When it was first revealed that Rovio, a games publisher known only for its mega-successful Angry Birds franchise, has plans to adapt the casual gaming hit for the silver screen, most people (even hardcore Angry Birds fans) sighed, rolled their eyes and declared that they’d believe it once they actually saw it in theaters. We aren’t quite there yet, but this morning Rovio issued an announcement that firmly places the project a few steps closer to completion. Specifically, Angry Birds The Movie (or whatever it ends up being titled) now has a producer and an official release window.
The latter you likely already figured out based on this article’s headline. Barring any catastrophic setbacks, Angry Birds will debut in theaters at some point during the summer of 2016. That’s a little over three years away, so there’s plenty of time for the aforementioned catastrophic setbacks to crop up, but as of this very moment Rovio’s estimated release window stands.
As for the producer, Rovio has tapped John Cohen for the role. Cohen’s IMDB listing is rather anemic, listing only four titles on which he served as producer, but most notable among those films is 2010’s Despicable Me. During production that Universal Pictures animated feature was expected to be a middling success, so when it took off and established itself as a legitimate hit — Box Office Mojo claims that the film has drawn over half a billion dollars worldwide — Cohen was instantly rocketed into the next higher stratosphere of Hollywood producers. Given that the Angry Birds film will also be a CGI-animated effort aimed primarily at kids (but also hoping to entertain their parents), it makes a lot of sense that Rovio would hire Cohen to produce its movie as well.
As we reported in October, Cohen will be joined behind the scenes on the Angry Birds feature film by David Maisel. Maisel’s name is also presumably unfamiliar to you, but his credits are far more notable than Cohen’s. Not only did Maisel serve as chairman of Marvel Studios from its inception until recently, he’s also credited as an executive producer on Iron Man, 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America. While that wealth of experience may not seem to apply to a film project based on an ubiquitous casual gaming phenomenon animated by computers and written to target the whims of seven-year-olds, it’s important to remember just how much CGI was featured in the aforementioned Marvel superhero flicks. If nothing else, Maisel should be quite comfortable working with characters and film elements that don’t actually exist in our meatspace reality.
“John’s an exceptionally talented producer, and we’re delighted to have him join the flock,” punned Rovio CEO Mikael Hed. “With John’s hands-on producer background and David’s expertise in establishing and running his own successful studio, these two are the dream team for making a movie outside the studio system. Both professionals have the ideal skills and vision to achieve incredible things.”
“From both an entertainment and strategic perspective, Rovio is at the forefront of game innovation and is trailblazing terrific new ways for Angry Birds fans to interact with these characters,” Cohen replied. “I’ve personally spent countless hours playing the Angry Birds games over the last few years, which I can now happily justify as research for the movie.”
The contractually obligated excitement of this film’s crew aside, our cynicism makes us worry that Rovio is only in this for the quick pay day. We can’t fault the company for that, but until we see otherwise we won’t be holding our breath that Angry Birds might be the next Citizen Kane (or even the next Birdemic).