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Old 05-08-2009, 08:45 AM
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Activision eyes "Guitar Hero" TV series, tour

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) 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 aims to turn some of its games into TV and film properties.

Activision's cross-platform interests don't end at "Hero"; 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.

In an interview before Thursday's quarterly earnings conference call, Activision Blizzard CEO Bobby Kotick wouldn't comment on the movie speculation. But asked about the "Hero" franchise, he said, "It might make for a good TV show or a good concert tour."

"Hero" and "Duty" were two of the top five best-selling franchises across all video game platforms in Europe and the U.S. during the first quarter. "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."

Evidence that Kotick might be correct was in the company's financial report 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 a year ago Activision hadn't yet been merged with Vivendi Games and renamed Activision Blizzard. More reflective of the company's momentum is that it beat expectations in the first quarter and 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 uses a turntable controller for hip-hop, Motown and other dance music, and "Band Hero," which caters to younger players and features top-40 hits. "Guitar Hero: Van Halen" and "Guitar Hero: Smash Hits" also are set for release.
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