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Raja Gosnell to direct ‘Smurfs’

Filmmaker to helm live-action/animated pic

Raja Gosnell has been tapped to direct Sony’s live-action/animated “Smurfs.”

The film will be released in 3-D and 2-D formats on Dec. 17, 2010.

“Smurfs” will be produced by Jordan Kerner (“Charlotte’s Web”). J. David Stem and David N. Weiss (“Shrek 2,” “Jimmy Neutron”) penned the script and Audrey Wells (“George of the Jungle”) is polishing; the logline’s being kept under wraps.

Gosnell started his career as an editor on “Home Alone,” “Pretty Woman” and “Mrs. Doubtfire” and broke into directing on “Home Alone 3.” He most recently helmed “Beverly Hills Chihuahua.”

Sony announced in June 2008 that it had launched the “Smurfs” movie project after obtaining film rights to the blue-colored characters from Lafig Belgium via Kerner and signing Stem and Weiss to write the screenplay. Kerner secured film rights to the Smurfs property in 2002.

Best known in the U.S. for the long-running Hanna-Barbera cartoon, the Smurfs were created in 1958 by Belgian cartoonist Pierre Culliford, known throughout the world as Peyo. The Smurfs, known as “Les Schtroumpfs” in French, were created for a Belgian series of comicbooks, first as minor characters.

The dwarflike villagers spawned a line of statuettes, games, toys, theme parks and a hit TV series, which ran as part of NBC’s Saturday-morning lineup 1981-90.

“Smurfs” marks Sony Pictures Animation’s first hybrid film and was the first project to go into development since Hannah Minghella was named prexy of production for the division in April 2008.

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