Activation Blizzard owns some of the biggest franchises in the world, including Call of Duty, World of Warcraft and Skylanders. On top of direct game sales, the company has also earned over $1.5 billion so far this year from subscriptions, licensing and similar revenue sources.
At its 2015 Blizzcon event, Activision Blizzard announced it will expand to add yet another source of revenue: a long-rumored feature film and television production studio called Activision Blizzard Studios. The new studio will work to bring the company's IP to viewers around the world, and it looks to start with two of the biggest franchises.
According to Activision Blizzard's press release, two projects that are likely to emerge from the new studio are a movie franchise based around the Call of Duty series and a television show based off of Skylanders. While Skylanders seems like a natural fit as an animated TV show, the Call of Duty announcement took some by surprise. Even more surprising is the fact that the release referred to the establishment of a "robust cinematic universe," suggesting the films in the series may not be directly related, but would share a common setting.
The studio will have Disney veteran Nick van Dyk as co-president alongside an as-yet-to-be-named Activision Blizzard executive. As the studio was just announced, it isn't involved with the production of Duncan Jones' Warcraft film at Legendary; it remains to be seen if it will become a co-producer on any Warcraft sequels. Plans have been in the works for at least a little while, however, as the Skylanders series is already in production and has a cast attached.
The Call of Duty film series sounds interesting, especially if the studio can find a way to make the shared universe of the films a real and present force in the movies. This isn't like Avengers, where the individual films are obviously connected and leading up to a big crossover; ideally, the films will largely have their own identities (barring any direct sequels that bring back the same characters) but will share a world that is affected by the events of each film. Subtle references and the carryover of major events in the background of different films could really add depth to the world.
Of course, it's also possible the studio will go overboard with the "cinematic universe" idea and each film will make a point of mentioning or referencing the events of other films. This could totally break the immersion, making the Call of Duty films as forgettable and groan-worthy as some other video game adaptations. Only time will tell how well Activision Blizzard Studios will be able to pull this off, and whether more franchises will follow if Call of Duty turns out to be a success.
Source: Activision Blizzard