IMPS, together with LAFIG Belgium, are the official licensors of The Smurfs. Over the years, they have worked in close collaboration with global partners to develop licensed merchandising, retail and co-branded promotions, publishing activities, broadcasting deals, theme parks, live shows and more. Today, the company, which is run by Véronique Culliford, daughter of Smurfs creator Peyo (Pierre Culliford), is set for its latest challenge: bringing the blue-skinned creatures back to TV, for the first time in over 30 years, with Peyo Productions. Here, the company’s Nele De Wilde tells us how, and why!
MIPBlog: Why did you decide to bring The Smurfs back to TV?
Nele De Wilde: It has been more than 30 years since the last Smurf television episode came out. However, The Smurfs never really disappeared from television screens, with the classic 80s Hannah-Barbera series still being successfully broadcast in about 100 different countries every year. The idea to create a brand-new Smurf TV series had been lingering for years in the head of Veronique Culliford, president & founder of Peyo Productions and IMPS, and Peyo’s daughter. When the last Sony movie, The Smurfs and The Lost Village came out, she felt like it was the perfect moment to initiate the project. Three years later, the first episode is finished, and the 3D CGI series is set to debut in 2021.
> How did you make sure The Smurfs remain relevant to today’s audiences?
Nele De Wilde: A big challenge was to find the right balance between the expectations of today’s audience and the wish to remain faithful to the vision of Peyo, and the spirit of the original comic books. The little blue characters are now making a high-profile TV comeback in a brand-new dynamic 3D version. Built on pure Smurf DNA, the new series for girls and boys takes the charm and wacky comedy of the original to even greater heights, fitting in perfectly with today’s faster-paced world. It’s an explosive package full of adventure and humour for the whole family to enjoy! The first season consists of 52 episodes of 11 minutes each and features all beloved characters from the classic – Papa Smurf, Smurfette, Brainy, Hefty, Clumsy and others – as well as new female characters, the Smurf girls. Still chased by their evil nemesis Gargamel and his side-kick Azrael, the Smurfs will go on all-new adventures!
> Can you tell us more about the production team?
Nele De Wilde: The series is being produced by Peyo Productions and Dupuis Audiovisuel. It is directed by William Renaud (Calimero, Casper’s Scare School, A Kind of Magic) and written by Peter Saisselin and Amy Serafin (whose credits both include Sonic Boom and Alvin!!! And the Chipmunks).
> Which broadcasters are already on board?
Nele De Wilde: French broadcaster TF1, German public kids broadcaster KIKA and both Belgian public channels VRT and RTBF are co-production partners on the project and will launch the first episodes in 2021. Bringing this property to a new generation of kids and families as well is Nickelodeon, where the series is slated to debut in 2021 globally. A wide variety of other free-to-air channels will hop on board as from Spring 2022. The Smurfs’ licensors, IMPS and Lafig Belgium, are also developing brand new products in line with the show, in close collaboration with their agents and licensees around the globe. Whether it will be through video games, books, toys, theme parks or live shows, the world will soon turn blue.
The Smurfs is a Peyo Productions and Dupuis Audiovisuel production, in collaboration with KIKA, TF1, VRT and RTBF, with the participation of Wallimage (La Wallonie), Screen Flanders, BNPPFFF and with the support of the Tax Shelter of the Belgian Government and the participation of the CNC.
To find out more about The Smurfs as part of MIP Cancun Online+, be sure to reach out to Anne-Claire De Briey on the platform. See you there!