The Smurfs are a powerhouse. That alone may be news to some folks.
In many circles, the little blue trolls get lost in the summertime avalanche of superheroes, sequels and Disney characters, but their box-office power is astounding, especially in the international market: Sony Pictures’ “The Smurfs” grossed $142.6 million stateside in 2011 and $421.1 million internationally, according to figures compiled by Box Office Mojo. For the sequel, Sony Pictures Consumer Marketing has a global promotional campaign that is one of the largest the studio has ever produced.
Among the first movie’s fans are producer Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald and the children of Britney Spears. Together, Spears, Gottwald and Kemosabe/RCA Records are launching the soundtrack to “The Smurfs 2” with the first Spears single in almost two years, “Ooh La La.” Gottwald is piggybacking the debut of his girl group G.R.L. on the single as his Kemosabe label makes its first foray into soundtracks.
“It’s a great opportunity to get music into the head of a great demographic,” Gottwald says.
G.R.L.’s “Vacation” and “Ooh La La” (released June 18) are being sold at online retailers six weeks ahead of the film’s release and five weeks before the soundtrack arrives.
Spears’ single, sent to radio June 17, will be the driver for promotion of the film and is expected to be included in early TV ad campaigns and theatrically. A video featuring the singer and the Smurfs will be released in early July and theatrical opportunities are being explored. Radio airplay seems strong enough to propel the song onto Billboard’s Mainstream Top 40 airplay chart, where it will debut next week, most likely in the 20s.
Use of other Kemosabe acts’ tracks, “Vacation” and Becky G’s song with Austin Mahone, “Magik 2.0,” will only come into marketing play — if at all — with the release of the DVD. RCA acts with albums slated for release this year, Kiana Brown and Cady Groves, are on the soundtrack, as is a track from Spears’ backup singer Sophia Black.
Music for the first “Smurfs” movie was a score composed by Heitor Pereira, who returns for the sequel, and a half-dozen synch licenses. To bring in more new music, director Raja Gosnell, producer Jordan Kerner, music supervisor Spring Aspers and Sony Pictures president of worldwide music Lia Vollack met with Gottwald while the film was in preproduction.
In December, Gottwald watched a cut of the film and started to explore where he could fit in Kemosabe acts — Nelly Furtado’s “High Life” was the one track already locked in — and then found a song for Spears to record.
“One of my writers, Ammo, had this melody and the idea was called ‘Ooh La La,'” Gottwald says. “We thought it was something we would bring to her [when we had a chance to pitch for her next album]. I played it for Spring and Lia and they played it around and everyone liked it.” Gottwald and Ammo went to work with Cirkut, Bonnie McKee, J Kash, Lola Blanc and Fransisca Hall to finish the writing. Gottwald, Ammo and Cirkut produced the track.
“The filmmakers were really open to bringing in new music,” Vollack says. “That makes it easier because we didn’t have a huge creative disagreement.”
RCA senior VP of marketing Aaron Borns says, “The fun of having a soundtrack project is it provides a slightly different context. It allows us to roll out a song in a different way than a standard single, and the soundtrack provides more to dive into.”