‘Angry Birds’ sequel is (supposedly) happening

AnimationFix: Your regular round-up of the latest animation news, from HitFix reporter Emily Rome

Red and his fellow irate pals will fly again (or get slingshot again).

“We have started planning the sequel to The Angry Birds Movie,” said Kati Levoranta, Chief Executive at Rovio, the Finnish company that made the popular Angry Birds game and also produced The Angry Birds Movie that Sony”s Columbia Pictures released this May.

The Wall Street Journal reported Levoranta”s announcement of work on a sequel. A source with knowledge of Sony”s development slate tells HitFix that “this is premature.” There has been no official word from Sony about an Angry Birds Movie sequel yet.

In a year when animation is dominating the box office – three of the ten highest-grossing animated films of all time came out this year – The Angry Birds Movie hasn”t had the most impressive haul. It”s earned more than four times its production budget, so it”s been plenty profitable, along with the toy sales and returned attention to the Angry Birds game app that had declined in downloads (Rovio last year posted declining revenue for the third year in a row). But Angry Birds Movie“s $346 million worldwide is less than half of the box office earnings for The Secret Life of Pets, which already has a sequel release date set by Universal.

The conclusion of The Angry Birds Movie appeared to hint at a possible sequel focusing on The Blues (a set of bluebird triples from the game), which hatch toward the end of the feature.

More AnimationFix:

• Spider-Gwen webs her first screen appearance: This spidey sense-powered iteration of Gwen Stacy will make her screen debut in Marvel”s Ultimate Spider-Man, IGN revealed Wednesday. The character has become increasingly popular since the debut of the Spider-Gwen comic series last year (she even has a WeLoveFine jacket). Voicing the character is Dove Cameron, known for Disney Channel sitcom Liv and Maddie and playing the daughter of Maleficent in Descendants.

In the September 17 episode of USM (now being billed as Ultimate Spider-Man vs. the Sinister 6 for its fourth season), Spider-Gwen will make her first appearance. It“s the final episode in a four-episode arc called “Return to the Spider-Verse” when Peter Parker and Miles Morales again encounter a bunch of alternate reality Spideys.

Image credit: Disney XD

• Concept art for abandoned Superman short surfaces: We didn”t need X-ray vision into the depths of Warner Bros. to see this Superman that might have been. In 2013 WB Animation had explored creating an animated short film about the Man of Steel to air on Cartoon Network with Genndy Tartakovsky (Samurai Jack, Hotel Transylvania), but it never got made. The concept art showed up on what is apparently background artist Scott Willis” blog this week, where he wrote, “Genndy Tartakovsky, Justin Thompson, and I were very excited to do our take on an animated Superman, but unfortunately it was pulled from us just as we were starting.”

Sausage Party animators allegedly given insufficient overtime pay: Earlier this month, animators spoke out about getting denied overtime pay for their work on Seth Rogen”s Sausage Party. Now a complaint is being filed against Canadian animation company Nitrogen Studios by a Vancouver-based union, asking British Columbia”s Employment Standards Branch to investigate, THR reported this week.

• From Hawkeye to fox: Jeremy Renner will voice the lead character, Swifty, an arctic fox, in CG animated movie Arctic Justice: Thunder Squad. (How ridiculously fun is that title?) It”s a big new step for AIC Studios, as it”s the first family animation film from the Toronto-based studio, whose past projects have included 3D conversion and visual effects for films like Nicole Kidman thriller Before I Go to Sleep.

Renner”s casting was announced Wednesday. He joins the already-cast John Cleese, who is voicing the sinister Doc Walrus, “a blubbery evil genius who walks around on robotic legs.” AIC Studios is tackling a hot-button issue (no pun intended) head-on with the film, as the villainous Doc Walrus, according to the film”s synopsis, “hatches a secret plot to accelerate global warming and melt the arctic circle,” so he can “become be king of the world.” “Cause that”s logical.

• Stormtroopers get nightmares from the same animation as the rest of us: The Force Awakens actor John Boyega tweeted out that he”d wrapped work on the new adaptation of Watership Down and assured us that we were not alone in our terror of the dark and violent 1978 animated pic. Alongside Boyega in the voice cast of the Netflix-BBC series are fellow Brits James McAvoy, Ben Kingsley, and Nicholas Hoult.