Sony Pictures Animation has yet to achieve the lofty status awarded to such animation studios as Pixar, Disney and Laika, but the studio does boast a handful of lucrative family-friendly properties to its name. Whereas Disney and Pixar are lauded for the consistent quality of their movies and Laika has earned its reputation by delivering one under-seen gem after another (see this year's Kubo and the Two Strings), Sony's output tends to skew more broadly in appeal, as evidenced by the popularity of The Smurfs, Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs and the Hotel Transylvania franchises. That's not, per se, a bad thing either, since the end result is that Sony's animation department has become known for serving up a different flavor of cartoon entertainment than what its competitors have to offer.
Whereas Sony is continuing the Hotel Transylvania series (with Hotel Transylvania 3 arriving in 2018) and hoping to launching some new properties over the next few years (see: Emoji Movie: Express Yourself), the studio is starting over from scratch on the Smurfs movies. The Smurfs and The Smurfs 2, released in 2011 and 2013 respectively, were both commercial successes but critical duds, suggesting that a reboot isn't a bad idea - since the demand is there for more of The Smurfs, but is starting to diminish due to the poor quality of their live-action/CGI films.
Enter next year's all-animated franchise reboot, Smurfs: The Lost Village. Sony only just released a poster for Smurfs: The Lost Village with the promise that the first trailer was right around the corner . A teaser for the film has now been released online and it will presumably also be attached to the animated film Storks, releasing in theaters this weekend (at the time of writing this). You can check out the Smurfs: The Lost Village teaser, above.
If the world of The Smurfs that is depicted in both the teaser and poster for The Lost Village is reminiscent of the bioluminescent alien flora and fauna from Pandora in Avatar, there's a good reason for that. Smurfs: The Lost Village director Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet), writing on the film's official production blog, describes the Forbidden Forest (glimpsed in the teaser) where the Smurfs travel in the film as being "equal parts Oz, Pandora and Wonderland" and filled with things like "Smurf-eating Flowers," like the one in the trailer.
The plot for The Lost Village is set in motion when Smurfette (Demi Lovato) follows a "mysterious creature" into the Forbidden Forest, with her brothers and the evil wizard Gargamel (Rainn Wilson) hot on her trail. It sounds like the script for Smurfs: The Lost Village - credited to such writers as Pamela Ribon (who also co-wrote this fall's Moana) and Stacey Harman (The Goldbergs) - will thus keep the movie more Smurfette-focused like The Smurfs 2 did before it. That's not a bad approach either, as it was the story threads involving the live-action characters and not The Smurfs that were the issue in both that film and The Smurfs (2011).
Seeing as the live-acton elements of the previous Smurfs films were also generally regarded as being both a cost-saving measure and an excuse to incorporate cheap pop culture-based humor into the mix, it's hard to imagine that Smurfs: The Lost Village won't automatically be a step up for the franchise by not including either of those elements. The decision to reboot the Smurfs movies could prove to be all the smarter a move to course-correct the franchise, as a result.
Smurfs: The Lost Village opens in U.S. theaters on April 7th, 2017.
Source: Sony Pictures Animation