Rovio Entertainment has had a long run in the gaming, animation and licensing world with Angry Birds. Now, it’s taking its famous fowl brand into TV and stage shows for the first time.
The integration is part of the Finnish company’s new multiyear content roadmap for the property, driven by Sony Pictures’ September 2019 theatrical release of The Angry Birds Movie 2. Along with new original animated content for Angry Birds’ YouTube channel, a long-form animated series planned for 2020, and location-based entertainment projects, live-action series and live stage shows will play big roles in the long-term sustainability and relevancy of the brand.
In June, Rovio announced its first live-action project, Angry Birds Challenge (working title), a TV game show featuring large-scale obstacle courses.
Currently in development with New York-based reality TV specialist Big Fish Entertainment (Live PD for A&E), the concept will see teams of contestants collect bird ammo, destroy guard towers and race to save eggs.
“With the craze of American Ninja Warrior, there are people at home building their own training courses. But this also goes way back to the early days of Angry Birds, when people were setting up shooting galleries in their backyards,” says Rovio’s head of content licensing, Joe Lawson. “So we thought, who wouldn’t want to step into the world of the Angry Birds games and live and breathe it?”
President Dan Cesareo and chief creative officer Lucilla D’Agostino are executive producing for Big Fish, alongside Jeff Bennett (NBC’s The Wall) and Lawson.
Rovio’s second live-action series, Angry Birds: BirLd Cup launched on the IP’s YouTube channel in celebration of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The competition-based hybrid series tapped into the power of influencers, with each team captained by a young YouTube star.
Before the development of both series, Lawson says Rovio experimented with a couple of Angry Birds live-action shows—Rocket Science Show and Fun Game Coding—for Toons TV and YouTube.
“[They were both] great from an educational perspective, but they weren’t built for a [streaming] audience. With BirLd Cup, we used a real YouTube approach of bite-size entertainment,” says Lawson.
To date, BirLd Cup is nearing three million views with two million minutes of content watched.
Meanwhile, Rovio is actively developing live stage shows and launched its first in China in late August. It’s also developing a traveling stage show that will run in the US and Latin America, and an ice show for Eastern Europe.
The biggest challenge with live shows, Lawson says, is costume creation.
“Because of the unique sizes and shapes of our characters, to create something that is functional and allows for acrobatic movement to dance in, but still looks like our characters, is a quite a challenge,” he says.