Activision Blizzard continues to put the puzzle pieces in place for its studio to turn video game properties like Call of Duty and Skylanders into movies and TV shows. The mega-publisher announced Wednesday that Stacey Sher, the award-winning producer behind films such as Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and Erin Brokovich, is now co-president to the recently-formed Activision Blizzard Studios.
Activision Blizzard Studios was formed in November, 2015, with the mandate to deliver a cinematic universe based on Call of Duty, along with a new animated television series, titled Skylanders Academy, as covered by the Inquisitr. Former Disney executive Nick van Dyke was named co-president of the studio at the time, and finally has the partner befitting of his title.
Sher’s nearly 30-year career in television and films (via IMDB) ranges from comedy series like Reno 911! to Quentin Tarantino’s The Hateful Eight. Along the way, she’s picked up an AFI Award for Django Unchained and Oscar nominations for Django and Erin Brockovich.
“Stacey is a rare talent behind two decades of award-winning television series and films. Her ability to collaborate with the most inspired, talented people in entertainment and her unyielding commitment to creativity make her perfectly suited to Activision Blizzard Studios,” said Bobby Kotick, Chief Executive Officer of Activision Blizzard. “As custodians of some of the world’s most successful entertainment franchises, we are thoughtfully and creatively expanding our franchises through television and films in a way that will honor the commitment our audiences make to our games.”
“As its large and loyal fanbase can attest, Activision Blizzard has created franchises that mean so much to audiences over the course of 35 years. I’m excited about our mandate to create filmed entertainment based on Activision Blizzard games that is as great as the games themselves,” said Stacey Sher, co-president of Activision Blizzard Studios. “I look forward to joining Nick, Bobby, and the insanely talented and forward-thinking team at Activision Blizzard to develop an even greater voice for these franchises by bringing them into the world of television and film.”
Skylanders Academy is expected later in 2016. Former Futurama writer Eric Rogers is the showrunner, which features an impressive voice cast. It stars Justin Long (Alvin and the Chipmunks, Ask Me Anything) as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale (Phineas and Ferb, High School Musical) as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul) as Eruptor, and Norm Macdonald (Saturday Night Live) as Glumshanks. Harland Williams (Jake and the Never Land Pirates) and the voice of Kaos himself, Richard Horvitz, are also be part of the cast.
Details on the first Call of Duty film have not been announced, but it will be interesting to see which of the existing Call of Duty storylines will be utilized for the cinematic universe or if an all new one will be created. The Modern Warfare line exploded the popularity of Call of Duty, but it has been four years since the last release from that line. The Black Ops line from Treyarch is both the most current and most popular, with Black Ops III launching this past November. There is also the Advanced Warfare branch that was introduced in 2014 by Sledgehammer Games.
Meanwhile, the Duncan Jones-directed Warcraft is due to hit theaters on June 10. This is a joint production between Blizzard Entertainment and Legendary Pictures that went through years of development hell and director changes before finally entering production in 2013.
The experience with Warcraft may be why Activision Blizzard is taking the approach of creating their own studio. This gives them the opportunity to finely control their game properties in other mediums much as Marvel has done with its film efforts since Iron Man.
[Image via Activision Blizzard]