The Smurfs & the Magic Flute (La Flûte à six schtroumpfs) is an animated film from 1976, co-produced in France and Belgium, based on the comic strips created by French-Belgian cartoonist Pierre "Peyo" Culliford. It was directed by himself and Eddie Lateste, and released in France on October 7, 1976. It premiered in the United States on November 25, 1983, and was distributed by SEPP and Atlantic Rleasing Corporation.
A villain named Matthew McCreep steals the Smurfs' magic flute, an instrument that makes people dance wildly, and uses it to rob them. The Smurf King sends out Peewit to track down the thief and retrieve the flute. Now Johan and Pirlouit must get it back at all costs, so they head to the magical kingdom of Smurfs to ask for their help.
The film was dubbed twice; the original dub was done in the United Kingdom in 1979. Many of the character names are changed (for example, Johan and Peewit's names become John and William, respectively), and several Smurfs are called by the wrong names. While the voice cast was credited, it is unknown who voiced what character. This dub has been included on all American DVD releases barring the 2008 Televista release, for reasons unknown.
It was not until the success of Hanna-Barbera's The Smurfs cartoon that the film began to gain widespread attention. In the early 1980s, Stuart R. Ross, head of First Performance Pictures Corporation, acquired the American rights to the film for $1,000,000. The English dubbing for the movie was not provided by the Hanna-Barbera cast members, but by non-union talent who were contributing at the time to American versions of imported anime. The North American release of Flute grossed US$11 million out of a maximum 432 venues, the highest on record for a non-Disney production until The Care Bears Movie in 1985, and was among Atlantic's all-time top five movies at the box office.
An alternate version of the film featuring Michael Sorich as Papa Smurf was released to DVD by Televista in 2008. Since the original Vestron VHS release contains Capizzi as Papa Smurf, and likely the original theatrical release as well, this may have been made for a TV broadcast of the film.