After being hit last week with a lawsuit by the creators of Sesame Street, Happytime Murders — Jim Henson Company and STX Entertainment’s potty-mouthed Muppet(ish) movie — is hitting back. And it sounds like their lawyer, Fred, Esq., is not a puppet you want to trife with (even though we're presuming his retainer is literally just a collection of strings).
In a statement released to SYFY WIRE, “Fred, Esq, lawyer puppet representing STX” responded to the suit, which claims that the film’s marketing campaign “seeks to capitalize on the reputation and goodwill of Sesame Street.”
According to STX’s puppet lawyer (pictured above):
“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.”
As seen in the Melissa McCarthy-headlined buddy-cop film’s totally not-safe-for-work red band trailer, Henson’s puppets get up to a whole lot of no-good when the kiddies aren’t around. And if that wasn’t enough for the Sesame Street folks to start feeling litigious, the tagline “No Sesame. All Street” apparently was.
The film is produced by the Jim Henson Company, with Jim’s son Brian directing and daughter Lisa exec producing. But while Jim Henson was responsible for a number of Sesame Street’s most famous puppets, he never had rights to the show’s title itself.
Still, Fred and those he represents feel confident in their legal position. And we’re guessing they feel pretty good about the publicity, too.
We’ll have to see how this all plays out though, as Happytime Murders approaches its Aug. 17 release date. Have a look at the trailer above and let us know if you’ll be able to look at Sesame Street the same way.