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Call of Duty movie director wants to make a soldier film, not a war film

After Sicario 2, Stefano Sollima expects to jump on this long-awaited adaptation

call of duty modern warfare 3 Activision

When Activision Blizzard Studios launched way back in 2015, bringing the juggernaut Call of Duty franchise to the big screen was a top priority. Initial plans had the first Call of Duty movie set to drop in 2018 or 2019. While it doesn’t seem likely for this year, the studio may just hit that 2019 date.

The “first” Call of Duty movie being a key takeaway. Vocal producers have already mapped out extensive plans for a Call of Duty cinematic universe, ostensibly giving all the different permutations of the series a chance to have their turn on the big screen.

While it remains to be seen whether one Call of Duty film will be a success, let alone scores of them, Activision Blizzard seems to be setting itself up well with the director they’ve reportedly locked down for the first installment.

Italian director Stefano Sollima is fresh off his first English-language film, Sicario: Day of the Soldado, which, like the first Sicario film, focuses on modern, urban warfare, with plenty of guns, combat and armored vehicles. It would be hard to imagine a better practice run for a Call of Duty film.

Benicio Del Toro in Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Benicio Del Toro in Sicario: Day of the Soldado
Sony Pictures

Sollima has been specializing in gritty action for some time now. His debut feature, All Cops Are Bastards, also focused on well-armed military types fighting in the streets. It’s easy to look at his body of work and see a natural fit, especially if the first movie in the series focuses on the Modern Warfare or Black Ops iterations.

Polygon had a chance to speak with Sollima during a Sicario: Day of the Soldado press junket in Los Angeles, and while he was unable to share specific details or plot points — after all, he has yet to be formally announced as the director of the Call of Duty film, and Activision Blizzard likely doesn’t want anything out there story-wise at this point — he did share thoughts on the kind of Call of Duty he’d like to see, and his take on the franchise in general.

When discussing his current film, Sollima lamented the disappearance of modern soldier movies, which would understandably make the Call of Duty franchise very appealing to him. “We’re talking about so few movies like [Sicario: Day of the Soldado] that are being produced every year,” Sollima said. “And it’s a pity, because it’s like we are trying to reassure, and to make make a simple movie for the audience, but sometimes it’s good also to shake the audience and show them something more visual — that’s more tough.”

And yes, he’s very, very familiar with the Call of Duty franchise, beyond being in talks to helm the first film based on the games. “I played, and then I play with my two kids,” said Sollima. “Even though I die faster than them, so it’s more that I [watch] them playing, especially [the most recent installment].

Sollima says he has either played or watched “almost everything they did in the last seven years” in the franchise. While he’s unable to talk any specifics about the Call of Duty film franchise, he was willing to answer when asked about what sort of movie he’d like to make as an entrée into a Call of Duty film franchise.

“Let’s put it this way,” Sollima began. “Another kind of movie that’s missed … is a movie that talks about soldiers. So not a war movie, but a soldier movie. I think that this is what I will do. I think it’s a missing part. [There have recently been] some movies [about] soldiers, but only some of them are masterpieces. I think I miss modern [soldier movies]. As an audience.”

As for what sets the Call of Duty franchise and a future Call of Duty movie apart from a seminal film like Black Hawk Down, Sollima said, “It’s going to be completely different. I think the trickiest part in doing a movie from a video game is that you’re doing a movie from a video game. But if you figure out how to respect the soul of the entire franchise, and keeping just this and putting in a movie, it’s a completely different experience.”

As for what defines that soul of the Call of Duty franchise, Sollima believes that the games “tell a story. A real story about a soldier, in an entertaining, fun-to-play way.”

Bill Hanstock has been working in entertainment reporting and digital media for over a decade. He is a former senior editor and writer for SB Nation and UPROXX.

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