We’re officially in a "cinematic universe" arms race. Everybody’s got to get their own before the competition gets theirs. It started with Marvel, who showed the world that the concept can be successful. It surprised absolutely nobody when DC announced they were going to follow suit. Now we have a new contender just getting underway that you may not have seen coming. Video game publisher Activision Blizzard announced the formation of their own production studio, and with it comes plans for a Call of Duty cinematic universe.
No, we’re not making this up. Calling it a "near term" plan, the game publisher/film studio expects to produce multiple Call of Duty films with some potential for television projects as well. The first release is planned for 2018 or 2019, though it’s unclear if work on the first film is currently underway or if things are just getting rolling now.
The Call of Duty game franchise has been a juggernaut for years, and the newest title, Black Ops III, was released today. The Black Ops series, like the Modern Warfare games before them, have told coherent stories over the course of several installments, though it’s difficult to argue that the story is the primary reason that anybody plays them. Competitive gameplay is the hallmark of the franchise, which is the reason that the company also announced their own eSports league recently. What will make a Call of Duty movie unique when compared to any other military action movie is something we'll have to wait to find out.
It’s not clear if the films will be adapted from the existing game titles or entirely new stories. While the most recent games have focused on modern, or futuristic, settings, the games initially revolved around World War II. There’s certainly some potential for creating a series of movies that encompasses all of that into one coherent world. One advantage that Activision Blizzard might have in creating their shared universe would be to make the games and the films part of the same world, though that does not appear to be the case.
This shouldn’t be too surprising as the franchise has been trying to make their games more and more cinematic in recent years. They went so far as to include a motion captured Kevin Spacey in the last title, Advanced Warfare. Actually, if they brought him back to act in some of the movies, you might get me interested.
Is the Call of Duty cinematic universe the thing you’ve been waiting for? What are the odds that they’ll rename Michael Bay’s new film Call of Duty: Benghazi before it releases?