U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick on Wednesday said that STX can continue to use the tagline “No Sesame. All Street” in its marketing for the film, and rejected Sesame Workshop’s argument. Read details of the case below.
As it did Friday when the suit hit the courts, STX issued a statement on today’s ruling — attributed to one “Fred, Esq.” To wit:
“We fluffing love Sesame Street and we’re obviously very pleased that the ruling reinforced what STX’s intention was from the very beginning — to honor the heritage of The Jim Henson Company’s previous award-winning creations while drawing a clear distinction between any Muppets or Sesame Street characters and the new world Brian Henson and team created. We believe we accomplished that with the very straightforward NO SESAME, ALL STREET tagline. We look forward to continued happytimes as we prepare to release Happytime Murders this summer.”
Sesame Workshop has not responded to Deadline’s request for comment.
PREVIOUSLY, May 25: Calling in the Big Birds, Sesame Street‘s parent company has taken STX Productions to court to stop being blatantly associated with marketing of the “explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent” film The Happytime Murders, which stars Melissa McCarthy and is directed by one of Jim Henson’s family members.
With the tale of puppets from the cast of a 1980s TV show being knocked off one after another, the Brian Henson-helmed flick is set to come out this summer – but not if Sesame Workshop has anything to say about it. The bosses of the long-running PBS-turned-HBO children’s series filed a jury trial-seeking complaint Thursday, and today a federal judge moved the company closer to getting the temporary restraining order it seeks by setting a May 30 hearing in NYC.
And with a beloved brand trying to protect itself, Sesame Workshop looked well positioned to get its wish.
“Sesame has demanded that Defendants simply drop the references to Sesame Street from The Happytime Murders marketing materials – a relatively small burden compared to the devastating and irreparable injury Defendants are causing,” the May 24 complaint states (read it here). “But Defendants have refused, and the confusion and tarnishment are building, as evidenced in numerous social media postings.”
Now, if you aren’t familiar with the language and imagery in this movie, check out the redband trailer below — but please move any Sesame Street-loving kids away from the computer or risk spending tens of thousands of dollars on therapy:
What makes this more of Sesame Street civil war is that the pic and its new characters were developed with the full on force of the Henson family – the children of the man who created so many of the iconic Sesame Street puppets decades ago. Not only is Brian Henson the director of Happytime Murders but he is the chairman of The Jim Henson Company and a voiceover alum of a number Muppets projects.
Now, you get a further sense of why Sesame Workshop might be a little sensitive and not find the joke funny.
“Sesame seeks an injunction that forces Defendants to cease and desist their trading upon the goodwill associated with Sesame Street in furtherance of box office receipts,” the filing goes to slam STX with, noting the down-and-dirty ethos of the pic and the “No Sesame, All Street” tagline it’s using. “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.”
That’s real Snuffleupagus stuff.
But wait — there’s more. Check out STX’s response to the suit, credited to one “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,” the company says via Fred. “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.”
Which is a nice way of saying: “Life’s like a movie. Write your own ending” to quote Kermit.
Sesame Workshop is represented by a team of lawyers from New York’s Friedman Kaplan Seiler & Adelman LLP.