‘Angry Birds Movie 2’ Brings New Characters to the Game-Based Universe

Turning an online game into a movie has its challenges, but it also provides some room for creativity, said executives who have worked on the films based on the iconic web product Angry Birds.

“When you have a project based on a book or comic book series, so much of that has been defined,” said producer John Cohen. “Everything is set in a mythology, and you’re translating it  into a movie and trying very hard not to veer from what’s already been created. But with Angry Birds we’ve had this amazing opportunity where not a lot had been defined.”

Cohen and co-director Johnny Rice attended a special event for the home entertainment launch of The Angry Birds Movie 2 Nov. 9 at the Los Angeles Zoo. The sequel was available Oct. 29 on digital and debuted Nov. 12 on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

Joining the returning cast, which includes Jason Sudeikis, Josh Gad, Bill Hader, Danny McBride and Peter Dinklage, are Leslie Jones (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), Rachel Bloom (TV’s “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”), Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians), Sterling K. Brown (TV’s “This Is Us”) and Eugenio Derbez (Dora and the Lost City of Gold).

In the sequel, a new threat emerges that puts both Bird and Pig Island in danger. Red (Sudeikis), Chuck (Gad), Bomb (McBride) and Mighty Eagle (Dinklage) recruit Chuck’s sister Silver (Bloom) and team up with pigs Leonard (Hader), his assistant Courtney (Awkwafina), and techpig Garry (Sterling K. Brown) to forge an unsteady truce and form an unlikely team to save their homes. Jones stars as Zeta, a new villain threatening the islands.

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“We’ve got a lot of new characters; of course, the Leslie Jones Zeta character is a big new character,” said Rice. “She’s bigger than life in every way. Leslie brought a voice to the character that is just incredible. She really stands out in the movie as a huge force. And it’s kind of interesting as that’s the way our story works as well. She’s a force that comes into the world, into the birds’ world and the pigs’ world that just changes everything.”

“Our other big new character is Silver, voiced by Rachel bloom, and Silver is actually Chuck’s sister,” added Cohen. “Chuck, the Josh Gad character, is the bird who moves very fast. Everything about him is quick. He talks fast. He moves fast. And we started to ask ourselves, well, if he had a sister who shares the DNA, what would she be like? Silver’s superpower is that she thinks fast. And so she is hypersmart and is an engineering major at Avian Academy, which is the college on Bird Island. And when the birds and pigs come together in the movie and have to team up to fight these mortal enemies and for the very first time have to work together, Silver ends up as the leader of the group because she’s just the smartest and kind of the best people person.”

Co-director/animator Johnny Rice drew the character Red at a Nov. 9 event for The Angry Birds Movie 2 at the Los Angeles Zoo.

Because the animators are filling out the online game, “we bring our own experiences, our own life experience and attitudes into it,” said Rice. “I really connected with Red on the first one and in the second one as well, where I felt like I totally understood who he was. And the voice actors add a lot to that of course.”

Animators use the performances of the accomplished comedians who play the characters to inform the animation.

“Their comedic sensibility and their ad-libs and improvisation do so much to bring that character to life in a way that you couldn’t have even imagined,” Cohen said.

“The animators pay a lot of attention to every nuance in the voice,” Rice said.

“We film the actors to see their mannerisms. Even an eye movement or just a gesture can inform the animation of the character,” Cohen added.

The actors often recognize themselves in the animated pigs and birds that end up in the movie, Cohen said.

Bonus features on the sequel disc include a new mini movie “Live Stream,” DIY activities inspired by the film, behind-the-scenes featurettes with cast and crew, a feature on the birds at the L.A. Zoo, and six Hatchling shorts directed by Rice.

The baby bird Hatchling characters are played by children, rather than adults using child-like voices, which brings an authentic humor to the characters, said Rice and Cohen. The child actors are encouraged to be themselves, which provides for some surprising humor.

“They do the funniest things,” Rice said.

“It’s not ad-libbing in the traditional sense,” Cohen said. “It’s more just the weird things and the surprising things that kids might say and the way in which they would say them. We love to capture real kids’ voices and that’s what’s given the Hatchlings so much charm.”

The Hatchlings in Angry Birds 2 are played by Alma Versano, daughter of Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman); Genesis Tennon, daughter of actress Viola Davis; Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project); Jojo Siwa (TV’s “Dance Moms”); and Sunday and Faith, daughters of Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban.

