‘Sesame Street’ sues makers of raunchy puppet comedy ‘The Happytime Murders’

Lawrence Kim
May 28, 2018

In the heat of the raunchy puppet parody's no-holds-barred marketing campaign, Sesame Workshop has opted to sue STX Entertainment, the production company responsible for the Melissa McCarthy-led comedy film.

According to documents obtained by E! Couple that with puppets that are identified in the film's synopsis as working on a children's TV show, and who bear more than superficial resemblances to muppets used on Sesame Street, and a compelling case could be built that the trailer is creating genuine confusion among a segment of the audience.

The Happytime Murders uses the tagline "No Sesame, All Street".

"It is only [the] defendants" 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 complaint goes on to allege that "a parade of social media posts, emails and public comments" indicates that the tagline "has confused and appalled viewers because of what they believe to be a serious breach of trust by Sesame by supporting this movie".

The producers of the movie and distributor, STX Films, issued a tongue-in-cheek statement about the lawsuit Saturday evening, which was given by puppet Fred, Esq. along with his headshot.

But the movie is directed by the son of the late Muppets creator Jim Henson and is set in a fictional Los Angeles, where former stars of a children's puppet show are being gunned down for unknown reasons.

The Jim Henson Company also co-produced The Happytime Murders, but in an email included with the lawsuit, CEO Lisa Henson indicated her disapproval of how the film's characters were designed.

"Sesame Street" isn't all fun and games, if a lawsuit filed Thursday by its parent company, Sesame Workshop, is any indication. "We look forward to introducing adult moviegoers to our adorably unapologetic characters this summer".

Along with Melissa McCarthy, The Happytime Murders' cast includes Elizabeth Banks, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, Jimmy O. Yang, and Leslie David Baker.

A judge has scheduled a hearing next week to consider a request for immediate relief by Sesame Workshop, which sued in federal court in Manhattan for unspecified damages and an order forcing the film to be marketed differently.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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