Sony Pictures Animation has made a couple of announcements regarding its release slate. First up, the studio has hired Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet) to direct a new, fully animated reboot of its Smurfs franchise. The untitled film is not a continuation of its existing live-action/CG hybrid franchise, and instead is an entirely animated feature that will be stylistically closer to the original Smurfs artwork created by Peyo. The pic is described as an origin story that explores “the beginnings of the beloved little blue creatures” and is slated for an August 2015 release.
Additionally, Hotel Transylvania director Genndy Tartakovsky will helm the original animated feature Can You Imagine?. Plot details are thin, but the film is described as “a fantastic journey through one boy’s imagination.” Tartakovsky is also attached to direct Hotel Transylvania 2 for a September 2015 release and is developing an all-CG Popeye film for the studio as well. Read the full press release after the jump.
Culver City, CA, March 11, 2014 – Sony Pictures Animation today gave an update on their lineup of upcoming projects—which includes the animated motion picture debut of a classic comic strip figure, an original tale from one of the form’s most multi-faceted filmmakers, as well as the continued expansion of two of the studio’s most popular worlds.
Bob Osher, President of Sony Pictures Digital Productions, states, “I am really excited by the variety of our upcoming projects as well as the amazing talent working on them.”
· Sony Pictures Animation has hired animation industry veteran Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet) to direct an all new, fully computer-animated film featuring the world’s most popular blue creatures. The family adventure, currently going by the working title The Untitled Smurfs Movie, is anticipated in theaters August 2015. Jordan Kerner (The Smurfs) is producing, with Mary Ellen Bauder (Hotel Transylvania) co-producing. The original two live action/CG hybrid Smurfs movies from Sony Pictures Animation grossed a combined $910 million worldwide.
· Genndy Tartakovsky will return to the director’s chair for Hotel Transylvania 2, , scheduled for September 2015, which will bring back Adam Sandler’s Dracula. Sandler and Robert Smigel are taking on writing duties for the comedy.
· The über prolific Genndy Tartakovsky is also busy working an all-new CG take on the comic strip hero, Popeye, all the while developing an original idea for Sony Pictures Animation titled Genndy Tartakovsky’s Can You Imagine?, described as a fantastic journey through one boy’s imagination. Producer Michelle Murdocca will once again work closely with Tartakovsky.
Kelly Asbury, who was nominated for the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or for Shrek 2, offers, “I’m really excited about taking the Smurfs in a completely new fresh direction. We’re not making a Smurfs 3 film. Our character designs and environments will be stylistically closer to the original artwork created by Peyo. Our story will explore the beginnings of the beloved little blue creatures in a fun full CG animated comedy-adventure for every generation to enjoy.”
13-time Emmy Award nominee Tartakovsky himself says, “It’s good to be back at the Hotel Transylvania, and I’m very excited to work on Popeye, a character that I’ve loved since I was a kid. I’m also looking forward to developing an entirely new and original animated feature here at Sony Pictures Animation. This is an exciting time for me and for the studio.”
Michelle Raimo Kouyate, the President of Production for Sony Pictures Animation, is working closely with filmmakers on those projects while overseeing an extensive development slate for the animation studio. Imagery and animation on all Sony Pictures Animation films will be provided by Sony Pictures Imageworks.