Whether or not you love the multi-billion dollar “Call of Duty” franchise, you almost certainly don’t care about its plot. “Call of Duty” is a game about shooting the bad guys and progressing to the next blockbuster moment, not characters.
But even with the lack of memorable plotlines, it’s a surprise that the series has yet to receive the film treatment.
Sony, apparently, is very interested in turning the franchise into a film, according to emails retrieved from the Wikileaks database of leaked Sony communications. In an email exchange from February 2014 between former Sony Pictures Entertainment chairwoman Amy Pascal, current chairman Tom Rothman, and CEO Michael Lynton, Rothman wrote:
I had lunch with Barry Meyer today. He is on [the] board of Activision. Blabbing on, as is Barry’s want, he said Bobby [Kotick, CEO of Activision], who is very unhappy with the “World of Warcraft” [movie] deal with Legendary, is now thinking about developing his properties in house because of the stakes involved and the need to control. But he is at least thinking about exploitation now at last. I think we should go to him and propose an overall deal, but one where he could control whether they got made or not.
Activision is a game publishing powerhouse: The company makes and publishes the “Call of Duty” series, as well as the “Destiny,” “World of Warcraft,” and “Skylanders” franchises. It’s these major franchises that Rothman wanted to make into film properties, which he specifically spelled out. Rothman listed “Call of Duty” as “hard, but the biggest title ever”; he pitched “Skylanders” as a “giant family lego-type film.”
About one month later, on March 14, 2014, Rothman wrote to Pascal and Lynton once more, ahead of a meeting with Activision CEO Bobby Kotick. In this email exchange, Rothman prepared his partners for persuading Kotick. “He has been reluctant to pursue movies,” Rothman wrote in reference to Kotick. “But I gather, as sales slow, is now more open.”
In early 2014, Activision was still reeling from the lukewarm reception critics had to its holiday 2013 “Call of Duty” game (“Ghosts”). It’s this particular environment that Rothman was referencing.
Rothman explained that Kotick — and Activision, by extension — wanted to create film versions of its properties in-house. In Rothman’s previous email to Pascal and Lynton, he related that Kotick “is very unhappy with the ‘World of Warcraft’ deal with Legendary,” a reference to the still-in-production film based on “World of Warcraft,” which is set for a 2016 release. It was previously scheduled to debut in theatres December 2015.
As such, Kotick apparently wanted to handle any film adaptations going forward. Rothman’s goal at the meeting with Kotick is explained succinctly in the email from March: “The basic idea of the meeting is to try to COAX him towards us, by letting him retain control, but having the full studio support etc.”
The email thread ends there, and it’s not clear if the meeting between Sony Pictures executives and Activision CEO Bobby Kotick resulted in a deal between the two entertainment giants. There certainly isn’t anything announced based on what’s in these emails. When reached for comment, an Activision representative told Business Insider, “We’re excited to be working with Legendary and Universal and they are fantastic partners.” — a reference to the claim that Activision CEO Bobby Kotick was unhappy with the “World of Warcraft” film deal between Activision and Legendary.
Activision didn’t offer comment on anything else detailed in the leaked emails, and Sony Pictures has yet to respond as of publishing.