – these are all things people and naysayers believed would never work or stick around. Look how that turned out? And now, add in video games. I think we’re on the verge of it becoming its own genre that, finally, works.

Make sure you check back for more updates — right here on GeekNation.

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Mark Reilly
Born a geek a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away - Tustin, CA - Reilly is a seasoned writer and producer with over twenty years experience in the film industry. He is the co-host of 'Far, Far Away' here on GeekNation as well as 'Meet the Movie Press' on the Popcorn Talk Network; which airs live every Friday morning at 9am pst. Tweet him at @Reillyaround