Activison Blizzard Launches Production Arm to Develop Films and TV Shows Based on Video Games

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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.

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SOURCE: Variety, Cynthia Littleton