Peter Berg Goes to War with Taylor Kitsch in Live Action ‘Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’ Ad

Taylor Kitsch in Activision's live action

“Lone Survivor” director Peter Berg is returning to the war zone with Activision’s latest live action spot for its “Call of Duty” franchise that stars Taylor Kitsch.

The gamemaker has previously enlisted James Mangold and Guy Ritchie to direct commercials starring Robert Downey Jr., Jonah Hill, Megan Fox, Sam Worthington and Omar Sy in over-the-top action sequences and settings that depict the worlds of the games.

This time around, Berg is reuniting with his “Friday Night Lights” and “Battleship” star with a spot that launches today, shortly before “Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare’s” launch on Nov. 3.

The “Discover Your Power” ad, which features a cameo by model Emily Ratajkowski, brings the futuristic setting of “Advanced Warfare” to life, with Kitsch as a quick-talking jetpack wearing soldier guiding the viewer who has a first-person view of the manic and explosive military action taking place all around them. Activision, Berg and ad shop 72andSunny were careful to make sure everything seen on screen depicts what actually happens in the game, while promoting the intensity of the action and overall swagger of its characters.

“We wanted to replicate what you’ll see when you play it,” Berg told Variety. “It was important to Activision that the game was accurate and not promising something that it isn’t. We didn’t want to overpromise what the game could deliver. Everything we designed, we designed with the game guys there,” down to the way doors are broken down, the weapons systems and the hoverbike that Kitsch rides (see above).

Activision has regularly turned to live action spots — Joseph Kosinski (“Oblivion”) recently helmed one for the publisher’s “Destiny” game — to provide a companion to its usual gameplay trailers, “which provides the substance and detail our fans look for to determine what it will feel like to play the game,” said Tim Ellis, chief marketing officer of Activision Publishing. “The live action trailer delivers pure adrenaline, emotion and the relatable bad-ass fun of ‘Call of Duty,'” with Berg’s ad to be shown in 90-second, 60-second and 30-second versions with a full trailer playing on TV and YouTube.

While Kevin Spacey is the franchise’s newest villain, he is not shown in the live action trailer, but is central to a separate campaign.

Kitsch was cast because he “is one of those rare actors who delivers raw power, with an approachable sensibility that rings true to this game and the ‘Call of Duty’ franchise,” Ellis said.

The concept was to make the spot look like a single take, one long continuous shot that plays with the current trend of GoPro videos and packs in a considerable amount of CG and actual stunt work. The spot was filmed in five days.

“The ‘Call of Duty’ commercials really are the gold standard of television commercials,” Berg said. “These guys (at Activision and 72andSunny) want to go bigger than anyone else. They lay out a real challenge to anyone who works with them. When you say yes to a ‘Call of Duty’ spot it’s not without a level of responsibility. It’s a lot of work.”

Pony Show Entertainment, who reps and produces Berg’s commercial projects, including the live action “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3” ad, and spots for the likes of Milk, Chobani Hulu and the NFL, worked on the new “Advanced Warfare” campaign.

Berg said the “Advanced Warfare” is aimed at the fans of the long-running “Call of Duty” series that’s one of Activision’s billion-dollar franchises.

“I think it’s for the fans, but going and getting new fans is never a bad idea,” Berg said.

Adds Ellis: “The launch spot reminds the ‘Call of Duty’ faithful why we’re their brand and welcomes new players into the family,” Ellis said. “It’s about getting people excited and talking about the game. We want people to say to their friends, ‘I have to have this game.’ Pete Berg balances a bigger than life story with a sense of realism and authenticity that is central to the first-person narrative of our new spot. It is all about discovering your powers using the exo, which is a core gameplay mechanic in the game.”

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