Video game publisher Activision Blizzard is looking to take a bite out of the cinematic universe trend established by Marvel Studios and adopted by such companies as DC Films, Legendary Pictures and Universal Studios. According to The Guardian, the first franchise to get the interconnected narrative treatment may be the massively popular wartime first-person shooter series “Call of Duty.”
The effort to bring “Call of Duty” to the big screen has been underway for some time now and is being helmed by Stacey Sher and Nick van Dyk, co-presidents of Activision Blizzard Studios, a division of the game publisher created specifically to adapt its games into profitable movies and television shows. Speaking to The Guardian, the duo claims numerous scripts are ready to go and a general road map for the nascent cinematic universe has been completed.
“We have plotted out many years,” Sher said. “We put together this group of writers to talk about where we were going. There’ll be a film that feels more like ‘Black Ops,’ the story behind the story. The ‘Modern Warfare’ series looks at what it’s like to fight a war with the eyes of the world on you. And then maybe something that is more of a hybrid, where you are looking at private, covert operations, while a public operation is going on.”
The planned films will draw on the themes of the various games in the “Call of Duty” franchise, but will not remain completely beholden to the source material. The first film in the series could hit theaters as early as 2018 and may be followed by numerous television series similar in structure and inter-connectivity to Marvel’s Netflix offerings.
Both Sher and Van Dyk have years of experience in the film industry. Sher has numerous production credits on titles like “Pulp Fiction,” “Gattaca” and “Garden State.” Van Dyk once served as a senior executive at Disney and was integral in the acquisition of the “Star Wars” and “Marvel” brands, which have gone on to dominate at the box office under the ever-watchful eye of Disney.
Activision Blizzard publishes more video games franchises than just “Call of Duty,” though, and Van Dyk pointed out one other property that could receive a movie adaptation down the line: “Overwatch.” Much like the planned “Call of Duty” cinematic universe, an “Overwatch” movie wouldn’t just be a film version of the game’s already expansive lore.
“Not to keep quoting my former employer, but the most recent Star Wars movie [Rogue One], was developed around the concept of somebody had to get the plans of the Death Star to Princess Leia,” said Van Dyk. “You have that overall construct but there were new characters, there were new plot lines, there was a new history.”
Activision Blizzard debuted a "Skylanders" series on Netflix last year, which Sher says has raked in about 10 million viewers. The video game publisher hopes to see a similar success with "Call of Duty" and other franchises.