“Most of them it was their first time ever acting, and they were really, really fantastic,” Cohen said.

‘The Swan Princess’ Swims to Blu-ray and 4K Digital Oct. 29 for 25th Anniversary

The animated film The Swan Princess will be released Oct. 29 in a collectible anniversary edition Blu-ray and in 4K HDR on digital from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment for its 25th anniversary.

One of the last major theatrically-released films in the U.S. to utilize a hand drawn, hand painted cel animation style, the film went on to receive a 1995 Golden Globe nomination and become the top selling home video title in the United States when first released.

To celebrate the new release, creator and producer Seldon Young is bringing the film back to the big screen for a special Pink Carpet Premiere event showcasing the new, fully remastered version at the ArcLight Cinemas in Hollywood Oct. 24.

“For the restoration and remastering process we retrieved the vintage, vaulted negatives and set to work using the amazing advances in HD conversion technology, to create an even more vivid and stunning film than ever before,” said Young in a statement.

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The story is inspired by the German fairytale and ballet about a princess who is swan by day and princess by night. Princess Odette is transformed into a swan by an evil sorcerer’s spell. Held captive at an enchanted lake, she befriends Jean-Bob the frog, Speed the turtle and Puffin the bird. Despite their struggle to keep the princess safe, these good-natured creatures can do nothing about the sorcerer’s spell, which can only be broken by a vow of everlasting love.

The Blu-ray release includes a new featurette entitled “A Look Back, Tease Ahead,” plus a variety of additional archival features.

‘The Secret Life of Pets 2’ Coming to Digital Aug. 13, Disc Aug. 27 From Universal

The family film The Secret Life of Pets 2 will debut on digital Aug. 13 and 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 27 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

From the studio Illumination (Despicable Me, Minions, Sing), the animated sequel features the pets and their growing families in a new chapter that explores the deep bond between them and the humans that love them. Again, the film answers the question: What are your pets really doing when you’re not at home? Terrier Max (voice of Patton Oswalt) is coping with major life changes after Katie’s marriage and the arrival of a toddler, Liam. Meanwhile, Gidget (Jenny Slate) tries to rescue Max’s favorite toy from a cat-packed apartment with a little help from her feline friend Chloe (Lake Bell), who has discovered the joys of catnip. And Snowball (Kevin Hart) believes, despite the other pets’ teasing, that he’s a superhero after his owner starts dressing him in superhero pajamas. But when Daisy (Tiffany Haddish), a fearless Shih Tzu, shows up to ask for Snowball’s help on a dangerous mission, he has to summon the courage to become the hero he’s been pretending to be.

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Other voice talent includes Eric Stonestreet, Nick Kroll, Dana Carvey, Ellie Kemper, Hannibal Buress, Bobby Moynihan and Harrison Ford in his first ever role in an animated film as new farm dog, Rooster.

Bonus features on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, DVD and digital include two mini-movies — Super Gidget, featuring the film’s Pomeranian Gidget and her best friend Max, and Minion Scouts, starring the Minions. Also included are deleted scenes, making-of featurettes and drawing tutorials. An interactive Captain Snowball motion comic allowing viewers to direct the bunny hero on his next move is exclusive to the 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray versions.

‘A Dog’s Journey’ to Be Fetched on Digital Aug. 6, Disc Aug. 20 From Universal

A sequel to A Dog’s Purpose, A Dog’s Journey will come out on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Aug. 6 and Blu-ray, DVD and on demand Aug. 20 from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.

Directed by Emmy winner Gail Mancuso (“Modern Family”), the film continues the tale of lovable farm dog Bailey, as he finds a new destiny, forms an unbreakable bond and learns that some friendships transcend lifetimes. Bailey (voiced again by Josh Gad; Beauty and the BeastFrozen) is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his former “boy” now grown to manhood, Ethan (Dennis Quaid; A Dog’s Purpose, I Can Only Imagine) and Ethan’s wife Hannah (Marg Helgenberger; “C.S.I.,” “Under the Dome”). He has a new playmate, Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter, C.J. (Kathryn Prescott; “24: Legacy”). Everything is great on the farm until C.J.’s mom, Gloria (Betty Gilpin, Isn’t It Romantic, “GLOW”), decides to take C.J. away and chase her own fulfillment in the big city. Ethan asks Bailey to watch over C.J. wherever she goes and thus begins Bailey’s adventure through multiple lives as he, C.J., and C.J.’s best friend Trent experience joy and heartbreak, music and laughter.

