Angry Birds and 'Rio': Birds of a feather flock together
20th Century Fox struck a deal to bring the domesticated macaw and other feathered characters from its forthcoming big-screen animated film, "Rio," to one of the most popular mobile game applications for the small screen, Angry Birds.
The Finnish creators of Angry Birds will release a version of the game -- Angry Birds Rio -- to coincide with the film's March 22 world premiere in Rio. The movie opens in theaters April 15.
On Friday, Fox Filmed Entertainment co-Chairman Jim Gianopulos announced the partnership with game developer Rovio in a press event on the Fox studio lot in Century City under a tent with giant beach balls. The studio also screened 26 minutes of footage, introduced by director Carlos Saldanha and voice stars Jamie Foxx, Anne Hathaway and George Lopez.
Fox hopes to tap into the pop-culture phenomenon that is Angry Birds (downloaded some 75 million times and counting) to build awareness for its latest animated project from Blue Sky Studios, creators of the "Ice Age" blockbusters.
Rovio, meanwhile, gets to introduce a new version of the game (using Blue Sky's intellectual property), and capitalize on the marketing blitz that is planned for the theatrical release.
"It's about taking that traditional entertainment experience -- whether in theaters or on the TV screen -- and creating a new level of engagement," said Peter Levinsohn, president of new media and digital distribution for 20th Century Fox.
Levinsohn's group has been been working to find logical digital extensions of Fox's entertainment properties. For example, it created a "Glee" karaoke app that lets Gleeks sing along with songs from the popular Fox TV show, or connect with other Glee fans online for a virtual recording session.
-- Dawn C. Chmielewski
Photo: "Rio" voice actors Jamie Foxx, left, and George Lopez at Friday's press event for the animated film. Credit: Alex J. Berliner.