Sesame Workshop, the makers of Sesame Street, have taken issue with a new R-rated comedy movie starring Melissa McCarthy featuring swearing puppets engaging in sex, violence and drug use.
The Happytime Murders is directed by Brian Henson, the son of Jim Henson, and who directed movies like The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island.
However this latest movie, featuring Muppet-esque puppet characters, is a rather more adult proposition.
It finds McCarthy’s Detective Connie Edwards and a puppet private investigator looking into a spate of puppet murders, and also stars Community‘s Joel McHale, Maya Rudolph, Elizabeth Banks and veteran Muppet performer Bill Barretta.
The first trailer (check it out below, but be warned, it is NSFW) was aired at the Las Vegas Comic Con event earlier this month, but now the makers of Sesame Street, the Sesame Street Workshop, are suing over unauthorised use of its name.
In the trailer, and on the movie’s poster, a tagline reads ‘No Sesame, All Street’, with the makers of the veteran children’s show claiming that it tarnishes its ‘brand and goodwill’ by association, and threatens ‘irreparable injury’ to the show’s reputation.
Via The Wrap, a court filing issued in New York last week reads: “Sesame seeks to enjoin Defendants’ deliberate effort to appropriate its SESAME STREET mark, and its trusted brand and goodwill, to promote their R-rated movie, The Happytime Murders, by way of a violent and sexually-explicit trailer.
“SESAME STREET is a registered trademark of Sesame, an organization with a long and storied history of ‘helping kids grow smarter, stronger and kinder.’”
It goes on: “Defendants’ widely-distributed marketing campaign features a just-released trailer with explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets, along with the tagline ‘NO SESAME. ALL STREET.’ Defendants do not own, control or have any right to use the SESAME STREET mark.
“Instead, they are distributing a trailer that 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.
“Sesame has worked for nearly 50 years to build, cultivate and maintain trust with its audience of parents and young children built on its reputation for wholesome educational programming.
“That trust, although built over a span of generations, is too easily lost and is now in jeopardy. Defendants threaten to inflict serious, irreparable damage to Sesame’s mark and brand by associating their adult movie with Sesame Street.”
Responding to the claims, a rep for STX Entertainment, the makers of the movie, said: “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.
“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.”
The film is due out August 17 in the UK.