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. The new division, aptly named Sony Pictures Animation, debuted in 2006 with the star-studded but critically unpopular Open Season and has gone on to release a further fourteen animated feature releases in the years that have followed, earning upwards of $4.7billion at the worldwide box office and earning a Best Animated Feature Oscar for their 2018 release Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
In this edition of Ranked, we’re looking at the very best and worst of the animated feature releases Sony Pictures Animation have distributed and we’re ranking them based on quality as pieces of art while considering cultural impact and popular appeal.
Have an opinion? Make sure to let us know about it in the comments!
19. 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
Described by Jacob Davis in his review for The Film Magazine as “bland, plain and simple”, Sony Pictures Animation reached the bottom of the barrel with their 2017 adAPPtation The Emoji Movie. Even as a So Bad It’s Good watch, The Emoji Movie didn’t work, offering nothing entertainingly bad enough to even satisfy that particular need. Jacob was right, “there’s nothing enjoyable about it”.
18. The Smurfs (2011)
Worldwide Box Office: $563.8million
Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Anton Yelchin
Sony Pictures Animation smushed this poorly thought out Smurfs IP reboot into the same year as the infinitely better Arthur Christmas probably to appease shareholders at Sony who would have certainly been disappointed by what they offered.
The Smurfs is child-friendly fun, sure, but it not only loses all of the heart of the original cartoons, but it also rewrites some of the lore, adds unnecesarily adult nods and winks, and is so bad that it’s a stain on the company as a whole. Why they chose to chase after an audience with further Smurfs releases is unknown, but at least they got better from here on out.
17. The Smurfs 2 (2013)
Worldwide Box Office: $347.5million
Starring: Hank Azaria, Neil Patrick Harris, Katy Perry, Jayma Mays, Anton Yelchin
With The Smurfs 2, Sony Pictures Animation were able to illustrate how they’d learned from some of the lessons of the first movie by making something without the glaring issues of their 2011 release. Unfortunately, this meant buckling down on the most inoffensive and bland aspects of the original that they could imagine, The Smurfs 2 being the Coldplay of the studio’s filmography, only less popular.
16. Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween (2018)
Worldwide Box Office: $93.3million
Starring: Jeremy Ray Taylor, Caleel Harris, Wendi McLendon-Covey, Ken Jeong
Despite a relatively positive start with Goosebumps in 2015, the franchise suffered a drop in appeal for its sequel Haunted Halloween which was missing the same level of on-screen chemistry (most notably a lack of Jack Black) and the same inspiration behind the camera. Haunted Halloween wasn’t great, and given the issues it ran into during its development at bringing the director and star of the original back for a second run, it’s easy to see why. Even so, the critically ill-fated project still managed to more than double its $35million budget to earn over $93million worldwide, making a third release likely, even if it may be straight to home video.