Finnish game maker Rovio has more than one reason to be angry at its business for the past year. As mega hit Angry Birds lost ground to other equally addictive mobile games, such as Candy Crush Saga, so have Rovio's sales and profits. The company needs to bring the brand back to life and that's why it is moving it to the big screen: Angry Birds - the 3D movie will be released in May 2016, with Sony Pictures as the distribution partner.
Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones, Jason Sudeikis, from Horrible Bosses and Josh Gad from Frozen have all been casted. The Simpsons veteran Jon Vitti is writing the film, which will be co-directed by Fergal Reilly from The Smurfs and Clay Katis from Wreck-It Ralph.
This might explain why the venture will be much more expensive than what anyone could've imagined two years ago, when talks of a feature film started. This 3D movie is getting a £54 million budget, and more than that will be spent in marketing, distribution, and promotion. Sony Entertainment is paying for a part, of course.
But it's Rovio's neck on the line. Pekka Rantala, the company's CEO, is confident that the movie will reignite the game's popularity and promised new licensing agreements and partnerships soon. This week, the Finnish game publisher reported sour numbers for 2014, with a 73% decline in operational profits and a 9% fall in overall sales, to £114 million.
"2014 results show that steps in the game portfolio, free-to-play competency building, and advertising are going in the right direction", said the CEO in a statement. He believes the company will get back to growth this year.
The problem with Rovio is that it is too reliant on the Angry Birds series, which has expanded far beyond the mobile game into merchandising, consumer products, theme parks, sweets, and even tv shows.
The publisher has launched 10 different versions, from Transformers to Star Wars, but has been unable to match the success of the title with other games or characters. Angry Birds is now six-years-old and other games have risen; more importantly, the market has shifted to a free-to-play model, in which revenues come from ads and in-app purchases.
Analysts have cast doubts on the long-term success of Rovio. It seems to be stuck and some call it a "one-hit wonder." In 2015, the company launched a new game, Jolly Jam, and another Angry-Birds related title, Stella POP!. Ratala mentioned Angry Birds Fight will be the first to be created specifically for Japan, that remains the most important game market in the world. #Videogames #Cinema