Netflix is looking to Splinter Cell for its next big video game adaptation
July 30, 2020
Netflix and Ubisoft’s first project together is an animated adaptation of the gaming publisher’s Splinter Cell series, the company announced today.
The streamer has ordered two seasons from the get-go, for a total of 16 episodes, according to Variety. John Wick writer Derek Kolstad is set to oversee the project. Details about the show remain under wraps, but the long-running video game franchise, based on Tom Clancy’s book series, follows former Navy SEAL Sam Fisher as he takes on a number of different missions for the NSA.
While a Netflix show may not be the announcement Splinter Cell fans were waiting on, it is a show of how Netflix is approaching video game IP. The Splinter Cell animated series follows a couple of big bets on gaming franchises, including Netflix’s live-action adaptation of The Witcher and its animated adaptation of Castlevania. Although Netflix executives and creatives working on The Witcher have said it’s based on the popular series of books by author Andrzej Sapkowski, the franchise rose to prominence in large part because of the games. Both shows seem to have performed well for Netflix; Castlevania finished its third season, and The Witcher has received a prequel spinoff series.
Netflix co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos were asked about mining video games for future series and movies during the company’s last earnings calls. Both acknowledged that while gaming can do incredibly successful worldbuilding, it wasn’t necessarily a go-to area for the company when looking into IP that can become franchises at Netflix.
“I think franchise is active, successful world-building,” Sarandos said. “And video games obviously have a world-building aspect to them, but so do books and so do graphic novels and so do comic books and so does original IP. And really, this is a matter of how well it’s executed.”
But Sarandos also acknowledged that when it works, regardless of where the source material is coming from, it works. In the case of The Witcher, Netflix announced in January that the show was watched by 76 million households in approximately four weeks. Those numbers, based on accounts that watched at least two minutes of the show, made it the most-watched first season of television for Netflix at the time. The success spurred a prequel series and an animated spinoff — a strategy seemingly in line with Sarandos’ view of franchise building at Netflix.
“If you do it well, people want to come back for more,” Sarandos said, speaking about franchises. “And you don’t disappoint them. You can keep doing it. So we’re really thrilled about it and thrilled about doing it from a variety of sources.”