Today is supposed to see the premiere of Legendary Pictures’ new Warcraft movie trailer, but the company behind the gaming phenomenon has pre-empted the reveal with an announcement of their own. Activision Blizzard has launched a new film and TV studio to bring their properties to screens big and small, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Dubbed Activison Blizzard Studios, one of the new division’s major priorities will be launching a cinematic universe based on the wildly popular Call of Duty first-person shooter franchise. Few specifics were revealed, but Activision did say that the first entry in the potential series could hit theaters as early as 2018.
The first thing fans will see from the studio will be an animated TV show coming from the world of Skylanders, the pioneering toys-to-life game. Futurama writer Eric Rogers will act as showrunner, while they’ve already signed on voice actors Justin Long (Spyro), Ashley Tisdale (Stealth Elf), Jonathan Banks (Eruptor), and Norm MacDonald (Glumshanks). Harland Williams (Half-Baked, Dumb and Dumber) and Richard Horvitz (Angry Beavers, Kaos in the Skylanders games) are also onboard.
“Our most important asset as a company is our audience,” Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick, who will serve as co-president of the studios, said, “and in order to ensure that our audiences is always appropriately entertained at the level of excellence that we’ve come to be known for, we have to ensure that anything that relates to any of the company’s franchises is produced or developed with the same commitment to excellence that we have. And the only way we could see ensuring that that would happen would be to do it ourselves.”
Kotick will run the new division alongside co-president Nick van Dyk, a former Disney executive who helped usher in that company’s acquisitions of Pixar, Marvel, and Lucasfilm. As of now, the company is not seeking any distripution or co-financing deals. The former will be handled on a franchise-by-franchise basis, while the latter isn’t really a concern. “We’re a $26 billion company,” Kosick said. “We intend to finance through equity.”
They certainly don’t have much to worry about, considering Call of Duty has netted over $10 billion, while Skylanders has become a $3 billion dollar franchise since launching just four years ago. Activision Blizzard also announced plans to acquire King Digital Entertainment, creators of the ubiquitous Candy Crush mobile game, just a few days ago.
“Unlike other forms of IP, we are part of a robust and cash-generative and financially healthy parent,” van Dyk said of Activision Blizzard Studios. “That said, this IP is in such high demand that we’ll have unbelievable partnership opportunities from traditional as well as new sources.”