You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Activision Blizzard Launches Production Arm For Video Game-Based Film, TV Projects

Video game giant Activision Blizzard is continuing its expansion push with the launch of a production arm to develop film and TV properties based on “Call of Duty” and other game titles.

Disney alum Nick van Dyk has signed on as co-president of Activision Blizzard Studios. A creative executive will be named in the coming weeks, according to Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick.

The unit’s first production is an animated series based on the “Skylander Academy” vidgame property. Activision execs developed the series adaptation in-house before tapping a third-party animation outfit in France to handle production. Justin Long, Ashley Tisdale, Jonathan Banks and Norm Macdonald are on board as voice talent.

Kotick said Activision Blizzard has been planning to launch into film and TV production for more than a year. The focus will be on live-action and animated renditions of existing Activision IP, which stretches back 30 years and more than 1,000 titles. The wildly popular “Call of Duty” franchise is being eyed s a movie series.

The studio operation will be house at Activision Blizzard’s Santa Monica, Calif. headquarters. Kotick said he envisioned the unit scaling up to about 40 staffers in the near future.

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. 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. Goyer, Stephen Gaghan and Paul Haggis. He also touted its pre-visualization tools for games that the company hopes to extend to film and TV.

“Activision Blizzard Studios is not just an exciting new business for our company, it is a synergistic complement to our core business,” said van Dyk, who spent the past nine years as senior VP of corporate strategy. “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’s move to form an entertainment studio is not unprecedented. In 2011, French game publisher Ubisoft formed a TV and film division. 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. Ubisoft’s “Rabbids Invasion” was picked up in 2013 by Nickelodeon.

The news of Activision Blizzard’s push into film and TV content comes four days after it unveiled a $5.9 billion deal to acquire “Candy Krush” maker King Digital Entertainment. 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.

Todd Spangler contributed to this report.

More TV

  • A.P. BIO -- "Melvin" Episode 208

    'AP Bio' Canceled After Two Seasons at NBC

    “AP Bio” has been canceled at NBC. Series creator Mike O’Brien shared the news with fans on Twitter, writing that “This has been my favorite project of my life.” In the single-camera comedy, Glenn Howerton portrayed a disgraced Harvard philosophy scholar who lost out on his dream job and was forced to return to Toledo, [...]

  • James Holzhauer $2 million

    'Jeopardy!' Champion James Holzhauer Hits $2 Million Winnings Milestone

    This current “Jeopardy!” player has just won over $2 million on the popular game show. Who is James Holzhauer? The 34 year old professional sports gambler from Las Vegas has hit a “Jeopardy!” milestone by becoming only the second person in the show’s history to win over $2 million in regular season play. Holzhauer won [...]

  • Kanye West Shares a Memory of

    Kanye West Shares a Touching Memory of His Mother in Letterman Interview

    In a preview of David Letterman’s interview with Kanye West, which begins streaming next Friday, May 31, the musician’s wife Kim Kardashian West, tweeted a clip of him sharing a touching memory of his mother, Donda, who died in 2007 after a surgical procedure. While his wife looks on smiling, West answers Letterman’s question about [...]

  • CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism

    CNN Lays Off Some Health Journalism Staffers

    CNN has laid off a handful of staffers from its health-journalism unit after deciding to place its health, climate and Southeastern newsgathering operations under a single aegis. ” As part of the normal course of business, our newsgathering team made a small restructure earlier this week that ultimately impacts 6-7 employees within CNN’s Health Unit,” [...]

  • Henry Ian Cusick

    'Lost' Star Henry Ian Cusick Signs With Buchwald (EXCLUSIVE)

    Henry Ian Cusick, best known for playing Desmond on the hit ABC series “Lost,” is signing with talent agency Buchwald for representation. Cusick also starred in the CW sci-fi/drama “The 100” and was most recently seen in the Fox series “The Passage.” His other notable television credits include “Scandal,” “24,” “Fringe,” “The Mentalist,” “Body of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content