In Hollywood, video game movies are a risky business, even in the world of animation. Ratchet & Clank failed to click with critics and cause a ruckus at the box office. Warcraft stormed China to record box office numbers, but it still might lose money for Universal and Legendary (while rumblings of a sequel persist). The only all-around success for this type of film in terms of box office numbers (and even in terms of critical response) was The Angry Birds Movie.
While reviews for the film were more mixed than most other animated movies this year, it currently stands as the best-reviewed video game movie thus far (not a high bar to accomplish) and with $346.9 million grossed worldwide on a budget of $73 million, it’s one of the highest-grossing video game adaptations of all time (next to Warcraft). As you would expect, executives at Sony and Rovio looked at the numbers, jumped for joy, and gave us the following news story from Thursday of last week.
In a Wall Street Journal exclusive report, Rovio officially confirmed that they are developing a sequel to The Angry Birds Movie. Without disclosing any further details, Rovio CEO Kati Levoranta simply confirmed the news via this short statement: “We have started planning the sequel to The Angry Birds Movie.”
While it can be safely assumed that Sony Pictures will partner with Rovio once again and that the main cast will be expected to return, it’s unclear if directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reily or screenwriter Jon Vitti will return.
The announcement came as Rovio trumpeted its improved earnings for the first half of 2016. According to the company, those numbers don’t include generated revenue from the movie.
Rovio’s struggles to maintain and even replicate the success of their Angry Birds franchise are well documented. For three straight years after the initial success of the Angry Birds games, Rovio was hit with declining revenue numbers and posted an operating loss of 13 million in pounds (EU dollar) last year. Several rounds of layoffs also decimated their workforce, with 470 people compared to 800 in 2014. As was widely reported some time ago, key personnel who had a hand in working on the film were spared from the most recent round of layoffs that cut an estimated 250 jobs.
Now, it would appear that a solid first quarter in earnings, combined with the success of the movie, has instilled Rovio with a new-found confidence. The company also confirmed to WSJ that their games division experienced a revenue growth of about 24% during the first half of the year and that they are actively developing a number of new games and IP.
In short, Sony and Rovio worked hard to strike box office gold with The Angry Birds Movie and it worked. But can they pull it off on the second round? As always, only time will tell.
What do you think? If you’ve seen The Angry Birds Movie, do you think it warranted a sequel?