Sony Will Distribute Rovio's 'Angry Birds' Movie

We just gave you the Rio 2 teaser, and now here's an appropriate accompaniment. The original Rio was promoted with a movie-specific version of the massively popular mobile game Angry Birds, and the original Angry Birds concept (inasmuch as it can be called a concept, at least as far as a movie goes) is also being turned into a film.

Rovio, the company that developed the game, is making the movie in-house, but has just signed a big contract to distribute it. Sony will now put the movie in theaters on July 1, 2016.

John Cohen (Despicable Me) is producing, and David Maisel, who helped create Marvel Studios and was the chairman of that outfit from 2007 until Disney's acquisition of Marvel, is an exec producer. He's been working as an advisor to Rovio since 2011.

A press release skirts around any mention of what the story might be. It does say,

The upcoming movie marks Rovio Entertainment's first foray into feature films, although fans have already been introduced to the Angry Birds world with the weekly Angry Birds Toons animated series. Rovio launched the series in March through its Angry Birds apps as well as on select video-on-demand channel providers, Smart TVs, connected devices, and on select TV networks around the world. Paving the way for a full-length feature film, Angry Birds Toons has been a massive success for Rovio clocking in over 150 million views from the Angry Birds apps alone within the first six weeks.

And Michael Lynton, Chairman & CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment and Amy Pascal, Co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment, said,

Every studio in town would love to add Angry Birds to their slate. There are few titles out there that bring this kind of excitement, brand awareness and built-in audience to the table. We're thrilled to be distributing this film and we hope this is just the beginning of what will be a long relationship with Rovio as we look for ways to work on future projects together.

In other words, "this game has been downloaded a billion times, so we're pretty sure we can make money here." (Only 25% of those downloads are paid, however. We'll see if people really want to pay for Angry Birds, though merch sales suggest Sony and Rovio aren't taking a big risk.)