Hollywood never expected The Smurfs 3D to become such a box office phenom. Even though the studio always had confidence in the franchise. Sony Pictures just announced that The Smurfs has grossed an estimated $12.9M for the weekend overseas, bringing the international cume to $364.4M and pushing the worldwide cume over the half-billion mark to an estimated $502.8 million. Sure, it’s easy to look down your nose at The Smurfs, but it was brought in out of turnaround from Paramount by no less than Sony Pictures Entertainment Chairman/CEO Michael Lynton. Animation was overseen by Bob Osher and Hannah Minghella (who is now president of production for Sony’s Columbia Pictures) while live action was shepherded by Doug Belgrad. Marketing was taken in hand by Jeff Blake and Marc Weinstock. The cartoon first launched in Europe in 1958 so the pic was tracking well overseas after Global Smurfs Day was organized by Sony and McDonald’s planned the year’s largest global campaign in over 30,000 restaurants. In Spain, a village volunteered to paint their entire town Smurf blue. And Smurf fans set a new Guinness world record for the largest gathering of people dressed as the little blue guys within a 24-hour period in multiple venues. Look, I don’t get the appeal of garden gnomes or troll dolls or Smurfs for that matter. They creep me out. But the little blue guys were first drawn by Belgian artist Pierre “Peyo” Culliford for a comic book. The “Schtroumpfs,” as they were initially called, have lasted 50 years and generated comics, books, television series, films, videogames, live shows, and figurines. The Smurfs movie also took a long time to come to the Big Screen. In 1980, the late (and great) Brandon Tartikoff developed the Hanna-Barbera show on NBC for Saturday mornings. It ran 8 years. In 1997, producer Jordan Kerner sent the first of a series of letters to Lafig, the licensing agent for the Smurfs brand, as a first step to making a movie. And in 2002, after seeing Kerner’s adaptation of E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Peyo’s heirs gave the OK.
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