After consulting the tea leaves and peering into Hollywood’s crystal ball, some higher-ups in the film industry – including Marvel producer Avi Arad – have predicted that the next big mainstream trend to follow comic book movies will be video game adaptations. We’re not completely convinced just yet, but video game developer and publisher Ubisoft is leading the charge with a new movie production company, Ubisoft Motion Pictures, and several film projects based on successful Ubisoft franchises already in development.
The big test for the potential future success of video game movies will be UMP’s Assassin’s Creed, based on the franchise of the same name in which a modern day bartender relives the memories of his improbably good-looking ancestors through the use of a machine that unlocks genetic memory. UMP is also developing a Splinter Cell movie, with Tom Hardy set to play the lead, and other projects such as Watch Dogs and Far Cry. Now it seems that another big video game publisher may be seeking to catch up.
Activision Blizzard, the video game publisher responsible for the Call of Duty series and several recent movie tie-in games like Transformers: Rise of the Dark Spark and The Amazing Spider-Man 2, may also be seeking to found its own movie and TV production studio, according to the latest rumors. The Information reports that Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick has recently been seeking the necessary executive talent for an entertainment studio that could produce movies and TV shows based on the company’s video game franchises.
Blizzard Entertainment, a subsidiary of Activision Blizzard, already has a movie tie-in to one of its biggest video game success on the way: Duncan Jones’ Warcraft, a CG-heavy fantasy film that will tell the story of the war between orcs and humans. The World of Warcraft movie rights now lie with Legendary Pictures, but there have been rumors for years of a Diablo movie in development at Blizzard, which could be a potential early project if Activision Blizzard does form its own studio.
The two most popular IPs under Activision’s umbrella are Call of Duty and Skylanders – the first geared towards mature audiences and the second targeted towards children with a tie-in toy line. A movie based on the Call of Duty games has been lightly rumored in the past and the games seem to be getting more cinematic with every new iteration (the upcoming Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare will star Kevin Spacey as the owner of a private military corporation), so it’s easy to imagine Activision Blizzard targeting this as an early project.
It’s important to remember, however, that the rumors of Activision Blizzard following in Ubisoft’s footsteps are still unconfirmed, and if they are true then the publisher only seems to be in the very earliest stages of forming its own own production company. That said, it’s definitely noteworthy that another major video game publisher may be taking the necessary steps to maintain as much creative control as possible over its properties. Perhaps this is the key to finally making successful video game movies.