Call of Duty Black Ops III has just arrived on consoles and PC and it's pretty much a given that it's going to make all the money in the world ever and break earning records and also provide many hours of entertainment for its ravenous fans. And just in case they missed a few people, there's now a Call of Duty movie on the way.
This comes off the back of publishers Activision Blizzard announcing the creation of Activision Blizzard Studios - which will create small and big screen adapations of their biggest and best properties. With a Warcraft flick already set for release in 2016, their attention has turned to Call of Duty.
The current plan is to have a film out in cinemas by 2019 which will just be the first part of a new 'cinematic universe.' Which basically just means creating a series of interconnected products which keep audiences in that world and increase their chances of buying even more stuff.
The idea makes sense on some level but its a bit of a strange move for a franchise like Call of Duty. Their yearly games titles already make shedloads of money - for example Black Op 2 made $500 million in its first 24 hours, way more than any movie ever released. And the series as a whole has grossed over $10 billion since launching in 2003, a figure that also outstrips every motion picture franchise in the world.
So why sink $100 million into a theatrical feature when you only stand to make a fraction of those kinds of figures back? Sure a good portion of your game-buying audience will want to check out the film, giving you a boost to numbers, but how high can it really go? Anyone who was going to be interested in a COD movie already knows about the game so you won't be catching many new eyeballs. And then there's the issue of rating - the COD games are really quite ridiculously violent but you just know Activision Blizzard will be trying to wrangle a PG-13 rating for their big screen outing - purely to make as much money as possible.
What we'd love to see stem from this idea would be a smaller-scale approach - give an up and coming filmmaker $30 million, don't use stars and let them create an action packed, violent film which ties in with the best set pieces in the games. Start small and build it from there, with different styles, and work hard to entertain the audience. Maybe tap Ilya Naishuller who just helmed the first person madness of Hardcore.
Of course this isn't going to happen. This is the franchise which uses Robert Downey jr in their TV advertisements afterall...
In the meantime, Activision Blizzard will be releasing a Skylanders TV show with voice work by Justin Long, Ashley Tisdale and Johnathan Banks in the near future. More as we get it.