Netflix Orders More ‘Skylanders Academy’ as Activision Blizzard Slate Ramps Up

Stacey Sher, Nick Van Dyk content division stays close to family fare with “adventure, humor and heart”

Last Updated: February 4, 2017 @ 2:36 PM

Activision Blizzard’s “Skylanders Academy” has been picked up for a third season at Netflix, the companies announced this week.

The first original TV series developed and produced by the gaming giant’s content studio, run by Co-Presidents Stacey Sher and Nick Van Dyk, is an animated collaboration with France’s TeamTO.

“Our focus, really, is to continue to make family entertainment that is filled with adventure, humor and heart,” Sher told TheWrap of the renewal.

For an animated series, the show is produced at a remarkable speed. Season one premiered in October of 2016.  It stars new addition Felicia Day (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer”), and returning voice leads Justin Long and Ashley Tisdale. Season two featured Susan Sarandon, Parker Posey, James Hetfield, Catherine O’Hara, Bobcat Goldthwait and Chris Diamantopoulos.

“Skylanders Academy” is based on the juggernaut game Skylanders (valued at $3.5 billion). The scripted offshoot follows its own narrative trajectory but Sher and Van Dyk found exciting opportunities for cross-pollination.

A game initiative called Skylanders Imagineers let game users create their own individual characters — one of which is now featured in the animated cast.

“What’s helpful about the game is the global reach it has. The challenging part about our content is to deliver this in 23 languages,” Sher said. “But we have a mandate to deliver the quality fans expect and on deadline.”

After a flurry of virtual reality platforms at January’s CES and the Sundance Film Festival, we asked if the show’s integration into the game might be approaching faster than anyone could guess.

“Having looked at it over many years at Disney, any time new tech comes out and it’s original and enhances story telling, great,” said Van Dyk, a former SVP and strategist at Disney. “When its gimmicky it doesn’t work.”

“What James Cameron was for 3D is what we’re waiting for in augmented reality or VR — I think it’s going to be a filmmaker who presents it to the market in such that you can’t see it any other way,” Sher added.

As for the other blockbuster gaming franchises in the Activision Blizzard portfolio, which also counts their acquisition King, the team will next be tackling first-person shooter Call of Duty. News about a planned film universe based on the game is expected soon.

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