EXCLUSIVE: Talk about a good marriage of brands — Walden Media and Jim Henson Co. have joined together to develop and produce a new family-friendly film project called Happy Krampus! This will be a fully live-action project and is based on an original idea by Kealan O’Rourke (The Boy In The Bubble). The story follows Santa’s forgotten helper and giver of coal to naughty children (Krampus) – who has lost his job at the North Pole due to modern parents spoiling their children. To prove to the world that he is still needed, Krampus travels to New York where his plan to replace Christmas with Krampus Day. It is up to Krampus and his new friends to save Christmas from himself.

frank-smithO’Rourke will pen the latest project for Walden and Henson. Both companies have taken different turns in the past year, and from a business standpoint, both could prove to be very prudent. Walden, under the stewardship of Frank Smith, has become more diverse in the types of films they are producing. They bow this September with the anticipated action-adventure movie Everest starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Keira Knightly, Jason Clarke and Josh Brolin. At the same time, they have stayed true to their roots, having also paired with Steven Spielberg on the kid-friendly The BFG directed by the master himself. That film, which stars Bill Hader and Rebecca Hall, was adapted from the Roald Dahl novel by screenwriter Melissa Mathison. It will receive a big summer 2016 splash with a release on July 1.

lisa_hensonJim Henson Co. recently paired with STX Entertainment to do a live-action, puppet film with a twist — they are not worried about going a bit raucous or getting an R rating. In fact, the comedy is expected to. This is the company that was behind Disney’s family friendly Alexander And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day. They also have Fraggle Rock in development at New Regency as well as the animated films Frog and Toad and Which Witch. Lisa Henson runs the company that bears her father’s name.

Both companies are led by executives with great family sensibilities as well as an understanding of the ever changing movie marketplace and audiences. The switch for both of them into more edgy territory is seen as a smart move.

This new project Happy Krampus is not to be confused with Krampus, the Universal and Legendary horror/comedy pic which is set to be released November 25. That project is about a pagan demon who punishes wicked children.

Naia Cucukov, VP of Development and Production, will oversee the project on behalf of Walden Media. Blanca Lista, VP of Feature Film Production, will oversee on behalf of The Jim Henson Company.

O’Rourke is represented by CAA and Circle of Confusion.