From producer Jordan Kerney
Producer Jordan Kerner (“Charlotte’s Web”, “George of the Jungle 2”) gave Moviehole a bit of an update on his forthcoming projects today, including the feature film version of “The Smurfs”.
“It’s a 3-D/CG Smurfs”, said Kerner. “You just can’t make those guys live – it’d be a little weird, but a 3D Shrek world of them – that’s fantastic.”
Kerner says he has been researching the popular 80s cartoon extensively. “Having seen all 234 episodes of the show, numerous times, Herb Ratner and I have been working really hard at looking where all the holes were in the episodes – ya’know, like all of a sudden another woman appears, it’s not just smurfette – and what we’ve done is we’ve plugged all those holes in a trilogy of three movies, and we reveal things as we go along”.
“They’re all so very protective of [The Smurfs], so it took me five years of negotiation to get the rights. And then, they were very uncertain about what story we wanted to tell – we weren’t going to tell them until we had the rights, either. Then we got the rights on everyone’s faith that they also had an ability to veto, and presented them with the treatment. They just loved it. To be told that they loved it – not just liked it – and to be told that [creator] Peyo would’ve loved it, is a huge blessing and a great thing to have happen”.
The “Smurfs” trilogy will be “the animated Lord of the Rings – through the world of these idiots. Because they’re sweet characters but they’re goofs. It’s a comic version, but still very heartfelt, version of Lord of the Rings – though not literally Lord of the Rings, but an epic story like that.”
The fan favourite to voice the character of Gargamel seems to be John Lithgow. “Very interesting”, smiles Kerner. “I love John Lithgow”.
Gargamel’s back-story is going to be fully examined in the film trilogy. We’ll learn “[more] about Gargamel and Smurf Soup and how all that began and what really goes on in that castle. What his backstory really was. There’s an all-powerful wizard… there’s all sorts of things that get revealed as we go along”.
Kerner also produced the “Mighty Ducks” film series and said he has had discussions about a fourth film.
“A young, very talented and sophisticated television writer/producer – who’ll rename nameless – who was probably twelve when The Mighty Ducks came out, now 25, came to me about a year-and-a-half ago with an approach. He and I talked about it. I had another approach, though, so we worked on something jointly together. We still have more work to do”.
He believes there is an opportunity to take some of the characters like “Goldberg and Averman and bring them back, and we can revisit that, if we had a fresh story to tell. And that’s what we’re working on”.
The plotline for “The Mighty Ducks 4” will have a lot to do with today’s generation preferring to stay inside and play video games or search the internet rather than get out there and play a sport.
The question that’ll be asked is “is there something to say about this generation about self-generated material, about enclosure in the media – things where kids don’t necessarily get outside? I’m not saying there’s anything against that; I’m just saying how do we get kids to do both things? – I mean, kids’ sense of wonder about things that are actually alive have diminished. That could fit its way in. We’d remind viewers what the sense of playing hockey – or merely rediscovering a sport – means”.
Though he’s reluctant to say whether original stars Joshua Jackson or Emilio Estevez would be involved, he’s got nothing but praise.
“Josh is a good guy – they’re all great. When The Mighty Ducks were in the Stanley Cup two weeks ago, Emilio, Josh and myself were all there – at the [legendary] 7th game.”
In that match, the ‘Ducks’, who were “this team of rag-tag players with a showboat name, a team nobody thought could get there, lost by a shootout”, says Kerner. “It was just a storybook. It was phenomenal”.
Kerner is also producing a live-action version of “Trumpet of the Swan” and the mini-series “Tale of Two Cities”.