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June 10, 2008

'Smurfs' coming to big screen
'Shrek' sequel scribes in negotiations to write the project

With a combination of live-action and animation, the Smurfs are about to come to life on the big screen.

Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation have acquired film rights to the blue mushroom dwellers from Lafig Belgium. Jordan Kerner ("Charlotte's Web") is producing and "Shrek 2" and "Shrek the Third" screenwriters David Stem and David Weiss are in negotiations to write.

While most Americans became aware of the Smurfs when they starred in a Hanna-Barbera series that premiered in 1981, Belgian cartoonist Peyo actually introduced European audiences to the characters as far back as 1958.

In the animated series (and the comic), the peaceful and mostly industrious Smurfs were terrorized by the evil Gargamel, who wanted the three-apple-high critters for a variety of nefarious purposes.

"The Smurfs are one of the best-known franchises and among the most beloved collection of characters in the world," says Columbia President Doug Belgrad. "These classic characters have entertained millions of people and several generations all over the world for more than half a century. We're very excited to introduce a new generation to Papa Smurf, Smurfette and the other Smurfs in all of their 'three apple tall' glory."

The Hanna-Barbera cartoon ran for 256 episodes.

Sony's president of digital production Bob Osher adds, "Through Animation and Imageworks, our visual effects and character animation studio, we have an extraordinary capability to mix animation and live action having created a number of fully-realized CG characters in live action films from Stuart Little to Spider-Man 3. We couldn't be more delighted or excited about working together on The Smurfs motion picture."

Sony's official announcement of the project coincides with the company's licensing effort build around classic Smurf characters at this year's Licensing Show beginning today in New York.

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