Sony Animation Sets Slate: 'Smurfs', 'Transylvania 2,' More (Exclusive)

Concept art for "Can You Imagine?"
Concept art for "Can You Imagine?"
 Courtesy of SPA

This story first appeared in the March 21-28 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.

Not content to let Disney Animation or DreamWorks Animation hog the spotlight, Sony Pictures Animation is ready to make some waves of its own as it ramps up a trio of projects it will release in the next two or three years.

SPA is betting big on Genndy Tartakovsky, the popular animator behind Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and Star Wars: The Clone Wars, who is working on two of the three projects.

Tartakovsky, who already directed Hotel Transylvania and is deep into Popeye for the company, is continuing his relationship with SPA by not only signing on to direct Hotel Transylvania 2 but by also developing a new original creation tentatively called Genndy Tartakovsky’s Can You Imagine?

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The plot is being kept deep in the recesses of the mind, but it is described as a fantastic journey through one boy’s imagination. Michelle Murdocca, who produced Hotel Transylvania, is producing Can You Imagine?, which Tartakovsky is writing and will direct.

“When he comes up with a great idea, of course you want to listen to it,” says Bob Osher, the president of Sony Pictures Digital Productions who initially brought Tartakovsky to work on the first Hotel Transylvania.

Tartakovsky is working on Can You Imagine? as he tackles directing duties on Hotel Transylvania 2, which is being written by Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel and has a release date of Sept. 25, 2015.

All this while still working on the company’s Popeye, which is in production for a release sometime in 2016. Osher believes that Tartakovsky’s past in television prepared the animator to juggle a film workload: “In the world of television, they work on multiple episodes simultaneously while also keeping an eye on an entire season. He’s used to, and likes, a high level of workload.”

SPA also is developing a new, all-animated Smurfs movie and recently tapped as director Kelly Asbury, the animation vet who was nominated for the Cannes Film Festival’s Palme d’Or for Shrek 2 and most recently directed the hit animated comedy Gnomeo & Juliet.

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SPA and Sony division Columbia are coming off of two successful Smurfs movies that were made as live-action/animated hybrids (the two together grossed around $910 million worldwide) but this new animated-only feature is aimed to bring the designs and environments more in line to the original art by Smurfs creator Peyo.

The plot is being kept under wraps, but the movie aims to explore the origin of the internationally loved blue creatures.

The movie, which will be produced by Jordan Kerner and co-produced by Mary Ellen Bauder, already has a release date of Aug. 14, 2015.

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