‘The Angry Birds Movie’ Aiming High

By Phill Powell

It’s only taken seven years for Angry Birds to morph from an unknown mobile app game made by a developer from Finland into a major animated movie from Sony Pictures, opening nationwide May 20th. Take a look…

One of the most popular puzzle games of all time is now an animated film! (© 2016 Sony Pictures Digital Productions Inc. All rights reserved. © 2016 Rovio Animation Ltd. and Rovio Entertainment Ltd. All rights reserved.)

Now what began as a thumb-driven workout has been fleshed out into a full-length film featuring A-list voice actors. The cast includes four past and current members of Saturday Night Live, along with Game of Thrones’ Peter Dinklage and Josh Gad (Frozen).

Sony is certainly doing its part to promote The Angry Birds Movie as the first in a franchise of films, putting huge advertising muscle behind the movie. The total marketing blitz (including sponsored tie-ins) comes to $400 million, marking the studio’s largest promotional campaign for any animated movie.

A Game Phenomenon Takes Flight

It’s been the biggest rags-to-riches story in mobile app game development. In 2009, Rovio Entertainment released the Angry Birds mobile app. Once it was featured on the UK App Store, it started getting noticed.

Visit the movie’s website and give yourself Red’s oversized eyebrows!

The simple yet rewarding gameplay and colorful, offbeat characters turned a quirky little diversion into the game on everyone’s lips. Soon everyone was playing it and growing completely hooked on it – from TV personalities such as Conan O’Brien to government leaders like British Prime Minister David Cameron.

Then Angry Birds became a massive worldwide phenomenon – sparking some 3.3 billion app downloads. The game was subsequently ported to various platforms. When a version was introduced for Android, more than a million people downloaded the game within 24 hours.

The game’s star characters – a set of puffy round birds with striking plumage and no wings – have proved to be a merchandising bonanza, appearing on everything from T-shirts to backpacks to lunch boxes to…well, you name it.

Chuck (Josh Gad), Red (Jason Sudeikis) and Bomb (Danny McBride) will be waiting for you on Bird Island!

Positively Channeling That Anger

The producers of The Angry Birds Movie had a lot of work to do in bringing the game from smartphone screens to the big screen. For starters, a story had to be created, since the original game was free of backstory, beyond the fact that neighboring pigs have stolen bird eggs and the player’s role is to use a slingshot to fire birds at those pigs. (The goal of the game is to “de-pig” each level.)

In the film, Red (SNL alumnus Jason Sudeikis) is clearly an outsider among the rainbow-colored birds that live on Bird Island. But this ne’er-do-well (and his pals) become the island’s rescuers after an invasion by the game’s notorious green pigs, who arrive in a mechanized clipper ship – one big enough to transport a cargo of stolen bird eggs!

It’s the kind of rousing story that audiences cheer, with an unlikely outsider proving their true heroic nature and saving the day. And it’s the type of tale that Sony is hoping will not only fill movie theaters now but also in years to come, through the magic of sequels.

DMA animation tech camps can show you how to put your imagination into motion!

Animation Nation!

American movie audiences have loved funny and heartwarming animated films since Walt Disney unveiled Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. And there’s no end in sight. In fact, the demand for animated movies has never been greater! From The Angry Birds Movie to recent classics like Inside Out and Frozen, theatergoers are still enchanted by moving pictures.

Learn how to make cartoon magic happen yourself this summer at Digital Media Academy animation tech camps.

Or maybe you want to learn app development – perhaps designing your own supercool mobile game app? DMA can show you how to do that, too.