Smurfs, Ulysses, Gold Are Coming Back

With “TMNT” having been released, “Transformers” a few months from delivery, and the likes of “Battle of the Planets” and “Astro Boy” on the way, there’s a fight going on to turn famous cartoon properties into money makers again. Talk of three such properties emerged this past week.

The most solid one right now is “The Smurfs”. According to The Herald Telegraph it seems that Sydney-based visual effects company Vertigo, a group of former Animal Logic animators who were behind the designs on last year’s major hit “Happy Feet,” are already in pre-production on a CG animated feature based on the classic cartoon of a village of tiny blue-skinned creatures. Voice casting will take place later this year and Warner Bros. is expected to release the film Summer 2009.

Relatively reliable is word from Moviehole.com that with “Battlestar Galactica” likely to end next season, The Sci-Fi Channel is already looking at other properties to fill it. One potential candidate? A Dean Devlin-produced live action reinvention of the French-Japanese anime series “Ulysses 31”. The original series reinvented the Greek legend of Odysseus into a 31st century sci-fi setting. Much of the series has the character, captain of the ship Odyssey, facing off sci-fi reinventions of creatures from Greek mythology as he goes in search of the Kingdom of Hades in order to get back to Earth.

Finally, French production company CineMaxia have apparently picked up the rights for a remake of the beloved, but hard to find cartoon series “The Mysterious Cities of Gold”. The 16th-century set series mixes South American history, archaeology and science fiction in its tale of a group of kids and adults in search of El Dorado, one of the lost cities of gold. Whether this will be a live-action or animated take, big or small screen is unknown at present.