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    ‘The Smurfs’ Rightsholder Rebrands as Peyo Company; Unveils New Projects Inspired by ‘Johan & Peewit’ and ‘Benny Breakiron’ Comics (EXCLUSIVE)

    By Marta Balaga,


    Say hello to Peyo Company.

    Tonight at the Annecy Animation Festival, IMPS — “The Smurfs'” global license holder — revealed it will operate under a new name going forward and begin to revive other original creations from the little blue characters’ famed founder Peyo, aka Pierre Culliford.

    Characters created by Peyo will be brought to life in new TV shows inspired by the original “Johan & Peewit” and “Benny Breakiron” comic books.
    “Tales of Johan & Peewit”

    Described as an “entertainment entity that proudly promotes and perpetuates Peyo’s work and legacy of creating fascinating stories and art,” Peyo Company will oversee “a wide range of consumer products and experience for kids and adults alike.”

    Peyo Licensing is the worldwide licensor for consumer products, family entertainment and experiences, as well as book publishing. Peyo Distribution manages the distribution of the audiovisual catalogue, Peyo Productions oversees the production of audiovisual content and Peyo Creations regroups the studio activities, producing new artwork and stories.

    “Peyo Company is currently looking for talents to make these exciting projects happen,” the team explained to Variety ahead of their Annecy presentation.

    Interestingly enough, Peyo introduced the Smurfs as a supporting act in a “Johan & Peewit” story called “The Smurfs & the Magic Flute” in 1958.

    “Readers from the weekly magazine in which ‘Johan & Peewit’ was published were so enthusiastic about how much they loved these blue characters that they returned and, eventually, Peyo created a spin-off fully dedicated to their adventures,” Peyo Company explained in a release.

    As for the company, IMPS was founded in 1984 by Véronique Culliford, Peyo’s daughter.

    “Under her guidance, ‘The Smurfs’ has become an immensely popular brand across the globe, reaching an incredible 95% global brand awareness.”

    Now, as a tribute to her father, Culliford and IMPS have created Peyo Company to regroup all of Peyo’s fascinating universes under a single banner.

    “It’s been an honor to be able to build such a success out of the blue characters my father created. And now I hope we will do the same for some of his other creations, ‘Johan & Peewit’ and ‘Benny Breakiron,'” she said.
    Peyo in the publication of the “Flûte à six schtroumpfs”

    She also asserted that the decision to rename the company will “underline their engagement to expand his legacy beyond ‘The Smurfs.'”

    “It’s a well-deserved tribute to my father and features his signature, with which he signed thousands of drawings, as our new logo.”

    Although the company has broader ambitions, the Smurfs won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

    Season 2 of the latest version of the show is coming to Netflix on June 30, and Season 3 will launch on Nickelodeon this summer. Season 4 is currently in pre-development.

    There is also a new Paramount movie on the horizon, teased by co-director Chris Miller during Variety’s Innovation and Inspiration in Global Animation panel at Annecy.

    Nele De Wilde, CCO at Peyo Company, said: “We are delighted to be working with Paramount Animation on an all-new theatrical production, ‘The Smurfs Movie.’ Paramount pulled together a dream team of filmmakers led by the smurftastic director Chris Miller, co-director Matt Landon and producers Ryan Harris, Rihanna, Laurence ‘Jay’ Brown and Tyran’ Ty-ty’ Smith.”

    The film will see the Smurfs going on an “interdimensional adventure” to discover the power within and answer the universal question: “What is a Smurf?”

    “We’re thrilled that Rihanna is on board to voice Smurfette and write, produce and perform original songs for the film,” De Wilde added.

    The film is scheduled for a worldwide theatrical release in February 2025.

    During Tuesday’s presentation, De Wilde further discussed “Johan & Peewit” comics and upcoming “Tales of Johan & Peewit,” which will be an origin story.

    “We will follow Johan on his quest to discover where he comes from. With Peewit, of course, a couple of new friends and a Smurf. It’s a full circle. We will do a spin-off of a spin-off.”

    The original comic debuted in 1947.

    “It was very successful at that time. Peewit has many flaws – he is an anti-hero. He is not perfect like Johan. Peyo, being a bit of a prankster himself, loved to play around with this character. What he couldn’t do with Johan, we could do with Peewit, who is a bit lazy and greedy. He loved that.”

    Peewit also served as a visual prototype for the Smurfs.

    “His nose is the same and his hair looks like a Smurf cap,” she observed.

    As for “Benny Breakiron,” he was always defending the weak.

    “He is not just very nice – he can leap very high and he is very strong. He could lift elephants! He is not some perfect superhero, however, and when he catches a cold, he loses his superpowers. And he always catches a cold when he shouldn’t, which leads to many funny situations.”

    Peyo’s grandson Nicolas Tytgat also opened up about his grandfather’s work.

    “I think its appeal lies in the universal themes and values. The Smurfs emphasize friendship, teamwork and adventure,” he said. But, as noted by De Wilde, Peyo was sometimes frustrated by the Smurfs’ success.

    “They took up all his time,” she said.

    “It doesn’t make sense to profile ourselves just as ‘the Smurfs’ company’ anymore, so we needed this rebranding.”

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