JUZCAR, a small village in the province of Malaga once known as one of the ‘White Towns of Andalucia’, shot to fame in 2011 when buildings in the town (including the church and cemetery) were painted smurf-blue by Sony Pictures to celebrate the premiere of the Smurfs movie in Spain.
Sony offered to repaint the village – home to only 240 inhabitants – white later that year but residents voted to leave the buildings painted blue, as an estimated 80,000 tourists visited ‘Smurf village’ in the six months following the repainting – the town normally had seen 300 tourists per year.
Locals soon realised they could further cash in on their blue village – adorning walls with paintings of Smurfs, cramming stalls with Smurf souvenirs and some locals even dressing up as Smurf characters to pose for photos.
‘Smurf village’ is reported to have attracted 50,000 tourists a year over the past six years.
But a recent dispute between the town hall and the estate of the Smurf creator, Belgian comics artist Pierre Culliford whose pen name was Peyo, resulted in the estate demanding 12 per cent in royalties on all Smurf-related income.
The town hall couldn’t reach an agreement with the estate so, from August 15, there will be no more references to the small blue figures.
However, the houses will remain painted blue.