On Screen China: Box Office Slump? Enter ‘Angry Birds’ Under Pressure

  • Past its prime, Sony’s video game movie will beat Captain America but end its run with only $50M
  • Disney’s Alice, opening next weekend, will pose a direct challenge to Angry Birds
  • CFI Score 5/10 — The movie will prove a litmus test for the nine planned Angry Birds theme parks


The world’s second largest film industry has been in something of a slump this week with total box office revenue from Wednesday and Thursday hitting new lows for 2016. The market will look to rebound with two imported releases this weekend — The Angry Birds Movie and The Divergent Series: Allegiant.

Captain America: Civil War’s nosedive following its $96 million debut has stabilized somewhat this week, but with daily grosses hovering around $2M, the superhero film’s recovery is too-little-too-late and it will essentially bow out of theaters next Friday when fellow Disney film Alice Through the Looking Glass opens.

Even with relatively weak competition this weekend, Civil War’s screen share will drop from 35% to just 13%, ceding many of its screens to Angry Birds and Allegiant.

The latest Marvel superhero film currently stands at RMB 1.084 billion ($165.6 million) through Thursday and is Disney’s third highest-grossing film in the territory behind Zootopia (RMB 1.53 billion) and Avengers: Age of Ultron (RMB 1.46 billion).

The Angry Birds Movie (愤怒的小鸟)
China Distribution: China Film Group Corporation (中国电影集团公司)
US Distribution: Columbia Pictures

CFI Score – 5/10

Sony Pictures gets in on the slew of recent day-and-date releases with Angry Birds, a big screen adaptation of Rovio Entertainment’s addictive cellphone game.

The Finnish developer launched the first Angry Birds game in 2009 and it quickly became a worldwide hit. In 2012, at the peak of its popularity, Angry Birds app downloads from China surpassed those in North America. As addiction to the franchise has worn off in subsequent years — Rovio was forced to dismiss more than one-third of its employees in 2014 and saw a 10% drop in revenue in 2015  — the company has shifted its attention East.

As early as 2012, Rovio publicly announced plans to open Angry Birds theme parks across China, in part to capitalize on the growing Chinese fan base, but also to combat counterfeit merchandise and IP infringement.

Four years later, an official Angry Birds theme park has yet to open in China, though the company intends to build nine  parks by 2018 (!) through a partnership with a local company.

Suffice it to say, popularity for the once red-hot franchise has dwindled in China and this weekend’s release of The Angry Birds Movie will be a good litmus test of the public’s remaining interest.

With $73 million of its own capital invested in the movie and sequels already in the pipeline, Rovio has a lot riding on the success of The Angry Birds Movie, but we just can’t see it breaking out in China since the franchise is way past its prime. The film could attract curious walkup business and families with young children based on its brand name alone, but the release of Disney’s Alice next Friday will further eat into Angry Birds‘ core audience.

CFI predicts Angry Birds will win the weekend over Captain America: Civil War, debuting between $25 million-$30 million and ending its run around $50 million.