From the Hollywood Reporter
The long-in-development puppet project "Happytime Murders" is getting another shot at the big screen.
STX Entertainment, the new film and television studio, has partnered with Jim Henson Company on the project, which is currently untitled, and put it in active development.
Henson has been developing the Black List script since 2008 and in 2010 set up the dark comedy at Lionsgate.
But trying to find human star in the adult-themed hybrid puppet-human story proved too tricky and the rights reverted back to Henson.
Happytime takes place in a world where humans and puppets coexist, with the puppets viewed as second-class citizens. When the puppet cast of 1980s children's TV show The Happytime Gang begins to get murdered one by one, a disgraced LAPD detective-turned-private eye puppet — with a drinking problem, no less — takes the case with his former human partner.
The tone was originally envisioned as Avenue Q meets L.A. Confidential.
Todd Berger and Dee Robertson wrote the initial drafts but the latet script is by Erich and Jon Hoeber, the brothers who wrote Red and Red 2.
Brian Henson remains on board to direct the feature.
Apparently the team at STX fell in love with the script. Brian Henson, who will direct the project, noted that the movie will “take puppets to a place where we have never gone before on the big screen.
We are thrilled that Adam Fogelson and his folks at STX showed the daring confidence to get behind this project.” The story follows puppet stars of an iconic TV show The Happytime Gang who are some of the biggest celebrities around. But off camera, the family-friendly cast leads the kinds of lives that would make a tabloid writer blush. When the stars of The Happytime Gang begin to be mysteriously murdered, two mismatched detectives – one a type-A, take-no-prisoners human with a secret, and the other a crass, hard-drinking puppet with a connection to one of the victims – must put aside their huge differences to stop the killings and catch the culprit … all the while trying to resist the temptation to murder each other.
This project at STX is different than some of the others that it has put into place in that it seems ripe for merchandising/licensing and promotions. Sounds like the marketing department is going to have a good time on this one.
“This is as unique a screenplay as we have seen in a long time, with relatable characters and a fantastic story,” said Fogelson, who is chairman of the STX Entertainment Motion Picture Group. “This project is a daring and original R-rated comedy with a distinctive voice that is completely unconventional and fun.”