Angry Birds: The Virtual Bird Flu Everyone's Caught
Which is not to say the game hasn’t made an impact in the pop culture world, name-dropped in everything from 30 Rock to The Daily Show; it’s also acquired fans on the order of British Prime Minister David Cameron and author Salman Rushdie (who considers himself “something of a master” at the game). One of its most unusual appearances may have been in puppet form on an Israeli comedy TV show, with supposed peace talks between the birds and the pigs satirizing the country’s negotiations with the Palestinians. (“I wish my father was here,” moans one of the pigs, “he was killed on level 9 of the free version.”)
Rovio obviously wants very much to develop Angry Birds into an ongoing entertainment franchise; part of the reason the company continually introduces new versions and additional levels to the game. “There are a lot of people in Hollywood who seem to think that it would make sense to do movies and TV and so on,” says Vesterbacka, “but we haven't really made up our mind on that.”
What with its Rio tie-in, one might think Fox’s Blue Sky studio would be natural starting point for a possible Angry Birds movie, but a company spokesperson says “nothing I know of or that is known within Fox that we’re going to pursue has to do with Angry Birds.”
In June Rovio announced that former Marvel Studios Chairman David Maisel was joining the company as its “Special Advisor,” with an eye towards developing Birds as an entertainment property. Maisel, who raised some half-billion dollars to help launch Marvel as an independent studio and led the negotiations that culminated in Disney’s purchase of the company, is as heavy a Hollywood hitter as they come. Even he may find it challenging to launch a franchise based on a game that for all its hundreds of levels and dozens of versions, boils down to an endless number of variations on launching a projectile with a virtual slingshot.
Every video game movie to date has been based on console games that offer complex stories, characters and levels – and in all likelihood have much more intensely devoted fan followings than something you play to pass the time while standing on line at the bank.
Joe Strike is a regular contributor to AWN. He has written about animation, sci-fi and fantasy entertainment for the New York Daily News, Newsday and the New York Press. Joe has scripted the Nick Jr. series Wow! Wow! Wubbzy! and taught Mass Communications at New York's St. John's University. He is currently hosting “Interview with an Animator” [animator.interviews.com], a series of audience-attended conversations with noted figures in the animation community at a variety of New York City venues, including the Paley Center for the Media, The Society of Illustrators and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art. Joe can be reached via email@example.com.