ANNECY, France — Wednesday night saw the unofficial world premiere of a nearly-finished version of the third in Sony Pictures Animation’s tentpole film series, “Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation.”
The first two “Hotel Transylvania” films have been the company’s largest animation box office hits outside of the first “Smurfs” movie. “Hotel Transylvania” and “Hotel Transylvania 2” accumulated a combined U.S. box office in excess of $800 million.
“Hotel 3” was introduced to the audience by franchise director and animation legend Genndy Tartakovsky. The ovation for the man behind series such as “Samurai Jack,” “Dexters Lab” and “Star Wars: Clone Wars” was perhaps the biggest of the evening. He also co-wrote this installment, the first time he has held that mantle for a “Hotel Transylvania” film.
“The interesting thing is I got an opportunity to write this one along with Michael McCullers,” Tartakovsky told Variety in an interview. “And because I started it from the ground up, I was able to structure it the way that I structure stories. That means that I write for the sequences that I want to see animated.”
The film kicks off in the same hotel from the first two films, but when Mavis sees her father Dracula, who seems a bit down, she organizes a cruise vacation so that he can spend more time with his increasingly overworked family. She also invites his friends and their families. They quickly set off on their water-bound adventure.
It’s on the ship that Dracula first lays eyes on Ericka, the acrobatic blond captain. And, for the second time in his life, he zings – the monster equivalent of love at first sight. Unbeknownst to everyone on board however, Ericka is the great granddaughter of Abraham Van Helsing, long-time nemesis to Dracula and hunter of all monsters.
If initial audience reactions are anything to judge by, the third should have no problem continuing the series’ trend of box office success. The packed-to-the-rafters 1,000-seat Bonlieu Grand Auditorium theater was raucous with laughter, and the film received a mighty, rhythmic applause when the end credits rolled.
While the laughs were shared by all, it was kids present that seemed to take the greatest pleasure from the film’s jokes and pratfalls. For instance, every time the family dog Tinkles was on the screen, even in disguise, screams of joy could be heard from the audience’s younger members.
“I don’t know what a six or eight-year-old likes, but at the same time I don’t really know what a 35 year old likes,” Tartakovsky said of filmmaking for all ages. “So we’ve always tried to make things for us. Generally, if the crew likes it, we know we’ve got something.
It wasn’t just the kids that enjoyed the film.
“It’s my favorite so far in the series,” said Peter, a freelance animator visiting Annecy for the first time. “I love the first two, and everything Genndy does, but this one has so much action, it feels epic.”
“I will definitely be seeing it again when it comes out in theaters,” said Sarah, an animation student, as she left the theater with a group of her classmates.
“Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation,” is scheduled for release July 13.