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Last year, despite critics' warnings and scorn, audiences worldwide giddily swarmed theaters to see a Manhattanite struggle to please his pregnant wife and keep up with the intense responsibilities of his job at a cosmetics company with the help of a batch of little blue sprites. The Smurfs movie went on to earn more than $560 million, and so Sony's been eager to crank out sequels and cash in on the globe's inexplicable love of these CGI Smurfs. The Smurfs 3 is already in development, and The Smurfs 2 is now shooting with Neil Patrick Harris reprising his role as Patrick Winslow, the harried man mentioned above.

i09 has caught a glimpse of NPH on set, carrying a greenscreened can that's surely a stand-in for one of his titular co-stars. As there appear to be crewmembers chilling in the background, it seems this may be a shot of a runthrough, which is a shame because that background extra in the wrap is acting her heart out.

Editor turned Smurfs director Raja Gosnell, who has helmed such family friendly features as Home Alone 3 and Beverly Hills Chihuahua, is back to helm this sequel. Also returning are screenwriters J. David Stem and David Weiss along with Smurfs castmembers Jayma Mays as Patrick Winslow's better half, Jonathan Winters as Papa Smurf, Katy Perry as Smurfette, Anton Yelchin as Clumsy, Alan Cumming as Gutsy, and Hank Azaria as Gargamel. Joining the voice cast is another former child star who made the tricky leap to more mature and interesting roles, only to squander it with an appearance in Smurfs 2, Christina Ricci. Previous reports tell us she will be playing Vexi, a sort of femme fatale smurf.

The Smurfs 2 will hit theaters July 31, 2013.

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