Having been around for more than half a century, The Smurfs is a brand that is known around the world... and it's a pop culture legacy that demands protection. Because of this, any filmmaker who wants to take on a Smurfs adaptation actually has to follow a certain set of rules, ensuring that what's being created is proper for the Smurfs image. And while you might have a thousand guesses for what rule number one is, we're betting that you won't get it. As we recently learned from Smurfs: The Lost Village director Kelly Asbury, it concerns the diet of the little blue guys.
Last month, I joined a group of journalists for a press event at Sony Pictures Animation previewing the studio's upcoming slate, and it was while participating in a roundtable interview that Asbury revealed details of the Smurf rulebook. The filmmaker was asked about working with the Peyo estate in the making of The Smurfs: The Lost Village, and after revealing that there is a literal rulebook, I followed up by asking what Rule #1 was. He explained,
Smurfs must only eat Smurfberries. They can eat Smurfberry pie, they can have a Smurfberry sandwich, they can do whatever they want. But you can't have a Subway sandwich. It's got to be Smurfberries.
Kind of an odd rule to be at the top of the list, no? At the same time, it is understandable for exactly the reason that Kelly Asbury presents. If the Smurfs only eat Smurfberries, that means that paid product placement can't interfere with the canon that has been established. It's a nice move to protect a certain amount of integrity for the characters, and I'm sure that the rest of the regulations are meant to ensure the exact same thing.
In discussing the Smurfs rulebook in a more general sense, Kelly Asbury explained that having some guidelines actually wound up helping him as a filmmaker, citing a quote from one of the greatest artists of all time:
They had a rule book, and those were parameters we had to work in. Picasso said, 'Limitation is what sets the artist free.' Because it makes you create within rules -- so rules are good! It's like a dog, a leash is good!
Hopefully we'll get to eventually learn more of the rules about making Smurfs movies, and that may come closer to the release of Smurfs: The Lost Village -- which will be in theaters on April 7th. Be on the look-out for that, as well as more from out interview with one of the movie's main stars, Joe Manganiello!