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A Dog’s Journey features more than 30 minutes of bonus content including deleted and extended scenes, a gag reel, featurettes with the cast and composer, and a behind-the-scenes look at the animal performances. The release also includes feature commentary by Mancuso.

Animated ‘Wonder Park’ Rides to Digital June 4, Disc June 18 From Paramount

The animated adventure Wonder Park will be released on digital June 4 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD June 18 from Paramount Home Entertainment.

It’s the story of a young girl named June who makes an incredible discovery — the amusement park of her dreams has come to life filled with wild rides operated by fun-loving animals. When trouble hits, June and her misfit team of furry friends begin an unforgettable journey to save the park. Wonder Park features the voices of Jennifer Garner, Mila Kunis, John Oliver, Kenan Thompson and Ken Jeong, among others.

The film made $45.2 million at the box office.

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The Blu-ray combo pack includes access to a digital copy as well as bonus content, including the deleted scene “Gus Yodeling”; “The Wonder Chimp Channel”; “The Pi Song Sing-Along”; “Making Noises (It’s Actually a Job?!!)”; “June’s Guide to Wonderland”; “June’s Welcoming Crew”; “Boardwalk Caricatures”; “Drawing Boomer”; “Drawing the Wonder Chimp Pirate”; and “Drawing the Wonder Chimp Princess.”

‘A Dog’s Way Home’ Travels to Digital March 26, Disc April 9 From Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

A Dog’s Way Home will find its way to digital March 26 and Blu-ray combo pack and DVD April 9 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film earned $41.1 million in theaters.

Based on the bestselling novel by W. Bruce Cameron, the film chronicles the adventures of Bella, a dog who embarks on a 400-mile journey home after she is separated from her human, Lucas.

A Dog’s Way Home stars Ashley Judd, Jonah Hauer-King (Old Boys), Edward James Olmos, Alexandra Shipp (Love, Simon) and Wes Studi (Hostiles ) with Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) providing the voice of Bella.

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Special features include a guide to creating dog treats at home; deleted scenes; interviews with novelist W. Bruce Cameron, director Charles Martin Smith, and cast and crew; and a look at the film’s canine star Bella’s rags to riches journey from the shelter to the big screen.

‘Bernie the Dolphin’ Swims to DVD and Digital Feb. 5 From Lionsgate

The family adventure Bernie the Dolphin arrives on DVD and digital Feb. 5 from Lionsgate.

Lola Sultan and Kevin Sorbo star in the story of two siblings who befriend a dolphin, Bernie, and devise a plan to save the beach and protect sea life. Also starring Patrick Muldoon and Logan Allen, the film is approved by the Dove Foundation for all ages.

The DVD ( $14.98) includes a behind-the-scenes featurette.

The film is currently available on demand.

Roy Rogers Westerns, Faith-Based Documentaries and Dramas Among Titles on the March Disc Slate From Mill Creek

There’s something for every taste — Westerns, documentaries, and drama, family and action films — on the March disc release slate from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Coming on DVD March 5 is the drama If You’re Gone. When high school senior Brad Lee disappears the night of his graduation ceremony, his girlfriend is forced to question everything she thought she knew about him and their relationship, as well as her own faith, in hopes of finding him. The film stars Brittany Goodwin, Masey McLain, Desiree Ross and Ben Davies.

The Last Appeal, due on DVD March 5, is a faith-based drama set in the world of death row, where prisoners face legal battles, family struggles and mortality. Titus Freeman enters this daunting world determined to work the legal system to escape his sentence but discovers a new life beyond the grave. Meanwhile, his victim’s wife Trisha works the legal system to enforce his execution.

In the action film To Be a Soldier, also on DVD March 5, the sister of a mild-mannered British salesman goes missing in the Middle East, and he recruits an ex-Army ranger to help him rescue her. As they trek through the war-torn wilderness, they battle terrorists, the elements and their own dark human natures.

