Russia’s SMF Animation Studio (formerly Soyuzmultfilm) is producing its first film slate. The family-centric 2D lineup includes an original movie based on its popular Secret of Honey Hills TV show.
The Golden Beehive (pictured) follows along with two characters from the comedy series—Sophie the owl detective and her squirrelly assistant—as they set out to solve the mysterious disappearance of the Golden Beehive, their town’s good luck charm and most prized artifact. It is produced using Epic’s Unreal Engine.
Alpine Campaign, centers around 16-year-old Grisha, who serves under Russian commander Alexander Suvorov’s regiment during his Swiss campaign. It’s set to be released in 2022.
And delivering in 2023 is post-apocalyptic odyssey The Formula for Water, featuring a girl on an epic journey to save her kidnapped scientist father who has created a machine that can restore the world’s drinking water reserves. The film’s visual style was developed by a team of animators who have worked on Maleficent, The Lion King, Gravity, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, according to SMF.
The studio is looking for co-production, distribution and broadcast partners for all of three titles, but is most focused on The Formula for Water and The Golden Beehive.
SMF has tested the feature film market in the past with Hoffmaniada, but its primary focus has been television. This slate marks its first real effort to produce cinematic content for an international audience, according to a company spokesperson, and is part of the studio’s broader goal to expand locally and internationally.
SMF was owned by the Ministry for Culture of Russia until it was privatized in August 2021. Leading up to this strategic change, the company established several new ventures, including an agreement with Cyber Group to launch a joint production partnership focused on making new preschool series for the Russian market.