Step aside, Big Bird, The Happytime Murders has scored a swift legal victory over Sesame Street.
A federal judge in New York on Wednesday dismissed Sesame Workshop's lawsuit against the producers of The Happytime Murders, a raunchy puppet crime-comedy.
Sesame Street's parent company filed a lawsuit last week against STX Entertainment and The Jim Henson Company, objecting to the marketing of the R-rated film, which uses the tagline, "No Sesame. All Street." Sesame Workshop insisted the first trailer for The Happytime Murders "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 issued a statement denying the implied connection, attributed jokingly to puppet lawyer "Fred, Esq." U.S. District Judge Vernon Broderick agreed, ruling that STX can continue to use the tagline in its marketing of the film.
Following the decision, STX released a new statement, credited again to Fred, Esq.:
"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."
Puppet law has apparently paid off, as STX is now clear to continue its marketing campaign as planned, albeit with some additional free publicity.
Written by Todd Berger (The Smurfs: A Christmas Carol) and Dee Austin Robertson, director Brian Henson’s The Happytime Murders stars Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, Joel McHale, and Elizabeth Banks. The film hits theaters on August 17.