Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation have hired Raja Gosnell to direct the live-action and animated Smurfs feature.

Gosnell directed Beverly Hills Chihuahua and Scooby-Doo, as well as Never Been Kissed and Big Momma’s House.

Sony has set a December 2010 release in 2D and 3D for the film, which is being produced by Jordan Kerner. J David Stem, David N Weiss and Audrey Wells wrote the screenplay.

The story is based on the legendary blue characters created by Pierre Culliford, more famously known as Peyo. The Smurfs had their own Hanna Barbera TV show, and the brand has been exploited extensively through books, comics and merchandising.

“With Raja coming aboard, we now have a brilliant director who has proven time and again that he has a deft touch in blending the worlds of physical comedy and honest emotion with both live action and photo real animated characters,” Kerner said.

Lafig Belgium owns the rights to produce audio-visual works based on the Smurf property. Lafig Belgium and IMPS are worldwide licensors of the Smurf merchandising rights and are controlled by Peyo’s daughter Veronique Culliford.