The long-gestating Happytime Murders has finally been given a release date by STX Entertainment. The project has been in development with the Jim Henson Company since 2008 and has only recently been confirmed for production. Now, movie-goers can be sure of a viewing in 2018.
Originally envisaged as an offbeat parody of classic noir, as well as LA Confidential and Pulp Fiction, Happytime Murders will feature familiar Henson touches of irreverence and presents a twist on the detective genre. Sounding like a variation of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the story takes place in a world where puppets are a minority, living among humans. A hard-boiled puppet detective and his human counterpart are forced to solve a string of killings that's decimating the cast of The Happytime Gang, who are puppets in a popular children's show that's a ratings winner in this alternate universe. The project has gone through a string of changes since it was first announced. Lionsgate picked it up in 2010, and even announced the involvement of Cameron Diaz. However, development was stalled until STX Entertainment took the rights for filming in 2015.
According to Deadline, the studio has now dated the film for Aug. 17, 2018, with production expected to begin shortly. It was previously announced back in May that Happytime Murders will star Melissa McCarthy, as the human half of the buddy-cop pairing. The production is being directed by Brian Henson (Muppet Treasure Island), who is also chairman of the Jim Henson company.
Although it's easy to think that the film could be an in-house parody of The Muppets, previous press notes and hints from the Henson company point to a harder-edged project, and quite possibly an R-rated one. It's likely to be closer in spirit to Death To Smoochy and other satirical takes on puppet shows, rather than the straightforward homage and slapstick of Who Framed Roger Rabbit - although it's unlikely to reach the excesses of Meet The Feebles (Peter Jackson's chaotic take on puppetry).
McCarthy has worked with STX before on projects like Bridesmaids, and box-office figures from films like Spy still mark her out to be a name that can open a film. Her blend of sarcastic wit and slapstick should be a good fit for the film, and the dedication to the project by the Henson company shows that there's definitely been some serious thought and development behind the scenes. There are no other details concerning the rest of the cast or any voice-actors, but when further news is made available we 'll let you know.
- The Happytime Murders (2018) release date: Aug 24, 2018