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April 2016

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ANIMATION 14 POST APRIL 2016 n 2009, Rovio Entertainment released Angry Birds, one of the best-selling apps of all time. The Angry Birds property rapidly expanded into entertainment, publishing, and licensing, becoming a beloved international brand. On May 20th, Rovio partners with Sony Pictures to release The Angry Birds Movie, a fully-CG, 3D-animated feature that cen- ters around the birds, slingshots, pigs and the attempt to get the birds' eggs back. The feature marks Rovio's first foray into films, though fans have been introduced to the animated Angry Birds world via the weekly Angry Birds Toons series. Recently, directors Clay Kaytis and Fergal Reilly took a break from the late stages of the film's post production to give Post an inside look at the feature and the challenges they faced in creat- ing a long-form, big-screen product. They are quick to point to the contributions of the talented cast, including Kate McKinnon (Stella), Peter Dinklage (Mighty Eagle), Jason Sudeikis (Red), Danny McBride (Bomb) and Maya Rudolph (Matilda), who lent both voice talent and comedic expertise. In addition, country star Blake Shelton gives voice to the cowboy pig, Earl. Angry Birds already exists in different forms, but the needs for a feature film must be pretty intense? Clay Kaytis: "You have to build it from the ground up. When you are not given anything, you have to create everything, espe- cially if you want to create a customized experience in terms of what it looks like. Every rock and leaf and feather — up to entire islands filled with civilizations of characters — had to be built from nothing." Fergal Reilly: "We built a studio from scratch as well. We had no base to start with and we just started building our team from scratch, making the movie, and creating the relationship with Sony Pictures Imageworks, who are the people who helped us make the movie in Vancouver." What is the relationship with Rovio and Sony? Kaytis: "Rovio is the company that made the game original- ly, and they are financing the entire production themselves. Honestly, it's an independent film, technically. Rovio [is driving]… the original story. Sony is the distribution and marketing partner, and within Sony there's Sony Pictures Imageworks — SPI. They are creating the visual assets and animation on the film. They animated Spiderman and The Day After Tomorrow, [and the] animated films Cloudy [With A Chance of Meatballs] and Hotel [Transylvania]. We work for Rovio." How do you translate a small-screen game to a theatrical experience? Reilly: "I think the basic premise of the game is the birds versus the pigs — and that's a real, primal conflict. With animated mov- ies it's often better to start with a simple premise, because you want to create great characters — great, entertaining, comedic characters — and you need a bit of room. If you have too much plot, it's hard to create the space for great, entertaining char- acters, so we saw that as a blessing rather than a curse. The fact that everybody has speculated about how do you create a movie from a video game app? It was a challenge, but it never really was a hurdle for us. It was something we were very used to doing in our own work before this — Clay at Disney, myself on all these other shows I have worked on. It was almost freeing in a way. We had such a basic premise and when we talked about the project in the beginning, we both thought, 'We are going to cre- ate a great movie that stands on its own terms.' There are icons in the game and a basic world in the game, but that's not what the movie is. So we have the freedom to create the mythology and the characters as we saw it from a comedic perspective." THE ANGRY BIRDS MOVIE BY MARC LOFTUS ROVIO'S BEST- SELLING APP SLINGSHOTS TO THE BIG SCREEN I

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