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‘Angry Birds’ movie taps ‘Despicable Me’ producer

John Cohen to oversee film version of game for Rovio Entertainment

Three years after “Angry Birds” turned into a runaway franchise for Rovio Entertainment, the Finnish gamemaker has tapped “Despicable Me” producer John Cohen to oversee the film version of the game that’s planned for a summer 2016 release.

Former Marvel Studios chairman David Maisel also will exec produce the 3D film. He has been a special adviser to Rovio with an eye on the company’s entertainment strategy since June 2011.

In fact, under Maisel, Rovio is looking to embrace a model similar to that of Marvel and produce and finance its own slate of projects outside the studio system in order to retain full creative control and ownership.

Angry Birds” marks the company’s first move into filmmaking. So far, the franchise has spun off additional games, books, consumer products and animated shorts that play online.

The mobile games have been downloaded more than 1 billion times across all platforms since 2009, making it the No. 1 paid app of all time. The newest version, “Angry Birds Star Wars,” is out now, while the game has also spun off “Bad Piggies.”

“John’s an exceptionally talented producer, and we’re delighted to have him join the flock,” said Mikael Hed, CEO of Rovio Entertainment. “With John’s hands-on producer background and David’s expertise in establishing and running his own successful studio, these two are the dream team for making a movie outside the studio system. Both professionals have the ideal skills and vision to achieve incredible things.”

In addition to producing “Despicable Me” for Universal-based Illumination Entertainment, Cohen exec produced the toon studio’s “Hop.” Before that, he was VP of production at Twentieth Century Fox Animation, where he worked closely with Blue Sky Studios on “Ice Age,” “Robots,” “Ice Age: The Meltdown” and “Dr. Seuss’ Horton Hears a Who.” He is also credited with the idea to reimagine “Alvin and the Chipmunks” into a film franchise at the studio.

“I’m so excited and honored to be working on this film with Mikael, David, and Rovio’s incredibly talented game developers and artists,” Cohen said. “From both an entertainment and strategic perspective, Rovio is at the forefront of game innovation and is trailblazing terrific new ways for ‘Angry Birds’ fans to interact with these characters. I’ve personally spent countless hours playing the ‘Angry Birds’ games over the last few years, which I can now happily justify as research for the movie.”

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