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Activision Blizzard launches movie and TV studio

A man dressed as a video game character walks past people waiting in line to attend the BlizzCon on Friday in Anaheim, Calif. World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzard is hosting its ninth annual fan-centric convention, which ends today. 

Associated Press

A man dressed as a video game character walks past people waiting in line to attend the BlizzCon on Friday in Anaheim, Calif. World of Warcraft maker Activision Blizzard is hosting its ninth annual fan-centric convention, which ends today. 

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LOS ANGELES

Hollywood is gaining a new player, or maybe millions of them.

Video game giant Activision Blizzard on Friday announced the creation of its own movie and television studio to bring hit titles such as Call of Duty and Skylanders to screens big and small.

The company, based in Santa Monica, Calif., and with revenue of $4.9 billion over the past year, is the world's fifth-largest video game maker by sales. The TV and movie studio announcement comes amid an ambitious expansion drive that also includes mobile games and spectator-based video game contests known as eSports.

With the studio, Activision Blizzard is looking to deploy its deep trove of characters and plots into new media — a big and expensive bet that enough of its 150 million players will passively watch scripted shows featuring its video game characters, while drawing new audiences.

"The franchises that Activision Blizzard has cultivated have drawn the largest, most compelling fan bases in the world," said Nick van Dyk, a former Disney executive tapped to co-head the new Activision Blizzard Studios. "The thirst for engaging with their characters and universe has been great, but has only been minimally addressed."

The studio push is just one of several initiatives being highlighted at the company's two-day Blizzcon fan festival, which ends today at the Anaheim Convention Center.

Activision Blizzard is counting on its understanding of its fan base, expanding distribution options and leveraging partnerships to make the business work.

"Film and TV — they are not simply stand-alone, profitable businesses, but they also amplify and extend the tremendous success of our core business," Van Dyk told analysts and media Friday.

For its first production, Activision Blizzard will release an animated TV series called Skylanders Academy, based on Skylanders, a popular game franchise with a toy tie-in that has generated $3 billion, including the sale of 250 million toys.

The animated series will feature the voices of Justin Long, Ashley Tisdale, Jonathan Banks and Norm MacDonald.

Next up, the company said: movies based on Call of Duty, a long-established military first-person shooter series that has been played by 100 million people. The first film could arrive as early as 2018.

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Activision Blizzard launches movie and TV studio 11/06/15 [Last modified: Friday, November 6, 2015 9:07pm]
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