Activision taps ‘Hateful Eight’ producer for studio venture

By Derrik J. Lang

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Activision Blizzard Inc. is enlisting the producer of “The Hateful Eight” to help lead its TV and film studio as the “Call of Duty” publisher prepares to take on Hollywood.

The Santa Monica, California-based video game company announced Wednesday that veteran producer Stacey Sher has been hired to serve as co-president of Activision Blizzard Studios with Nick van Dyk, the former Disney executive who was brought on last year as co-president of the new venture.

“The idea of continuing the tradition of inspired creativity that’s been the culture of this company for 35 years with some of the greatest intellectual property that hasn’t been locked up by other people was incredibly exciting,” said Sher.

Sher is a frequent collaborator with filmmakers Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh. Her credits include “Pulp Fiction,” ‘’Django Unchained,” ‘’Erin Brockovich,” ‘’Contagion” and “Reno 911!”

Activision unveiled plans in November to create and release its own TV and film series based on its games. In recent years, Ubisoft and Microsoft similarly launched divisions that were tasked with adapting game franchises to varying degrees of success.

“Activision Blizzard does not release a game unless it’s great, so it’s not a big leap to take that culture and migrate it to this endeavor,” said Sher. “I think that’s a sensibility that we all share.”

Activision’s first project is slated to be a TV show inspired by the kid-friendly “Skylanders” toy-game franchise, followed by films based on the “Call of Duty” military shooter series.

Could a filmmaker like Tarantino or Soderbergh direct a “Call of Duty” movie? Sher and van Dyk aren’t ruling out the possibility.

“Between the quality of our intellectual property and Stacey’s relationships, I think we’re going to have amazing talent to work with,” said van Dyk.

Sher and van Dyk said they plan to keep the studio small and maintain creative control over projects, similar to Pixar and Lucasfilm. While most video game adaptations haven’t been financially or critically well received, they believe they can overcome the genre’s flop-filled past.

“We understand our intellectual property, fans and the universes better than anyone else,” said van Dyk. “The creative sensibility that’s involved in making great games is orthogonal to the creative sensibility needed to make great films and TV. By having the right skill set and controlling intellectual properties, rather than turning them over to third parties, we can ensure creative excellence.”

Van Dyk and Sher said they’re currently working on the vision for an interconnected “Call of Duty” film series. However, they first need to find office space. Activision Blizzard Studios won’t be housed in the company’s headquarters in Santa Monica, California.


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