Has Sony’s publicity team hatched a new Cannes Film Festival marketing trend? Rather than wait for the event to begin, the folks behind The Angry Birds Movie are strategically aiming to get out in front of the media before heads turn towards the red carpet. The festival kicks off officially tomorrow evening with Woody Allen’s Café Society. Today, The Angry Birds Movie crew was in town, hosting a photo call and reception with key international talent. Over many years of Cannes, we can’t recall a pre-fest reception for a major studio movie.
In attendance today were producer John Cohen; and stars Josh Gad (well-known to animation fans for his turn as Olaf in Frozen); The Intouchables‘ Omar Sy, who voices Red in the French version; Maccio Capatonda, who is Red in Italy; Timur Rodriguez, Chuck’s voice in Russia; and Raya Abirached, who’s Matilda in the Middle East.
The promotional aim is clear, but the manner in which Sony went about it is Cannes-ily opportunistic. The idea is to fill a content opportunity for the world’s media and consumers. Journalists and photographers are routinely on the ground a few days before the curtain rises here and the glamorous gowns start to flow. But a question becomes how to illustrate those pieces? The answer this year, Sony would hope, is with snaps of characters costumed as Red, Chuck and more; as well as the various voices behind them, in a Riviera beach setting.
Cannes stunts can be expensive and some believe they don’t always bring the hoped for return; indeed they’ve been scaled back over the years. It’s not clear if this move comes more cheaply as it’s ahead of the official proceedings, but cost-savings wasn’t the goal. Sony isn’t stopping at the Majestic Pier — the Birds also adorn the top of the Carlton Hotel.
Today’s event, which featured talent and costumed characters on a floating barge off the Majestic Pier — and under sunny skies to boot — is also a stand-out for mobilizing a global team a day before international theatrical rollout of the film begins. There were about 30 photographers in attendance. Part of the push in Cannes to get those snaps out to the global press is to encourage potential moviegoers to catapult into theaters.
Sony’s President of Worldwide Marketing & Distribution, Josh Greenstein says, “The Cannes Film Festival is one of the most celebrated events in the world and is proven to be an incredible launching pad for films of all kind, especially animated family films.”
The Columbia Pictures/Rovio Animation/Sony Pictures Imageworks film is directed by Fergal Reilly and Clay Kaytis and releases in about 50 offshore territories this frame, beginning tomorrow in French speaking markets and adding the UK, Germany, Russia, Spain, Australia, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, the Middle East and others by the weekend’s end. Based on Rovio’s wildly popular mobile game franchise, the 3D animated comedy is set on an island populated entirely by happy, flightless birds — or almost entirely. In this paradise, Red (Jason Sudeikis) a bird with a temper problem, speedy Chuck (Gad), and the volatile Bomb (Danny McBride) have always been outsiders. But when the island is visited by mysterious green piggies, it’s up to these unlikely outcasts to figure out what the pigs are up to.
Awareness is at a high given the popularity of the franchise which has seen over 3B downloads since 2009. Not just for kids, a non-Sony industry exec said to me this week, “Hell, yeah, I’m going to see it.”
Craig Edwards contributed to this story