No one would have imagined that the top box office hit for the weekend of May 20, 2016, would be a movie based on a cell phone app. The PG-rated “The Angry Birds Movie,” selling $39 million in tickets domestically on opening weekend, edged out “Captain America: Civil War,” at $33.1 million, “Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising,” at $21.8 million and “The Nice Guys,” at $11.3 million.
Due to clever writing, beautiful animation and a track record of firsts, “The Angry Birds Movie” now gets to add “becoming the first movie based off an app to sweep the U.S. box office” to Finnish developer Rovio Entertainment’s list of bar-raising accomplishments.
Angry Birds’ Sky-High Popularity
Angry Birds debuted in 2009 as a simple pay-to-download cell phone app, but by May 9, 2012, this digital kingdom built on exploding birds and egg-snatching pigs would sell its one-billionth copy, making it the first franchise ever to do so in the history of mobile gaming.
Even though the franchise included the original Angry Birds, Angry Birds Seasons, Angry Birds Rio and Angry Birds Space by the time of the record, it was an impressive triumph that quickly led to another first: the first sale of an app’s movie rights (on May 15, 2013).
Angry Birds Tie-Ins: Theme Parks, Fast Food & More
The popularity of Angry Birds caught on like wildfire. From the 11 theme parks spread across the UK, China, Malaysia, Russia, Spain and Finland to the first official licensed video game merchandise shop (based in Helsinki, Finland), Angry Birds was driving the global app gaming community mad and themed experiences were popping up everywhere. Then, just when the fires of fandom seemed to be dying down, word of “The Angry Birds Movie” started going around, along with new tie-ins to the upcoming film.
For example, one of Lego’s newest lines of snap-together building kits gives kids all the tools they need to build Angry Bird themed environments like the King Pig’s Castle or the Piggy Pirate Ship.
McDonald’s has also jumped on the bandwagon, releasing special sandwiches and desserts in anticipation of the film. Chinese McDonald’s are currently hosting bright green “Naughty Green Pork Burgers” and “Super Red Burgers.” The clever design of these pork and chicken sandwiches isn’t lost on fans of the franchise.
Similarly, in the Philippines, McDonald’s are mixing up special limited time only “Red’s Cotton Candy McFlurry” and “Piggies’ Oreo Matcha McFlurry” treats just in time for summer. Soft serve cones can come dipped with “Bomb’s Black Sesame McDip,” a sesame-flavored hard candy shell at some locations.
The Birds Have Come Out Swinging, Even Angrier
Although many predicted that “The Angry Birds Movie” was a last-ditch effort of a dying entertainment studio, especially on the heels of news of massive job cuts last fall, it seems that those Angry Birds are still fighting. Rovio has spent the last couple of years trying to reposition itself as a player in the educational realm, which may have justified dramatically reorganizing certain departments.
Whatever they’ve been doing, their showing at the box office over the weekend certainly demonstrates there’s plenty of interest in now and future Rovio products.
This is great news for the newest member of the Rovio family, Fun Academy. The academy takes familiar characters and environments from Angry Birds, but uses them to teach important concepts that support “engagement, creativity and innovative thinking” for three- to six-year-olds. The Rovio Fun Academy programs are primarily based in Asia, but are slowly making their way across the globe.
On-screen or in the classroom, it seems that Angry Birds have more staying power than critics could have predicted. “The Angry Birds Movie” promises to have a little something for everyone, from commentary on pop culture to anger management tips for your avian friends.
As we most recently wrote about last year, Rovio’s Angry Birds franchise is one that has certainly taken (and continues to take) the world by storm.
At the time, the company’s revenues were slowing and profit decreasing for its flagship title. It wasn’t clear how new games like “Angry Birds Go!” would fare. We decided to check back with Angry Birds and see what’s new.
Changes to Angry Birds Transformers. Most recently, a big update (v1.3.18) to the Angry Birds “Transformers” app brings new characters, levels, game zones, outfits and events. Characters, who can now be dressed up in different equipment or gear, are more easily customized and differentiated from other people’s characters. The early buzz is that players like and are welcoming these changes.
Angry Birds and Burger King promo. Later this month, the UK arm of Burger King is set to launch a new promo featuring Angry Birds themed kids meals. Characters from “Angry Birds Go” and “Stella” will be featured on packaging and on toys found inside the meal boxes and bags. Stores will also be decorated accordingly.
“The Angry Birds franchise is well-known for crossing all generations and offers the perfect opportunity for us to connect with all members of the family,” explained Matthew Bresnahan, BK’s marketing director for Northern Europe, Russia and Africa. It’s worth noting that Rovio also teamed up with McDonalds (in Japan) back in 2012.
An entertainment empire? When we visited the Angry Birds empire last year, we talked about Rovio Chief Executive Mikael Hed, who is focused on transitioning the company from “one-hit wonder” to entertainment empire. Rovio seems quite good at paying close attention to the gaming market and making adjustments.
Much more for Rovio. Clearly, gaming isn’t the end game for Rovio. The company’s goal is to be an entertainment company with multiple streams of income from its intellectual property. Although it started with mobile games, there are plans to continue their growth into animation and consumer products. The Angry Birds characters have been licensed for a variety of products and there are plans for a feature film to be released in 2016.
Diversification will be key for Rovio, and in order to create credible and sustainable growth, the company will need to continue to seek ways to innovate in an ever-changing market – something it seems to be doing quite well already.
Original What’s Next For Angry Birds? Post
There’s no denying that Rovio’s Angry Birds franchise has taken the world by storm.
But does it have long lasting power? The gaming company is facing slowing revenue growth and profit declines that are troubling for their flagship title. New games like “Angry Birds Go!” haven’t been as popular as expected, and the rumors of an initial public offering are dying down.
An entertainment empire? As a result, Rovio Chief Executive Mikael Hed is focused on overhauling the revenue model and transitioning the company from “one hit wonder” to entertainment empire.
The gaming landscape has changed significantly since Angry Birds hit the scene. Now the free-to-play model has been fully embraced by the industry as a whole, and Rovio has followed suit. It has started offering downloads for free and then charging based on in-game purchases, rather than having a purchase price for games.
They are also paying close attention to the gaming market and making adjustments. After the success (and quick failure) of the low-tech Flappy Bird game, Rovio developed Retry. The game has simple tap-and-fly gameplay similar to Flappy Bird as well as retro graphics.
Much more for Rovio. However, gaming isn’t the end game for Rovio. The company’s goal is to be an entertainment company that has several streams of income from their intellectual property. Although it started with mobile games, there are plans to continue their growth into animation and consumer products. The Angry Birds characters have been licensed for a variety of products and there are plans for a feature film to be released in 2016. The film will be the largest individual investment that the company has made, and hopes are high for its success.
Diversification will be key for Rovio, and for any single genre online success. In order to create credible and sustainable growth, the company will need to continue to seek ways to innovate in an ever-changing market.