Sherlock Gnomes, the sequel to the 2011 Elton John-produced film Gnomeo & Juliet, launches ultra-wide in the U.S. today with a theater count of 3,662. It’s the widest domestic animation release of 2018 so far.

Directed by John Stevenson (co-director of Kung Fu Panda), the film was animated by Mikros, predominantly out ouf their London studio. Mikros has also produced animation for Captain Underpants, The Little Prince, and the upcoming Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero.

Box Office Potential

Sherlock Gnomes didn’t hold Thursday night previews. Predictions for the film’s opening weekend gross hover around the $15 million mark. The original launched with $25.4 million on its way to a $100 million domestic gross (a$194 million global gross), a result that had as much to do with Disney’s marketing prowess as the film itself. (The sequel is a joint Paramount/MGM release.)

Critics’ Response

Critics aren’t being kind to the film, though that’s to be expected when adults are reviewing a picture aimed at the kiddie set. The film has a 19% positive critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes as of this writing.

Pete Hammond in Deadline says it’s a “largely flat sequel,” but on the upside, “blessed with a terrific returning voice cast to add much-needed spark, including James McAvoy and Emily Blunt back as Gnomeo and Juliet.”

The NY Times’ Ben Kenigsberg commented on Johnny Depp, who plays the titular character: “The biggest problem is that this universe seems limited in its possibilities — imagine Toy Story with basically one kind of toy. Robbing Mr. Depp of his indispensable physical presence only highlights the ceramic stiffness of the jokes.”

Michael Rechtshaffen in The Hollywood Reporter wrote, “As choreographed by Kung Fu Panda co-director John Stevenson in a screenplay credited to Ben Zazove, with another four writers receiving story credit, the gnomes possess all the sparkling personality and delightful individuality of paving stones.”

Said Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, “In Sherlock Gnomes, the director, John Stevenson , and the first-time screenwriter, Ben Zazove, seem to be casting about for something — anything! — to give their movie an identity, a hook beyond the noisy, frantic, and desperately tinny action on display…Yet apart from Chiwetel Ejiofor, who lends Dr. Watson a layered melancholy, the actors give little life to the proceedings, since no one’s bothered to figure what this movie has to offer beyond terrifically tactile stone figures going through the motions of what might be called Generic Animated Action Rescue Plot, with chase scenes set to ‘The Bitch Is Back,’ ‘Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,’ and (during a ride on sewer rapids) ‘I’m Still Standing.'”

The Wrap’s William Bibbiani, who wrote among the handful of positive reviews, damns the film with faint praise: “Gnomeo and Juliet wasn’t particularly awful, but if it were a meal, it would be Wonder Bread toast with nothing on it. Sherlock Gnomes doesn’t have much more nutritional value, but at least it slaps some peanut butter on this franchise to give kids at least something to chew on.”

Release Dates

Sherlock Gnomes launched in third place in Russia last week with $1.4 million. It launches this weekend in the United States, as well as Canada, Brazil, Philippines, Indonesia, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Portugal, Urugay, and Vietnam, among other countries. Other significant releases to come are Australia (March 29), France (April 11), and U.K. (May 11).

Key Credits

Production companies: Paramount Animation, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, Rocket Pictures
Distributor: Paramount
Animation studio: Mikros Image Animation (London)
Cast: James McAvoy, Emily Blunt, Johnny Depp, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Michael Caine, Maggie Smith, Mary J. Blige, Stephen Merchant
Director: John Stevenson
Screenwriter: Ben Zazove
Producers: Steve Hamilton Shaw, David Furnish, Carolyn Soper
Executive producer: Elton John
Animation director: Eric Leighton
Production designer: Karen deJong
Editors: Prakash Patel, Mark Solomon
Composer: Chris Bacon

Amid Amidi

Amid Amidi is Cartoon Brew's Publisher and Editor-at-large.