8:48am PT by John Gaudiosi
'Angry Birds' Movie Hires 'Despicable Me' Producer
With Angry Birds continuing to expand into new merchandising and licensing opportunities, including Angry Birds Star Wars, the video game developer has set its sights on Hollywood.
Rovio Entertainment has enlisted producer John Cohen (Despicable Me) to produce the Angry Birds 3D computer-generated feature film. The game studio previously hired David Maisel, former chairman of Marvel Studios and executive producer of Iron Man, as executive producer of the project. The movie will be released in summer 2016. Rovio will produce and finance the movie.
“John’s an exceptionally talented producer, and we’re delighted to have him join the flock,” said Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio. “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.”
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Cohen most recently produced Illumination Entertainment/Universal Pictures' Despicable Me in 2010 and executive produced Illumination/Universal's Hop in 2011. Before Illumination, Cohen was vp production at Twentieth Century Fox Animation. He worked closely with Blue Sky Studios on films including Ice Age, Robots, Ice Age: The Meltdown and Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who. Cohen had the idea to reimagine Alvin and the Chipmunks and developed the 2007 film.
“I’m so excited and honored to be working on this film with Mikael, David and Rovio’s incredibly talented game developers and artists,” said Cohen. “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. I've personally spent countless hours playing the Angry Birds games the last few years, which I can now happily justify as research for the movie."
Following Maisel's Marvel Studios’ example, Rovio will produce and finance the movie outside the studio system and retain full creative control.
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"John's experience, expertise and passion are perfect for the Angry Birds film, and I look forward to working with him to create the best movie experience for all the fans,” said Maisel.
The movie marks Rovio’s first foray into feature films, though fans have already gotten an introduction to the Angry Birds world through Rovio’s games, books, consumer products and animation. Since its debut in 2009, the Angry Birds game has been downloaded more than 1 billion times across platforms and versions. The most recent venture, Angry Birds Star Wars, soared to the top of the U.S. iPhone charts within 2.5 hours of release.
“It has to be everything that you’d expect from an Angry Birds movie as a fan of the game, plus so much more with surprises, innovative things and twists,” said Maisel. “It’s something that we’ve worked already a lot on and we will over the next few years. It’s an experience that you’ll say, ‘Wow, I didn’t expect that.’ ”