It was directed by Raja Gosnell and stars Neil Patrick Harris, Hank Azaria, Jayma Mays, and Sofía Vergara. It is the first CGI/live-action hybrid film to be produced by Sony Pictures Animation and in The Smurfs trilogy. During early production the film was known as The Smurfs Movie.
After five years of negotiations, Jordan Kerner bought the rights in 2002 and was in development with Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies until Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation obtained the film rights in 2008. Filming began in March 2010 in New York.
After having the release date changed three times, Columbia Pictures released The Smurfs on July 29, 2011.
Box office analysts initially predicted the film would tie with Cowboys & Aliens, but The Smurfs ultimately came in second grossing $35.6 million against Cowboys & Aliens's $36.4 million. The Smurfs received generally negative reviews from film critics but has been a box office success, and CinemaScore polls showed a positive score from audience voters.
The film's North American theatrical release date was originally December 17, 2010, but it was pushed to July 29, 2011. It was pushed back again to August 3, 2011. On March 25, 2011, the release date was reverted back to July 29, 2011. For marketing, Sony teamed up with marketing partners in the United States and Canada to promote the film with McDonald's Happy Meals and with Post Foods brand cereal with special blue-and-white cereal box.
The Smurfs opened on approximately 5,300 screens at 3,395 locations, with 2,042 locations being 3D-enabled theaters. On July 28, 2011, Exhibitor Relations predicted The Smurfs would rank third its opening weekend with $24 million but analyst Jeff Bock added that the film "could be a dark horse and do better than expected". That same day, John Young of Entertainment Weekly predicted a $32 million opening and a second place ranking behind Cowboys & Aliens. He also stated that the ticket service Fandango reported that the film was leading in ticket sales. The Smurfs came in number one on Friday making an $13.2 million, ahead of Cowboys & Aliens $13 million.
According to Sony's research, 65% of Smurfs' audience was parents (40%) and their children under 12 years old (25%). Overall the audience breakdown was reported as 64% female and 55% age 25 years and older.
Estimates later showed that Cowboys & Aliens and The Smurfs were tied at the number spot for the weekend with $36.2 million each. However, actual figures showed Cowboys & Aliens won the weekend with $36.4 million just beating The Smurfs's $35.6 million. The Smurfs's opening was still stronger than anticipated since some box office analysts predicted that it would open below $30 million. For its second weekend the film remained at number two with Rise of the Planet of the Apes taking Cowboys & Aliens's spot. It made $20.7 million (41% being from 3D showings), a 42% decrease from it opening weekend.
The Smurfs opened to $4.4 million from seven territories with Spain taking in $4 million of that total. On its second weekend it expanded to 42 territories, taking first place in most of its markets and grossing $45.2 million. Among the markets the film opened in first place were Brazil ($6.65 million), France ($5.93 million), Mexico ($5.53 million) Germany ($5.43 million) and India (INR17,200,000). As of Sep. 18, 2011, the film has grossed $137.5 million in the United States and Canada, along with $345.4 million in other markets, for a worldwide total of $483 million.