Children in the blue town of J˙zcar, :: REUTERS
It was going to be just a few weeks at the most. For as long as the new film about the little blue creatures ‘The Smurfs’ was still on at the cinema. Three years later the streets of this traditional white village, with fewer than 300 inhabitants, are still painted sky blue.
It is three years now since the village was approached by Sony with the ambitious idea of turning it into a Smurf Village for the launch of the latest big screen adaptation of the cartoon characters created by Belgian artist Peyo.
Now J˙zcar is blowing out three blue candles more convinced than ever that adopting the Smurfs was the best thing they could have done. Instead of going back to white after the film launch was over, the people voted to stay blue.
Over the last three years more than 400,000 people have visited the village; children wide-eyed, hoping to catch a glimpse of Grouchy, Hefty, Philosopher, Clumsy, Smurfette or the rest of the blue gang.
“We did the right thing; the village is more cheerful and, now it’s the end of term, visitor numbers will shoot up because it’s the children who like coming here most,” explained the mayor of J˙zcar, David Fernßndez, whom many villagers have christened ‘Papa Pitufo’ (Papa Smurf in Spanish). Last summer the visits to this corner of the Genal Valley peaked again with the release of ‘The Smurfs 2’.
In the first two years of being blue, J˙zcar received 210,000 visitors; in the last 12 months the figure has almost doubled with another 190,000 people wandering the streets of this Smurf-themed Andalusian village.
In fact the arrival of tourists en masse has caused headaches as well as joy for the mayor. As the cars and coaches rolled up, at times it appeared that the tiny enclave in the mountains was unable to cope with the sheer volume of people.
Since then the village has created car parks and opened nine Smurf-related businesses. The local population has increased and the village has got through the worst years of the crisis thanks to the extra income generated by the world of the Smurfs.
Sony has already raked in 900 million euros with the first two films and has announced that the third part will be out in the summer of 2015.
“I’ve already asked them to premiere the film here next year,” said J˙zcar’s own Papa Smurf.