Short of Jason Segel being given a thirty million dollar budget to write and direct the movie version of the puppet Dracula opera in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, nothing is capable of rivaling the premise for Happytime Murders.
Happytime Murders is a dark comedy that depicts an alternate reality where puppets are sentient beings that live alongside humans. The puppets exist as “second class citizens” to the humans, and when the cast of an 80s puppet TV show, “The Happytime Gang”, begin to turn up dead, an alcoholic ex-cop puppet turned private detective (yep) must solve the murders with his human ex-partner.
Lionsgate has acquired the film, which was written by Todd Berger and is to be directed by Brian Henson (Jim’s son), who will also co-produce with his sister Lisa. THR reports that Jim Henson Co. has been developing the project since 2008. They are now looking at a start as early as January.
The proposed film is equal parts risk and potential. Children’s icons mixed with adult themes can make for really interesting films – like Danny DeVito’s deliciously dark comedy, Death To Smoochy. Films like these are not always particularly successful at the box office, however. Though some of us love and appreciate the film, Death To Smoochy was not popular with most audiences, and grossed a mere $8 million in worldwide theatrical sales.
Who Framed Roger Rabbit was a film that had a premise similar to Happytown Murders and was a massive box office and critical success; earning three academy awards and approximately $329 million in worldwide theatrical sales. It is all about the execution.
Roger Rabbit had a decidedly lighthearted feel, though it dealt with murder and intrigue. One can only speculate on the ultimate tone of Happytown Murders, but the core idea leaves me anxiously awaiting the final film.
There is also a more traditional Muppet movie currently in pre-production tentatively titled, The Greatest Muppet Movie Ever Made (Or Of All Time, Depending); this actually written by Jason Segal. With a sequel to The Dark Crystal (titled The Power Of The Dark Crystal) also in the works, Jim Henson Co. and The Muppets are positioned to take over the world. Oh, and did I mention that there is another adult-themed puppet movie in the works? If you haven’t heard of We R Animals be sure to check that out too.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter