Netflix Picks Up Justin Long, Ashley Tisdale Animated Series ‘Skylanders Academy’

Video game-based series is the first production from publisher Activision Blizzard’s recently formed TV and film studio

Last Updated: June 16, 2016 @ 8:42 AM

Video game giant Activision Blizzard is bringing its popular “Skylanders” series to the small screen with the animated “Skylanders Academy” on Netflix, the companies announced on Thursday.

The game publisher announced in late 2015 its plans to spearhead its own ventures into Hollywood with an in-house production studio, and those plans will come to fruition later this year, with a two-season commitment from the streaming service.

The series, which was initially announced alongside the formation of Activision Blizzard Studios last year, will star Justin Long in the lead as the dragon Spyro, along with Ashley Tisdale,  Norm McDonald and Jonathan Banks. Susan Sarandon, Parker Posey, Catherine O’Hara, Daniel Wu and Bobcat Goldthwait will also make voice appearances. Eric Rogers is showrunner.

“Over the last five years, millions of families around the world have welcomed ‘Skylanders’ characters into their homes. Now, they’ll be able to watch their favorite characters come to life on Netflix,” said Bobby Kotick, CEO of Activision Blizzard. “We couldn’t have found a better home for ‘Skylanders Academy’ and look forward to sharing our extraordinary characters with Netflix audiences around the world.”

“Skylanders” the video game franchise is a part of the “toys-to-life” genre of action/adventure games that involves placing a collectible figure on a “portal” connected to a game system, which in turn allows the user to play as that character. Most of the collectible figures are sold separately, so toys-to-life is nearly an industry in itself. The fifth “Skylanders” game, “Skylanders Imaginators,” will launch in October.

The health of “toys-to-life” came into question in 2016 when Disney announced it was shuttering its own efforts in the genre, represented by the “Disney Infinity” games. But “Skylanders,” which originated the genre in 2011 as a spinoff of Activision’s “Spyro the Dragon” series, carries on. Activision Blizzard says it has sold more than 250 million toys in the “Skylanders” franchise since 2011.

“Skylanders Academy” will be the first Activision Blizzard production to see the light of day, but not the last — the company had previously announced plans to turn its blockbuster game franchise “Call of Duty” into what it calls a “robust cinematic universe.”

Legendary Pictures’ “Warcraft,” a film from based Activision Blizzard property “World of Warcraft,” hit movie theaters earlier this month.