Sony were one of a number of film distributors to put their technological capabilities to the test with the founding of an animation division in the 2000s – see Fox’s adoption of Blue Sky Studios and Universal’s creation of Illumination Entertainment to name but two more. The new division, aptly named Sony Pictures Animation, debuted in 2006 with the star-studded Open Season and has gone on to release a further twenty-three animated feature releases in the years that have followed.
Though at times critically divisive, Sony Pictures Animation’s films have regularly been box office hits, and can even claim to be Oscar-winning, 2018 film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse earning the Best Animated Feature Oscar in 2019.
In this edition of Ranked, we at The Film Magazine are re-evaluating every Sony Pictures Animation feature release, judging each based on their qualities as individual pieces of art, places in our wider pop culture, their impact on animated film, and their popular appeal. These are the Sony Pictures Animation Movies Ranked.
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24. The Emoji Movie (2017)
Worldwide Box Office: $217.8million
Starring: T.J. Miller, James Corden, Patrick Stewart, Maya Rudolph, Anna Faris, Sofia Vergara, Christina Aguilera
Bland and uninspired, Sony Pictures Animation reached the bottom of the barrel with their 2017 shallow trend-following adAPPtation The Emoji Movie, and were rightly given the critical boot.
The height of emoji-culture was already over by the time this film came out. And, despite a great and varied voice cast, the contents of The Emoji Movie were so insipid that it even lacked that all-too-familiar quality: being so bad it’s good.
23. Hotel Transylvania: Transformania (2022)
The fourth instalment in the widely popular box office franchise Hotel Transylvania wasn’t up to the standards of the previous three films, and perhaps that’s why it ended up going directly to Amazon Prime Video rather than finding a home on the big screen.
Transformania was, effectively, the Sony Pictures Animation equivalent of the straight-to-video releases Disney’s B-Team animation house used to produce in the 1990s: all the logos and designs of the widely successful thing we liked, only made for a fraction of the cost and thus featuring a fraction of the detail.
Dracula himself, Adam Sandler, didn’t even return to his leading role for this one (they replaced him with a voice-alike), which says it all.
Recommended for you: Blue Sky Studios Animated Movies Ranked
22. The Smurfs (2011)
Worldwide Box Office: $563.8million
Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Anton Yelchin
Often, you’ll read that poor animated films “aimed too young”, and that is certainly a criticism to be levied at this ill-conceived studio animation adaptation of the popular 1980s Smurfs cartoon.
The Smurfs (2011) committed the cardinal sin of rewriting the lore of its universe, and perhaps worse seemed absent of all that made the original cartoon so beloved: witty comedy, educational messages regarding community, and heart.
At least this particular franchise got better from here on out.
Recommended for you: Warner Animation Group Movies Ranked
21. The Smurfs 2 (2013)
Worldwide Box Office: $347.5million
Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Jayma Mays, Anton Yelchin
It’s not good, but it did at least patch up some of the issues of the original The Smurfs movie, albeit through reverting to the most simplistic and derivative of creative choices.
The Smurfs 2 was a film Sony Pictures Animation seemed to stuff with as many things as possible in the hope that at least some of them might land, and yet it never quite got to shake the image of being a plasticised, cheap and uncaring knock-off of a once better intellectual property.