The all-CG Smurfs reboot won’t be released until 2016, but you wouldn’t know that from the aggressive manner in which Sony Pictures Animation is promoting the film. It’s a curious tactic, especially considering that Hotel Transylvania 2 will come out a year before it, and that’s not being promoted nearly as extensively. But after Sony’s creatively disastrous CGI/live-action hybrid Smurfs films, they aren’t taking any chances and seem to be trying to distance the reboot from the earlier versions.

Sony’s early Smurfs promotional efforts include a “movie director’s blog” by the film’s director Kelly Asbury (Shrek 2, Gnomeo & Juliet), who is touting the authenticity of the current project by documenting his visit with the daughter of Smurfs creator Peyo. Asbury also attended the Annecy festival last month to introduce the film to French audiences who are much more aware of and sensitive toward the characters’ legacies than Americans.

Last month Sony also began posting video profiles of the artists who are working on the film. To further push the European connection, the first profile centered around Patrick Mate, a French-born DreamWorks Animation veteran who has joined the Sony crew as a character designer and “Smurf specialist.”

If you’re interested in seeing more of Mate’s art, he has a blog with an extensive selection of his personal artwork. I was pleased to feature a couple of his paintings in the last issue of my zine Animation Blast.

John Lasseter and Hayao Miyazaki.
Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg, David Geffen.