The creators of Sesame Street don’t want to have a hand in Melissa McCarthy’s new movie The Happytime Murders.
The Sesame Workshop is suing the production company behind the R-rated film, which was directed by Brian Henson, the son of Sesame Street puppeteer Jim Henson, claiming the raunchy movie could cause “irreparable injury” to the show’s brand, according to a lawsuit obtained by The Blast.
In their complaint, the Sesame Street creators claim that the film’s tagline, “No Sesame, All Street,” leads audiences to believe there is a connection to the show.
The film’s trailer, the say, “deliberately confuses consumers into mistakenly believing that Sesame is associated with, has allowed, or has even endorsed or produced the movie and tarnishes Sesame’s brand.”
In response, STX Entertainment, the production company behind The Happytime Murders, issued a statement from lawyer puppet 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,” Fred said, on behalf of STX.
“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,” his statement continued.
In their complaint, the Sesame Street creators say their show has spent 50 years building its “reputation for wholesome educational programming,” while the trailer for the new film depicts “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets.”
According to the complaint, the film’s explicit content “diluted and defiled Sesame’s beloved Sesame Street children’s television show.”
The film’s logline describes the movie as “a filthy comedy set in the underbelly of Los Angeles where puppets and humans coexist.” McCarthy stars as a detective who teams up with a puppet private eye to track down a serial killer.
The movie has earned substantial buzz, with the R-rated trailer wracking up nearly 1.7 million views on YouTube.
Despite describing the film as “indescribably crude,” the complaint makes clear that Sesame Street is not trying to stop the movie from hitting theaters. “It is only [the filmmaker’s] deliberate choice to invoke and commercially misappropriate Sesame’s name and goodwill in marketing the movie – and thereby cause consumers to conclude that Sesame is somehow associated with the movie – that has infringed on and tarnished the Sesame Street mark and goodwill.”
The show’s creators are asking that the film pull its advertising, in addition to unspecified damages.
The Happytime Murders, also starring Joel McHale and Elizabeth Banks, is set to hit theaters Aug. 17.