Rovio’s “Angry Birds” will be flying to the big screen, as the mobile gaming sensation tackles the latest entertainment venue in its seemingly inexhaustible pursuit of new ventures.
Former Marvel Studio executive David Maisel, which joined Rovio as a special adviser, is expected to be the executive producer of future “Angry Birds” films.
“Rovio has already had amazing success and established a great brand with Angry Birds,” Maisel said. “The business model, intellectual properties and the franchise potential of Angry Birds give Rovio the most exciting prospects I have seen in the entertainment business since Marvel in 2003.”
Marvel Studios and Maisel are responsible for bringing the successful “Iron Man” series to the big screen, and Maisel led the sale of Marvel Entertainment to Disney just last year.
Writers are already working on a script for a full-length film that would develop the game’s backstory. Rovio has been in talks with major studios, and are carefully considering their foray into movies as they attempt to parlay the game into a true entertainment brand.
The company is at a precipice with “Angry Birds,” where it must keep that title alive with merchandising and new editions in order to sustain interest in a future film, but it must also develop other hit games to prove it has legs beyond what is becoming its main franchise.
Expanding its franchise is no small feat as well, especially for a title that began on the mobile platform. Rovio CEO Mikael Hed said he has studied other gaming concepts that moved to the big screen and he has some ideas on how to translate his game about vengeful birds and greedy pigs to the movie platform.
In addition, the company’s acquisition of Finnish animation studio Kombo and news of its recent grant award from the Finnish Film Foundation signal the seriousness of this venture.
“We are working on the mythology with the movie script and we don’t want to shape the mythology too far until we have that one nail in place,” Hed said. “We’ve seen too many movies based on games that have not performed well.”
Angry Birds games zoomed to the top of the iPhone charts last year and are now available on Android phones, desktop computers, Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-reader, and a Facebook version is in development.
The Birds, which racked up more than 250 million downloads, are just about everywhere — from plush toys and bedding to board games and cookbooks.
They’ve also had a brush with Hollywood fame in their tie-in with this year’s animated movie, “Rio.”
Rovio, which just received a $42 million venture capital infusion, is reportedly considering an IPO in the next couple years, according to CEO Mikael Hed. The success of a public offering based solely on Angry Birds is doubtful, however, and until that is replicated with another title, a public offering remains uncertain.
Hed, a game developer for years before the skyrocketing success of the 18 month-old Angry Birds, said the company will not be remembered only as a one-hit wonder and believes his company’s growth hasn’t peaked.
“People are still migrating from old-fashioned phones to touch screen devices, and in emerging markets, that’s creating whole new audiences that may not have a TV before but now could have an Android device,” Hed said. “Catering to that audience is important for any media company in the future.”