Brian Henson’s R-Rated Puppet Crime Movie Gets a Second Chance
For years now, the Jim Henson Company has been working on getting a very different kind of puppet movie to the big screen. Brian Henson has gotten a second chance at making The Happytime Murders, which has been in various stages of development since 2008. Described as Avenue Q meets L.A. Confidential, The Happytime Murders has been one of the trickier projects to get off the ground, but the son of the late, legendary Jim Henson may have better luck this time around.
THR reports that STX Entertainment is partnering with the Jim Henson Company to put the film back in development, although it may be undergoing a title change. The puppet noir movie landed on the Black List in 2008 before Lionsgate picked it up in 2010, but Henson and the studio struggled to find the right human counterparts for the film, which blends real actors with puppets.
The screenplay has gone through a few iterations before arriving at the most recent version, penned by Red and Red 2 writers Erich and Jon Hoeber. Currently untitled, the dark puppet project — like The Muppets films — takes place in a world where humans and puppets both live. A former LAPD puppet detective now working as a private investigator is tasked with solving a series of murders involving the puppet stars of the 1980s children’s show The Happytime Gang. The alcoholic puppet detective turns to his former human partner for help with the case.
The film definitely has an air of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? about it, combining a detective story with characters who are both human and not. It definitely doesn’t sound like the easiest project to develop — there’s a lot of elements that have to be executed well in order for this thing to work, but Who Framed Roger Rabbit? also had a bumpy production history before ultimately delivering a classic.
Brian Henson is still planning to direct the newly untitled puppet crime project.