Rovio Entertainment head of strategic partnerships Andrew Stalbow [pictured] premieres extracts of 52 Angry Birds shorts at MIPCOM, says company has long-format ambitions.
Rumours have been rife that Finnish Rovio Entertainment’s one billion download Angry Birds game is due a movie makeover ever since the company hired former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel in 2011.
Andrew Stalbow — head of strategic partnerships at Rovio and the man behind Angry Birds’ recently announced tie-in with Star Wars, and before that the 20th Century Fox animation Rio — gave yet another indication that the move is on the cards during a keynote in MIPCOM on Wednesday.
“Angry Birds Rio did two things: it served as an amazing marketing platform for Fox to reach a brand new audience on connected devices and it gave Rovio a taste of Hollywood and the ability to see the amazing marketing power of Hollywood,” he told the audience.
Stalbow premiered extracts from the upcoming series of 52 Angry Birds Shorts, which were first announced last April and are currently being made by 80 animators based out of Helsinki. Rovio bought Finnish Kombo Animation Studio to get the job done.
“Rovio learned right from the beginning that short form videos were a great way to tell the audience about new games but these videos became so popular – we’ve had 700 million views of our animated shorts on YouTube – that we started thinking that rather than using them simply as a promotional tool we should look at them as a standalone business unit,” he explained.
“The 52 animated shorts series is just the start of our video business and we’re really looking forward to bringing it to the market later this year,” he continued. “The team in Helsinski is very passionate about telling stories that will last generations. We’re very inspired by what Walt Disney did and how we can create content that can stand the test of time.”
Stalbow said Rovio is in discussions with several potential broadcast partners for the series but had no announcements to make just yet.
On the subject of a potential feature-length film, Stalbow responded: “The short form series is just a start. Having David (Maisel) on board as a special advisor is just amazing for us. David created Marvel Studios when Marvel Comics decided to make movies themselves. He’s given the company a lot of advice about how to approach Hollywood.”
“Because of the success and reach of Angry Birds, Hollywood is very hot for the brand. We’re working on some interesting projects,” he added, declining to give more details.
Stalbow was speaking just two days after Rovio announced it was joining forces with Lucasfilm to create a new version of the game, Angry Birds Star Wars, in which the birds take on Star Wars roles – Red Bird, for example, has been reincarnated as Luke Skywalker.
As well as premiering some short teaser videos for the franchise and showing off the related plush toy merchandising which is a key prong of the operation — some 25 million Rovio-themed toys were sold in 2011 - Stalbow also talked through the genesis of the project due to go live on November 8.
“We were being approached by a number of entertainment companies about potential partnerships… We’re an amazing way for an entertainment owner or a studio to reach a very big, engaged audience,” explained Stalbow.
“We took a step back and decided to take a look at which brand we would like to partner with,” he continued. “Collectively we’re all massive Star Wars fans at the company and we thought such a partnership would be something incredible which would take our gameplay to a new level.”
It’s not the first time the Angry Birds have been rocketed into space. Last March, Rovio created Angry Birds Space in partnership with the US space agency NASA.
“We launched it from the international space station with a NASA astronaut showing the effects of zero gravity on an angry bird in a slingshot… but the Star Wars deal takes our space programme to a whole new level,” he said.