One thing that’s become evident. It’s hard to kill a Smurf. After a sequel that saw its business nosedive next to the original, Sony Pictures Animation is changing course and planning a new take on its Smurfs franchise, tapping Shrek 2 and Gnomeo & Juliet director Kelly Asbury to helm an all-animated film with new designs and environments that will focus on the origins of the annoying blue creatures. The new take will be closer to creator Peyo’s original artwork, and it has been targeted for the August 2015 release. They originally planned a straight trilogy, but apparently they will take a mulligan on a second film which contributed to all the heat Sony Pictures brass received from the likes of Daniel Loeb on a subpar 2013 returns.
The news comes as Sony Pictures’ animation arm provided updates on its slate, saying that Genndy Tartakovsky has officially signed to return to direct Hotel Transylvania 2, which is eyeing a September 2015 bow with star Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel writing. Tartakovsky also is developing Sony’s CG Popeye pic and his own original idea Genndy Tartakovsky’s Can You Imagine, described as a fantastic journey through one boy’s imagination.
Michelle Raimo Kouyate, SPA’s President of Production, is working with the filmmakers and oversees the development slate. Imagery and animation on all SPA films comes via Sony Pictures Imageworks. SPA’s 2013 releases included Smurfs 2 and Cloudy With A Chance Of Meatballs 2.