Riding the surprise success of its live-action, animated feature “The Smurfs,” Sony Pictures recently announced a sequel. Tentatively titled “Smurfs 2,” the film is scheduled for release August 2, 2013 and will be produced by Jordan Kerner, producer of the first film. Kerner is the only name so far attached, with no word on the sequel’s voice cast or live-action stars.
Made for around $110 million, “Smurfs” has so far grossed $135 million worldwide. In its domestic opening weekend two weeks ago, “Smurfs” made over $35 million, losing only narrowly to the flashier, costlier, more star-powered “Cowboys & Aliens.”
Although “Smurfs” boasts a talented voice and live-action cast, including Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Fred Armisen, George Lopez, and Anton Yelchin—among others—critics haven’t been kind. It’s currently rated 23% positive at review aggregator rottentomatoes.com.
As is usually the case in Hollywood though, money talks, and a sequel to such an overachieving, family-friendly flick was virtually inevitable. I haven’t seen “Smurfs,” but the reviews leave me with no desire to. Admittedly, the film has a certain nostalgic appeal for a large segment of parents, many of whom grew up watching the original cartoon on Saturday-morning TV. Kids seem to respond well, too. According to The Wrap, in fact, 65% of the opening weekend audience included parents and their children.
Those numbers, combined with the film’s gross, were too much, apparently, for Sony executives to resist. The least we can hope for, I suppose, is a sequel that’s better than the original. Unusual, but hardly impossible considering the original’s poor critical response. So mark your calendars, August 2, 2013 just got smurfed.