Activision Mulls Guitar Hero TV Series

The worldwide hit video game Guitar Hero could become a reality TV show and/or a real-life concert tour, people familiar with the discussions said Thursday.

Hero is from Activision Blizzard, a leading video game publisher that is looking to turn some of its games into TV and film properties.

Activision’s cross-platform interests don’t end at Hero either; discussions are under way to turn the World of Warcraft and Call of Duty video games into movies.

“They are being talked about for the big screen,” said one person with knowledge of the details.

Legendary Pictures actually picked up the film rights to Warcraft about three years ago but hasn’t moved much on the project since then. It’s Web site still calls it a “future production.”

Legendary has co-produced with Warner Bros. a string of hits that include The Dark Knight and 300.

In an interview prior to Thursday’s quarterly earnings conference call, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick wouldn’t comment on the status of a Warcraft movie or speculation that Duty would also become a film. But asked about the Hero franchise he did say, “It might make for a good TV show or a good concert tour.”

Hero and Duty in the first quarter were two of the Top 5 best-selling franchises across all video game platforms in Europe and the U.S. World of Warcraft: Wrath of the Lich King was the top PC game, in terms of revenue, in the U.S.

Kotick added that video games, especially family-friendly Hero, are “capturing leisure time away from TV and film. Not that readers of The Hollywood Reporter want to hear that.”

Evidence that Kotick might be correct was in the company’s financial report on Thursday. Activision Blizzard said first-quarter revenue more than tripled to $981 million as net income swelled to $189 million from $43 million in the year-ago quarter.

Comparisons with last year are an inaccurate measure of success because Activision hadn’t yet been merged with Vivendi Games and renamed Activision Blizzard a year ago. More reflective of the company’s momentum is that it beat expectations in the first quarter and it raised its full-year revenue guidance by $100 million to $4.3 billion.

“We have growth and we’re making money. That’s better than others can say,” Kotick said.

Activision Blizzard this year will release several new Guitar Hero games including DJ Hero, which includes a turntable controller along with hip-hop, Motown and other dance music, and Band Hero, which caters to younger players and features top-40 hits. There’s also a Guitar Hero: Van Halen and a Guitar Hero: Smash Hits coming soon.

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