Video games and their movie/TV counterparts are rarely on par with each other. If a movie or TV show is based on a video game, or vice versa, it’s often created as purely a promotional tool for the real product and offers little value as art or entertainment. The wildly popular Skylanders toys-to-life video game series looks to buck the trend with its upcoming Skylanders Academy TV series for Netflix.
With the show already planned for two seasons, Activision Blizzard Studios is banking on the success of the Skylanders game franchise to translate well to TV screens. The appeal of the game for its target audience lies in its combination of toys and near-field communication with consoles and mobile devices; it’s unclear how the TV series fits into this dynamic. The first trailer is now available online and promises solid action for young audiences, backed by some legitimate star power in the cast.
Netflix released the trailer on YouTube Wednesday, just four days before the release of the sixth installment in the Skylanders video game series, Skylanders: Imaginators. Besides boasting impressive computer-generated animation from France’s TeamTO Studios (Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures), the show features the voice talents of Justin Long (Dodgeball) as Spyro, Ashley Tisdale (Phineas and Ferb) as Stealth Elf, Jonathan Banks (Breaking Bad) as Eruptor, and Norm MacDonald (Saturday Night Live) as Glumshanks. Sander Schwartz, who produced the animated series The Batman on Kids WB, serves as executive producer.
A press release from Activision Blizzard Studios described the show as follows:
Based on Activision Blizzard’s pioneering Skylanders® video game franchise, Skylanders Academy follows the heroic adventures of Spyro, Eruptor, Stealth Elf, Jet-Vac and Pop Fizz as they travel the vast Skylands universe, protecting it from evil-doers. Skylanders Academy promises to keep viewers on the edge of their seats with epic action for kids of all ages.
It’s unclear what direct ties, if any, exist between Skylanders Academy and the accompanying Imaginators game, which will allow players to create and customize their own Skylanders characters. But with two seasons already planned through 2017, Activision Blizzard Studios is betting big on what’s been a cash cow in the video game world.
Skylanders Academy is the first television show produced by Activision Blizzard, so it remains to be seen if the studio’s lack of experience producing stand-alone entertainment without a gaming aspect will be a detriment to the series. But with the producers and voice actors involved in the project, the built-in source material and huge audience, and Netflix’s backing, it’s clear that the show has big-time potential, even if it is just a promotional tool for the video games.
Skylanders Academy season 1 premieres October 28, 2016 on Netflix.
Source: Netflix, Activision Blizzard Studios