Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Animation team up for 'Smurfs'

MUMBAI: Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation have obtained the motion picture rights to the Smurfs from Lafig Belgium via producer Jordan Kerner.

The parties will develop a live action/animated major motion picture based on the iconic and lovable sky blue colored classic characters.

David Stem and David Weiss are in negotiations to be brought on board to write the screenplay. Stem and Weiss are the screenwriters behind Shrek 2 and Shrek 3.

Columbia Pictures president Doug Belgrad said, "The Smurfs are one of the best-known franchises and among the most beloved collection of characters in the world. 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."

Sony Pictures Entertainment president of digital production Bob Osher says, "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 Pictures Animation president of production Hannah Minghella says, "The entire team at Sony Pictures Animation is tremendously excited to team with our colleagues at Columbia Pictures and Kerner Entertainment in bringing the Smurfs to the big screen. This is our first hybrid film and we‘re excited to expand our creative initiatives in this direction".

Best known in the US for the long-running Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the Smurfs were created in 1958 by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, known throughout the world as Peyo. The Smurfs -- originally called Les Schtroumpfs in French -- were created for a Belgian series of comic books, first as minor characters, but soon taking on a life of their own.

The peaceful little characters were featured in a line of statuettes selling over 300 million worldwide, models, games, toys, theme parks, and the television series.

Sony will begin a licensing effort around the Classic Smurfs characters at this year‘s Licensing Show in New York.

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