STX Entertainment isn't playing around in its response to Sesame Workshop's lawsuit over its promotion for the upcoming Melissa McCarthy film "The Happytime Murders."
OK, so maybe they're playing around a little bit.
On Friday, a day after Sesame Workshop filed its trademark suit, alleging that the film's trailer "tarnishes" the Sesame brand with depictions of "explicit, profane, drug-using, misogynistic, violent, copulating, and even ejaculating puppets," STX responded with a statement from its representative in the matter, one Fred, Esq.
Who, it should be noted, is a puppet.
But while Fred, Esq., may be a puppet, he's not dancing on a string for anybody. In fact, he's very serious about pointing out that "The Happytime Murders" is directed by Muppets creator Jim Henson's son Brian Henson, and counts The Jim Henson Company's alternative banner Henson Alternative among its producers.
Fred is also "confident in our legal position."
"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," said Fred (pictured above). "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."
Sesame Workshop filed its suit in federal court in New York, taking exception to the trailer's tagline "NO SESAME. ALL STREET."
"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,'" the suit reads. "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."
According to a description of the film, "The Happytime Murders" involves "the puppet cast of an '80s children's TV show" that "begins to get murdered one by one," prompting "a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet" to take on the case.
In a statement provided to TheWrap on Friday, Sesame Workshop said that they "take no issue with the creative freedom of the filmmakers and their right to make and promote this movie, rather this is about how our name is being misused to market a film with which we have no association."
"Sesame Workshop, the nonprofit organization behind Sesame Street, learned last Friday that the name Sesame Street is being used to market a graphic, adult-themed movie. We were surprised and disappointed that Sesame Street, a show dedicated to educating young children, is being exploited to market this R-rated film," the statement reads. "We immediately contacted the film's distributor, STX Films, and requested that they remove our name from the film's marketing. They declined to do so. We take no issue with the creative freedom of the filmmakers and their right to make and promote this movie, rather this is about how our name is being misused to market a film with which we have no association. We regret that our fans and families have been confused by STX's marketing campaign."