Activision has hired a former Disney senior executive to oversee a new film and television production branch, Activision Blizzard Studios.
Nick Van Dyck will be co-president of the studio.
“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,” he said in an investor call today. “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.”
The first thing the studio is going to do, of course, is bring Skylanders to television. A comical CG-animated series called “Skylanders Academy” is on the way, with the voice talents of Justin Long, Ashley Tisdale, and Norm MacDonald.
I’m hoping against hope that Patrick Warburton will reprise his role as Flynn, and that Richard Horvitz will continue to play Kaos, but there is no word on that yet.
Activision Blizzard Studios is also planning to produce a film series based on the Call of Duty games. Other Activision Blizzard franchises include Destiny, Hearthstone, World of Warcraft, and Starcraft. There’s already a World of Warcraft movie in the works, but it is being produced by Legendary Pictures. Activision Blizzard presumably wants to avoid getting into situations like the one Marvel has found itself in, where the X-Men are owned by Fox while Marvel Studios retains ownership of most of the other superheroes.
Activision Blizzard doesn’t have a massive universe like Marvel does, but they are taking a leaf out of Marvel’s book by hiring former Disney production talent. Recently, they also hired for ESPN and NFL Network CEO Steve Bornstein to oversee a new esports division. The co-founder of Major League Gaming, Mike Sepso, also joined that effort.
Activision is also broadening the Skylanders universe with a mobile-only game called Skylanders Battlecast. This is a mobile card trading game, much like Hearthstone is, and cards for it are already available when you purchase Skylanders figurines. The game will come out in 2016.