“Angry Birds” May Have Won the Battle, But It Has Lost The War – Animation Scoop

“Angry Birds” May Have Won the Battle, But It Has Lost The War

The announcement that the enormously popular app known as Angry Birds was to be given the silver screen treatment caused a bit of a stir as people began to seriously wonder if an app could even be translated into a feature film, let alone a successful one. After a couple of years’ development the questions were finally answered. For all the film’s success though, it has fallen victim to current states of affairs.

The original Angry Birds app was phenomenally popular and perpetually at the top or at least in the top 10 apps on both Android and Apple platforms. Subsequently in 2012 it was announced that a feature film was in development and production being handled by Sony Imageworks in Vancouver. As the release date got closer, the actual anticipated performance of the film took a back seat to problems at creator Rovio’s headquarters in Finland as round after round of layoffs preceded the film’s completion. The rumored $120 million price tag certainly brought an added layer of anxiety to the production. (Although the budget was later confirmed as being closer to $73 million.)

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Critics endowed it with mixed reviews and there was an air of apprehension surrounding the opening weekend that was noticeably perceivable. Rovio had $400 million in marketing tie-ins and sponsorships lined up and the entire situation was direly ripe for failure. Yet the film succeeded beyond all expectations, grossing $38.2 million in its opening weekend at the US box office and close to $334 million worldwide; which is not superb, but certainly rather respectable.

Besides the entertainment factor, the intent behind the film was plain for all to see. Nobody is going to decry Rovio for attempting to breath life into their greatest hit, but we’re starting to see the lingering effects, or rather the lack thereof.

The Angry Birds Movie came out just barely over a month ago, yet it seems like aeons doesn’t it? Finding Dory has of course come out since then and stolen the limelight away in its own quest for consumer’s attention. As a result, the Angry Birds film has found itself grappling with the current state of the entertainment industry, and feature films in particular.

The situation is such that with the release slate being so full, films only have a few weeks to make an impact, and thereafter they are as good as forgotten. Not for purely malicious reasons you understand, but because something else has come along in the meantime and grabbed everyone’s attention. The days when an animated film could enjoy a relatively prolonged run in the focus of the public’s consciousness are long gone. With animated features being released at ever increasing rates, each film’s time in the limelight becomes every shorter. An example of this phenomenon is Pixar’s The Good Dinosaur which, despite being the studio’s first bone fide flop, was rather serenely ignored by the population in general during a busy holiday season.

The obvious tie-in with The Angry Birds app means that the film was perhaps not intended to make as big a cultural splash as Disney or Pixar tend to aim for, but rather to stimulate interest in the app and the property in general. There’s no harm in that, but it doesn’t encourage the same degree of risk taking that original ideas are apt to exert on creators. An ‘OK’, or ‘good enough’ Angry Birds Movie was adequate for Rovio’s needs and it has performed admirably in that regard. However, the film has failed to seep into the public’s consciousness, and has rapidly being forgotten. This will undoubtedly do harm to its long-term performance and while Christmas is just around the corner, you can be sure that it will be competing with Finding Dory and every other film of the year for consumer’s attention.

In that respect, The Angry Birds Movie won the battle that was the box office and its associated gross receipts, but it hasn’t won the war for relevancy and memorableness. The app and the film are once again headed for relative obscurity thanks to a complete lack of anything to follow-up behind the film to keep the public reminded of it. The marketing push is mostly finished here in the US, and unless Rovio has something unannounced up its sleeve, it might just be game over.

Charles Kenny

Charles Kenny

Being tall, Irish and a civil engineer by trade, Charles stands out in the animation crowd, hence his position as the Animation Anomaly.
Charles Kenny
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  • Nic Kramer

    I’m a little surprised that the film did quite well in the box-office than I expected.