Sesame Workshop, the producers of the Sesame Street television series have filed suit against the upcoming puppet noir comedy The Happytime Murders and its studio the Jim Henson Company and distributor STX claiming that the recently released trailer for the R-rated film “tarnishes” the Sesame Street brand.
The red band trailer released last week features puppets engaged in sex and drug use and carries the tag line “No sesame. All street.”
And while one would think that that tag line would be a clear indicator that the beloved children’s educational television series was not to be confused with The Happytime Murders, the verbiage of the lawsuit would like to claim otherwise. In the suit filed Wednesday, they claim that the trailer for the film –
Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, learned last Friday that the name Sesame Street is being used to market a graphic, adult-themed movie. We were surprised and disappointed that Sesame Street, a show dedicated to educating young children, is being exploited to market this R-rated film… We immediately contacted the film’s distributor, STX Films, and requested that they remove our name from the film’s marketing. They declined to do so. We take no issue with the creative freedom of the filmmakers and their right to make and promote this movie, rather this is about how our name is being misused to market a film with which we have no association. We regret that our fans and families have been confused by STX’s marketing campaign… The promotion of The Happytime Murders should succeed or fail on its own merits, not on a cynical, unlawful attempt to deceive and confuse the public into associating it with the most celebrated children’s program in history.
The suit also included some social media postings which they claim illustrate this confusion.
The irony here, of course, is that The Happytime Murders is directed by Brian Henson, the son of Jim Henson, who created the Muppets that are featured on Sesame Street.
In response, STX released their own, albeit tongue-in-cheek, statement via a puppet lawyer by the name of Fred, esq.
STX loved the idea of working closely with Brian Henson and the Jim Henson Company to tell the untold story of the active lives of Henson puppets when they’re not performing in front of children. Happytime Murders is the happy result of that collaboration and we’re incredibly pleased with the early reaction to the film and how well the trailer has been received by its intended audience. While we’re disappointed that Sesame Street does not share in the fun, we are confident in our legal position. We look forward to introducing adult moviegoers to our adorably unapologetic characters this summer.
More on this as it develops.