For the family audience March 5 is the DVD Guard Dog. Chance Watson is a lying, cheating, stealing 9-year-old who is flunking out of school. Then, one night, a magical sheepdog appears and promises to make his dreams come true, if he can follow “The Rules.” Soon, with the help of his talking, sometimes invisible dog, Chance has changed his life and the lives of many of the students at his school.

On tap March 12 are three Western collections on disc and digital.

Roy Rogers — The Happy Trails Collection, on DVD and digital, features 20 movies and is authorized by the Roy Rogers Estate. Each movie is introduced by Roy and Dale Evans in a special feature, “Happy Trails Theater.” They are joined by a host Western stars, including Gene Autry, Iron Eyes Cody, Pat Brady, Ruth Terry, Roy “Dusty” Rogers Jr. and Pat Butram.

The four-film Outlaws and Con Men collection, in DVD and digital, features Django Shoots First, starring Glenn Saxson, Fernando Sancho and Evelyn Stewart; Django’s Cut Price Corpses, with Jeff Cameron, John Desmont and Esmeralda Barros; Bad Man’s River, starring Lee Van Cleef, James Mason and Gina Lollobrigidal; and Sting of the West, with Jack Palance and Giancarlo Prete

On Blu-ray and digital March 12 is the Westerm double feature Fort Yuma Gold/Damned Hot Day of Fire. In Fort Yuma Gold, after the end of the Civil War, the fanatic Southern Major Sanders continues to fight and plans to attack Fort Yuma, home to a gold reserve. A captured Confederate soldier agrees to lead Union solders to stop Sanders, but their real mission and the charms of the beautiful Connie Breastfull complicate the situation. In Damned Hot Day of Fire, the creator of the Gatling gun, which his famous invention, has been kidnapped and is being held from the Union for a million dollar ransom. Captain Chris Tanner must find and stop the villainous Tarpas before he falls into the hands of the Confederates.

Also due March 12 is the drama Unbridled on DVD and digital. Sarah thinks she is beyond redemption and unworthy of love and is sent away from the house that defined her horrors to a place where she is not the only victim, or the only one fighting to get her life back, a ranch called Unbridled. At Unbridled, Sarah meets Dreamer, a horse who has also suffered abuse, a horse who no longer trusts humans — until he meets Sarah.

The drama double feature Footprints/Friends for Live is coming March 12 on Blu-ray, DVD and digital (combo). Footprints is based on the true story of a man who finds the healing power of love only after he loses everything, a dog who learns to trust and serve after being abused and discarded, and a journey the two of them take. In Friends for Life, big city attorney Jim Crawford had won most of the battles in his life, but he couldn’t win the battle against his wife’s illness. An unexpected twist of fate leads Jim to discover four orphaned wolf pups who face certain death unless he takes them in.

Finally, March 12 come two faith documentaries.

Ancient Secrets of the Bible — The Complete Series is coming on DVD and digital. The 39-episode series, shot on location in five countries and in more than 80 U.S. cities, features re-creations, expert testimony, biblical evidence and scientific experiments to explore biblical questions such as, “Did Adam and Eve really exist and where was the Garden of Eden?”.

Also coming on DVD and digital March 12 is Miracles — The Power of Faith, a four-part documentary series that explores and investigates miracles through interviews with theologians, historians, experts, witnesses, and visits to the locations where it is believed some of the most beautiful and profound miracles occurred.

‘Goosebumps 2’ Coming to Digital Dec. 25, Disc Jan. 15 From Sony

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will scare up the family comedy Goosebumps 2 on digital (including Movies Anywhere) Dec. 25 and Blu-ray and DVD Jan. 15.

Slappy, the devious ventriloquist dummy, returns to run amuck in this second installment of the film franchise based on R.L. Stine’s book series. The film stars Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs”), Madison Iseman (Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle), Jeremy Ray Taylor (It), Caleel Harris (“Castle Rock”), Chris Parnell (“Rick and Morty”) and Ken Jeong (Crazy Rich Asians).

Bonus features on disc and digital include a gag reel, three deleted scenes, three sing-alongs and five featurettes: “Thrills & Chills — The Making of Goosebumps 2”; “Meet the Monsters,” which shows viewers how the creatures were brought to life; “Slappy’s Audition,” in which Slappy auditions for the role he was born to play; “Science with Slappy,” in which the film’s stars join Slappy for electrifying experiments; and “Junk Brothers — Call Now.”