In hindsight, it’s rather appropriate that Legendary slapped a name change on Duncan Jones’ fantasy to rebrand it as Warcraft: The Beginning, as the 2016 blockbuster is just the first in a long line of Activision IP primed to get the Hollywood makeover. Making the announcement official during the ongoing BlizzCon event, the parent company formally unveiled Activision Blizzard Studios, a production house that will not only tee up the Skylanders Academy animated series, but also a “robust cinematic universe” based on the seemingly evergreen Call of Duty franchise.
Before diving into the company’s military shooter, though, it’s the former project that will take precedent at the newfound studio. Having already filled the recording booth with Justin Long as Spyro the Dragon, Ashley Tisdale as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks as Eruptor and Norm MacDonald as Glumshanks, Activision Blizzard is certainly making progress on the animation, itself billed as a “highly-comic, action-packed CGI animated TV show.”
Lucrative though they be, Call of Duty and Skylanders are by no means the only intellectual properties lining the vaults of Blizzard HQ. Indeed, with mega-popular video games series such as Diablo, Hearthstone, and StarCraft at their disposal, Activision Blizzard Studios is spoilt for choice when it comes to moulding film/TV universe from its roster of titles.
Rather than simply adapt each piece, the parent company is evidently keen to massage each of the above into genuine franchises, with Co-President Nick van Dyk even going so far as to say that “we’re not in the film and television business, We’re in the franchise, intellectual property business.” He continued:
“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 in a statement. “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.”
Diablo, Hearthstone, and StarCraft may not get the “robust cinematic universe” that’s being built around Call of Duty, but if there’s one property in the Activision archives that could sustain such a business model, it’s the company’s shooter juggernaut. Whether or not it will be successful is another question entirely.