They were a staple of Sunday afternoon viewing for British kids of a certain age, and with seemingly endless episodes of the ‘toon show, a myriad of merchandising and even their own album, the Smurfs were the Bob The Builder or Elmo of the ‘80s.
And now the little blue loonies are set to become movie stars thanks to Jordan Kerner, who has recently dipped his hand into the kiddie barrel to give beloved book Charlotte’s Web the Babe treatment. But if you have horrific visions of live-action Smurfs in your head (we did, and trust us – it ain’t pretty) rest easy - because Kerner wants to take the Shrek road.
“It's a 3-D/CG Smurfs," Kerner told Moviehole. "You just can't make those guys live – it'd be a little weird, but a 3D Shrek world of them - that's fantastic. Having seen all 234 episodes of the show, numerous times, Herb Ratner and I have been working really hard at looking where all the holes were in the episodes, and what we've done is we've plugged all those holes in a trilogy of three movies, and we reveal things as we go along."
The idea of a Smurfs movie has been on the cards for ages, though apparently the rights holders were somewhat reticent to loosen their grip on the udders of their favourite cash cow. "They're all so very protective of The Smurfs, so it took me five years of negotiation to get the rights. And then, they were very uncertain about what story we wanted to tell – we weren't going to tell them until we had the rights, either. Then we got the rights on everyone's faith that they also had an ability to veto, and presented them with the treatment. They just loved it. To be told that they loved it – not just liked it – and to be told that the creator Peyo would've loved it, is a huge blessing and a great thing to have happen."
Oh, and Kerner has some lofty ideas about how he sees this possible franchise progressing. "This will be the animated Lord Of The Rings – through the world of these idiots. Because they're sweet characters but they're goofs. It's a comic version, but still very heartfelt, version of Rings – though not literally that, but an epic story like that."
Kerner finishes up by floating the fan-favourite idea of John Lithgow lending his scenery chewing vocal stylings to the role of Smurf enemy number one, the evil wizard Gargamel, who will apparently get the origin story treatment in the initial movie. Seriously, though… The animated Lord Of The Rings? The Smurfs? We’re not sure we’ll believe it even if we do see it.