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‘The Smurfs’ Blu-ray Comes Loaded

30 Nov, 2011 By: Chris Tribbey, Billy Gil

Heather Serrano, executive director of worldwide content development with Sony Pictures Entertainment, demos Smurf-O-Vision.

CULVER CITY, Calif. — The team over at Sony Pictures Animation thought they might have a hit on their hands, but nobody could have predicted just how big The Smurfs would turn out to be.

The animation has raked in more than $560 million at the worldwide box office to date, and a sequel featuring the “three-apple-tall” blue creatures has already been green-lit. Sony is hoping the success extends to home video, when Sony Pictures Home Entertainment releases the film on DVD, Blu-ray Disc and 3D Blu-ray Dec. 2.

“It’s a really exciting time at the studio,” said Michelle Raimo-Kouyate, president of production for Sony Pictures Animation. “We’re really proud of how The Smurfs [was] embraced by families around the world.”

Raimo-Kouyate and other studio representatives showed off several of the bonuses included on the Blu-ray versions of The Smurfs, mostly aimed directly at the audience that made the film such a hit: children.

“What we’re most excited about is the Smurf-O-Vision Second Screen Experience,” said Heather Serrano, executive director of worldwide content development for Sony Pictures Entertainment. The application — which already has already been downloaded more than 36,000 times — syncs the Blu-ray to iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads, allowing users to interact with more than a dozen activities while the film plays, take photos and watch exclusive bonuses.

However, director Raja Gosnell in an earlier interview with Home Media Magazine said the film also appeals to adults, having drawn inspiration from the original comic strips by “The Smurfs'” creator, Belgian cartoonist Peyo.

“In Peyo's work, the Smurfs weren't quite as sweet all the time,” Gosnell said, comparing the Hanna-Barbera cartoon to the original strips. “The books were much more sophisticated, I think, than the cartoons. We tried to get some humor in there for older audiences and play beyond the young children's realm, which I think we did quite successfully.”

The Blu-ray also include an all-new mini movie, The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol. The animation switches between the newer animation featured in the film and the classic animation from “The Smurfs” TV series.

“It was fun for us to pay homage and see these characters come to life,” said Troy Quane, director of The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol. “[We] unabashedly embrace the spirit of Christmas.”

“It'll be nice for the audience to see the original cartoon version of the Smurfs along with our living, breathing three-dimensional Smurfs,” Gosnell said.

The Smurfs — along with Friends With Benefits, also out Dec. 2 — marks Sony’s debut of UltraViolet, the buy-once, play-anywhere digital locker system. Jeremy Glassman, manager of emerging platforms for Sony, said more details would be released about Sony’s UltraViolet experience soon.

“It’s great if you have someone across the country, or just across the house, who wants to watch your library,” he said of UltraViolet.

Gosnell said he likes the idea of having UltraViolet enabled for his film.

“It is exciting,” he said. “You get to enjoy the movie on as many devices you want, for as long as you want.”

The Blu-ray versions of The Smurfs also include a couple of games, “Blue-pers,” deleted and extended scenes, a “Happy Music Montage,” two commentary tracks, a featurette following the characters from their comic book origins to the big screen, a meet-the-cast featurette, progression reels and a “Going Gargamel” featurette.

In cooperation with augmented reality company GoldRun, Sony also is offering an Apple application that allows users to track down six different Smurfs in the real world and take pictures of them to share.

And to mark the release and the holidays, Sony is updating the Smurfs Village downloadable game to include themes and characters from The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol, including a holiday Smurfette.

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