August 9, 2022

Media Decoder: Sony Invites People to Go Smurfing

Columbia PicturesSony has declared June 25 Global Smurfs Day to promote the movie “The Smurfs.”

Cinephiles, microphobes and people for the ethical treatment of cartoon characters should cover their eyes now. The world is about to crawl with little blue people, at least if the movie marketers at Sony have their way.

“The Smurfs,” in 3-D no less, does not arrive until July 29. But Sony, which operates one of Hollywood’s most twisted marketing shops (that is, successful), has declared June 25 Global Smurfs Day. On that Saturday, Sony wants people to gather in cities around the world, including New York, dressed as Smurfs: white hat, white pants and shoes, body painted blue.

The goal is to set a Guinness record in the very specific category of “Largest Gathering of People Dressed as Smurfs Within a 24-hour Period — Multiple Venue.”

As it turns out, fans have been staging these gatherings on their own for years. About 1,250 people dressed as Smurfs turned out in Ireland in 2008; 2,510 assembled in a Wales nightclub in 2009. Sony is trying to break that record.

The Smurfs were created in 1958 by the Belgian artist Pierre Culliford, who drew under the name Peyo. Mr. Culliford, who died in 1992, would have turned 83 on June 25.

Urban mythology holds that the 1980s-era cartoon series built around the characters was communist propaganda. Others see sexism — there was just one Smurfette for a long time — and drug use because of those magic mushrooms that served as houses. Peyo’s heirs have flatly dismissed such chatter.

“The Smurfs,” which stars Neil Patrick Harris, is an animation-live action hybrid in the style of “Alvin and the Chipmunks” and is about Smurfs on the loose in Manhattan. It was directed by Raja Gosnell, whose last film was the mocked but money-minting “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”

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