Today ahead of Blizzcon 2015's kickoff, Activision Blizzard has announced Activision Blizzard Studios, a new production studio to handle TV and film versions of Activision properties. Former Disney senior vice president of Corporate Strategy Nick van Dyk is the executive vice president of the new studio. The company will be announcing a creative lead studio soon.
"Activision Blizzard is home to some of the most successful entertainment franchises in history, across any medium. With the launch of Activision Blizzard Studios, our engaged fans can now watch the games they love come to life across film and television," said Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick. "I'm excited that Nick and his team will be leading this important new growth opportunity for Activision Blizzard."
Activision Blizzard Studios' first confirmed production will be Skylanders Academy, an animated television series based on the Skylanders toys-to-life games. Futurama writer Eric Rogers will the showrunner and the show will feature the voices of Justin Long as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks as Eruptor, and Norm Macdonald as Glumshanks. Blizzard needs to help Skylanders fight back against Disney Infinity and Lego Dimensions and a successful cartoon would be a big boost.
Activision Blizzard Studios also wants to create a "robust cinematic universe" based on Call of Duty, including feature films and potentially television adaptations. If they're not adapting Advanced Warfare or Black Ops III, I'm kind of confused as to what would separate Call of Duty from any other military-themed show, but you do you Activision.
Activision Blizzard isn't the first gaming company to decide to get into the film business directly. Ubisoft Motion Pictures was founded in 2011 to handle Ubisoft film adaptations. Like Activision Blizzard Studios, the Rabbids Invasion cartoon was Ubisoft's first confirmed production. The Assassin's Creed film starring Michael Fassbender is coming in 2016 and the next film will probably be Splinter Cell starring Tom Hardy. Ubisoft Motion Pictures is also working on film adaptations of Watch Dogs, Ghost Recon, and Far Cry.
Activision Blizzard has been making moves with its deep pockets in the past few days. The company acquired Candy Crush developer King Digital Entertainment to beef up its mobile gaming chops. It also announced an eSports division helmed by former ESPN CEO Steve Bornstein and Major League Gaming co-founder and president Mike Sepso.