×

First Look: Jon Favreau Directs Live Action Promo for Videogame ‘Destiny’

Giancarlo Esposito stars in Activision and 'Halo'-creator Bungie's new ad

To promote their ambitious new videogameDestiny,” Activision and Bungie (which created “Halo”), have produced a live action commercial, directed by Jon Favreau, that prominently features Giancarlo Esposito.

SEE ALSO: Bungie Hopes to Repeat ‘Halo’ Success With ‘Destiny’

The 60-second spot, produced by ad shop 72andSunny, with visual effects handled by Digital Domain, revolves around the mythology of the game’s futuristic world in which players take the role of a Guardian of the last safe city on Earth.

The trailer is designed to introduce the world and characters of “Destiny” “as a grand fable for the ages,” said Eric Hirshberg, CEO of Activision Publishing.

Esposito, who stars in NBC’s “Revolution,” plays the role of a father in the spot, named “Law of the Jungle,” who reads Rudway Kipling’s “The Jungle Book” to his son.

The Kipling tale represents the massive sci-fi fantasy story Bungie is readying to tell through “Destiny,” designed to play out like chapters of a book.

“What better way to do that than through a book that’s treated as this cherished thing,” said Tim Wolfe, creative director and writer at 72andSunny. “It’s the most treasured object this family has.”

Favreau directed the pilot episode of “Revolution,” on which he met Esposito. Activision wanted Favreau to direct the spot because “what he was able to do with ‘Iron Man’ is a masterful mix of hardcore geek cred with mass pop cultural appeal,” Hirshberg said. “Those two are hard to bring together. He’s a master of both.”

What attracted Esposito was the game’s ability to get people to think about moral questions.

“I’m a beliver of mythology as a teaching tool, not just form of entertainment,” he said. “It should be entertaiment, but in our world, people want to be more connected and challenged. A game like this enables us to become more mindful, not mindless. That’s powerful stuff for me. It’s an analogy for the bigger world in the smaller world of the gaming world.”

In addition to streaming online, the “Law of the Jungle” ad will air during Game 3 of the NBA Western Conference Finals on May 25. Activision plans to release an additional trailer for “Destiny” during Sony’s press conference at E3, on June 10, that features gameplay. There is no release date yet for “Destiny,” but a fall launch is unlikely, according to sources close to Bungie.

With the ad, “we wanted to explain how this world works,” Wolfe said. “With videogames it’s easy to have them feel temporary; you play for a couple hours and get out. Bungie creates a world that goes beyond that, so we wanted to kick off the franchise with something that struck your emotions rather than your adrenal gland.”

Activision had considered producing a longer version of the ad and turn it into a short, but “production realities of the time and money of doing that,” got in the way, Wolfe said.

The “Destiny” ad isn’t the first live action spot produced to promote a game from a major game publisher.

In fact, live action ads, backed by a considerable production budget, are proving more common as games look to prop up their tentpole title launches with high-profile campaigns.

Over the last several years, Activision has also produced live action spots around its popular “Call of Duty” and “Skylanders” franchises, while Microsoft has done the same for its “Halo” games, and Sony and Bethesda embraced the concept for its “God of War: Ascension” and “The Elder Skrolls V: Skyrim” releases.

SEE ALSO: Vidgame ads turn to live action



“We’ve been a part of starting that trend with ‘Call of Duty,’” said Hirshberg, who told Variety the increased marketing strategy stems from “a shift from thinking of games as products to thinking of them as brands. A product is something you buy and a brand is something you buy into.”

With franchises like “Call of Duty” and potential new ones like “Destiny,” Activision is looking to “reach a mass audience and bring new people into gaming and into the franchise,” Hirshberg said.

To do that it’s looking to live action trailers to bring the emotional elements of a game to life.

“That’s what live action trailers are good at — bringing the gamer’s experience to life,” Hirshberg said. “You can’t do that when you just show the game itself.”

The live action take on new games was inevitable, Hirshberg said. “People like to compare videogames to movies and other forms of entertainment,” he said. “But games are one of the least disposable forms of entertainment there is,” citing the hours of time peope spend playing the game or the amount of money they spend on downloadable content and microtransactions.

At the same time, live action tends to prop up the overall exposure for a game and help make it a pop culture event, Hirshberg adds.

“There’s an impact you get from the production value and inclusion of some celebrities who are fans of your game that gives (a title) a larger than life quality,” Hirshberg said.

‘Destiny’ Official Stills:

Popular on Variety

More Biz

  • Led Zeppelin Stairway to Heaven

    Department of Justice Backs Led Zeppelin in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Copyright Case

    The U.S. Department of Justice has weighed in on the next big music copyright case on the horizon following the Katy Perry “Dark Horse” decision, and taken Led Zeppelin’s side in the long-running copyright dispute that pits the writers of the group’s anthem “Stairway to Heaven” against the publishers of the earlier song “Taurus” by [...]

  • Harvey Weinstein

    Harvey Weinstein Prosecutors Make Last-Minute Move to Bolster Case

    The Manhattan D.A.’s office is making a last-minute bid to strengthen its case against Harvey Weinstein, who is set to be tried next month on charges of rape and sexual assault. Prosecutors notified the court on Tuesday that they will seek a new indictment. The D.A.’s office wants jurors to hear from Annabella Sciorra, the [...]

  • Jeffrey Epstein

    Jeffrey Epstein's Autopsy Rules That He Died by Suicide

    Jeffrey Epstein’s death earlier this month has been ruled a suicide by hanging. The New York Times reported on Friday that the city’s medical examiner has officially made the ruling six days after Epstein was found dead in his jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan. According to the Times, which cites a [...]

  • America Ferrera Eva Longoria

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and More Sign Letter to Latinx Community: 'We Will Not Be Broken'

    America Ferrera, Eva Longoria and more have signed a letter published in several media outlets on Friday standing in solidarity with the Latinx community. In response to the heightened tension surrounding President Trump’s immigration agenda, the El Paso shooting that targeted Latinx people and the ICE raids in Mississippi, the letter addresses the language used [...]

  • Research Firm Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox

    Screen Engine/ASI Acquires TicktBox, an Entertainment Marketing and Ticketing Startup

    Screen Engine/ASI, a market research firm that specializes in focus-group testing of movies and TV pilots, has acquired ticktBox, which operates a digital marketing and ticketing platform used by movie distributors, exhibitors, and TV networks. Terms of the deal, which closed Aug. 9, weren’t disclosed. With ticktBox, SE/ASI will have one of the largest databases of [...]

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - AUGUST

    Eric Reid, Jemele Hill – and Colin Kaepernick? - Take Jay-Z to Task Over NFL Partnership

    When news of the presumably lucrative entertainment and social-justice deal between Jay-Z’s Roc Nation and the NFL leaked on Tuesday, initially there was a surprising lack of public reaction or outcry. But after a press conference where Jay and NFL commissioner Roger Goodell officially announced the deal at Roc Nation’s New York offices yesterday — [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content