You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘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.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Slam

    Film Review: ‘Slam’

    The disappearance of a fearless female Palestinian-Australian slam poet triggers suspense and powerful social and political commentary in “Slam,” an outstanding slow-burn thriller by expat Indian filmmaker Partho Sen-Gupta (“Sunrise”). Starring Palestinian actor Adam Bakri (“Omar,” “Official Secrets”) as the missing woman’s conflicted brother, and leading Aussie performer Rachael Blake as a troubled cop, Opening [...]

  • Igo Kantor

    Igo Kantor, Producer and Post-Production Executive, Dies at 89

    Igo Kantor, whose Hollywood career took him from Howard Hughes’ projection room to supervising post-production on “Easy Rider” and producing B-movies like “Kingdom of the Spiders” and “Mutant,” died Oct. 15. He was 89. Kantor, who was born in Vienna and raised in Lisbon, met “Dillinger” director Max Nosseck on the ship to New York. [...]

  • The Lion King

    Average Movie Ticket Price Falls 4% in Third Quarter of 2019

    Average ticket prices for the third quarter have dropped 4% to $8.93, down from Q2’s $9.26, the National Association of Theatre Owners announced today. However, compared with the third quarter of 2018, ticket price has risen 1.1% from $8.83. The summer box office is down 2.13% from 2018, though the third quarter box office is [...]

  • Tilda Swinton to Preside Over The

    Tilda Swinton to Preside Over Marrakech Film Festival

    Tilda Swinton, the iconoclastic British actress and producer, is set to preside over the 18th edition of the Marrakech International Film Festival, succeeding to American director James Gray. Swinton, who won an Oscar and a BAFTA award for best supporting actress for “Michael Clayton,” has been leading an eclectic acting career. She has collaborated with [...]

  • The King Netflix

    Middleburg Film Festival Brings Hollywood to Virginia

    For the last seven years, audiences have flocked to the Middleburg Film Festival. Running October 17th – 21st, and situated in the wine-country hills of historic Middleburg, Virg., the festival usually highlights some of the year’s buzziest titles, and 2019 is no exception. “We’re a smaller festival with fewer overall screenings than other events, so we [...]

  • Kelly McCormick and David Leitch'Fast &

    'Wheelman' Director to Helm 'Versus' From David Leitch, Kelly McCormick (EXCLUSIVE)

    “Wheelman” director Jeremy Rush is in negotiations to helm the action movie “Versus,” with Kelly McCormick and David Leitch producing. Rush will direct the Universal movie from a script penned by “Three Musketeers” scribe Alex Litvak and “American Assassin” writer Mike Finch. Plot details are being kept under wraps, though it will follow the genre [...]

  • Taika Waititi Jojo Rabbit Premiere

    Why Director Taika Waititi Decided to Play Adolf Hitler in 'Jojo Rabbit'

    “Fox Searchlight blackmailed me into doing it,” Taika Waititi told Variety of playing Adolf Hilter in “Jojo Rabbit” at the film’s premiere at American Legion Post 43 on Tuesday night in Hollywood. Staying mum when asked which other actors had been on his wish list to play the role, Waititi explained why he eventually decided [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content