A Smurfin' Movie Deal
Tuesday July 19 6:13 PM ET
Fans of a certain animated tribe of small, blue woodland creatures haven't gotten a lot of love lately: No new TV episodes, no old TV episodes on DVD (outside of a couple of import releases), no real news on a long-rumored movie.
Now, finally, things are looking rather smurfin'.
A 3-D, CGI-animated Smurfs feature film will bow in theaters in 2008, Daily Variety reported Tuesday. The extravaganza from Paramount's Nickelodeon Movies will be the first in a planned trilogy, it said. According to Newsweek, the project has been trying to get off the ground since at least 2003.
Word of the done deal comes a week after DreamWorks and Paramount set a July 4, 2007, release date for The Transformers, another animated TV series due for a big-screen makeover. But while Transformers fandom has thrived, fueled by new series and product, the smaller legions of Smurf faithful have waited.
"Dude, a Smurf movie?" went a message-board post on TheMovieBlog.com last month after Newsweek noted a film was nigh. "That's the smurfing best thing I've heard in smurfing forever."
Like the Transformers, the Smurfs were a phenomenon of the 1980s, unless one lived in Europe, where the characters have been mainstays since 1958, when Belgian artist Pierre Culliford, better known as Peyo, introduced them in the comic pages. The new movie's planned release date supposedly is tied to Smurfdom's upcoming 50th birthday.
Peyo's creations--the aforementioned small, blue woodland creatures who lived in homes shaped like mushrooms, whistled happy tunes, conjugated the word "smurf" in any way they saw fit, and named themselves Ramones-style (Papa Smurf, Brainy Smurf, Grouchy Smurf, etc.)--blew up as big as any Transformer robot in 1981 when The Smurfs debuted on NBC. The Hanna-Barbera-produced series won two Daytime Emmys, moved much merchandise, from Smurf-Berry Crunch cereal to countless figurines, and dominated Saturday morning TV until 1990. A 1983 big-screen adventure, The Smurfs and the Magic Flute, grossed $11 million, per the box-office site The-Numbers.com, even though it was nothing more than a retitled, redubbed version of a 1976 Belgian-produced movie.
There was no word on voice actors for the new film. The Smurfs' family recently lost Gargamel, the bad, and Baby Smurf, the good, in the death of performer Paul Winchell. Don Messick, who voiced Papa Smurf and others, died in 1997. Smurfette, meanwhile, lives. Lucille Bliss, who gave high-pitched voice to the tribe's lone female member, is 76, and still working.
As for Peyo, he died in 1992. His progeny, however, has kept right on their merry way.