This week my editor at ParentMap threw an assignment my way that I could not refuse--an interview with the John Cohen, the producer of The Angry Birds Movie. I know; totally cliche, but the association I make with birds and the chance to get it in print--even on a commercial scale--was too hard to pass up. Plus, being me, I was going to ask the guy about Rovio's (the Finnish media company behind the franchise) charitable giving when it comes to wild birds. Apparently there is a history of such a partnership lurking in Rovio's past.
After some back and forth emails with his publicist, Molly, we arranged a call with John. She connected me through to him driving (so Hollywood!), and what followed were (no surprise! It's a press junket!) upbeat but formulaic answers to my questions about the film's production history, message, choice of voice-over actors, and any special features the movie could claim over others in its niche.
Then, I asked my conservation question, referencing Rovio's earlier partnership with Bird Life International on behalf of tropical island bird conservation. John, ever the pro at his job, sidestepped the question and launched straight into the story of Angry Birds' teaming up with the United Nations for the International Day of Happiness. Huh? What does that have to do with birds? Well, turns out this year's theme was climate change, so not totally unrelated.
And, to be fair to poor John, how would he know about how Rovio partners with other organizations? He's a producer of animated children's comedies. I've got my agenda and he's got his.
But surely I am not the first person to think that NOT leveraging the Angry Birds franchise for bird conservation on a larger scale is a lost opportunity. The whole premise of the game is about thwarting the environmental destruction of invasive species...albeit with more destruction.
And there is even the foundation of that earlier partnership. I wonder why that didn't take off on a greater scale. Anyone know?
While we are pondering this, check out the interview with I did with John Cohen on ParentMap.