Jim Henson Company’s R-Rated Happytime Murders is Debating Human Cast.
Brian Henson spent the Labor Day weekend at DragonCon in Atlanta giving panels on puppeteering and the 30th anniversary of Labyrinth. In one panel he was asked what the most difficult project he’s worked on was, and he said the forthcoming Happytime Murders has been the most difficult to get through development. We had an interview with Henson to discuss Labyrinth and found out what has been the hold-up with Happytime Murders. Jamie Foxx has been rumored as the human star, and it may be the res of the human cast that remains up in the air.
“Right now there isn’t really a hold up which is very frustrating,” Henson said. “Everybody involved is very enthusiastic and it’s getting consensus and agreement on who the human actors should be in the movie. It’s in as good a place as it can be because everybody wants to make a movie, but it’s frustrating because everybody that needs to be involved, the distributors and marketers and financiers, everybody wants it made. It’s just trying to get agreement as to the human cast.”
Happytime Murders is a film noir detective murder mystery with humans and puppets.
Screenwriter Todd Berger completed a script around 2012/2013 and he said he was writing an R-rated movie. But even a completed script and distribution does not make Happytime Murders a go picture.
“There is no such thing as go anymore,” Henson said. “There’s no such thing as a green light. We always say you just start shooting, you still don’t have a green light. Those days are sort of gone where you have a clean green light. It’s been ready to go for a long time. The script is in fantastic condition. It’s the hardest to get it from development into production. It’s just been a really tough one to convince the financing entities to finance the movie. That’s all.”
When screenwriters write for the Henson Company, even going back to Terry Jones writing Labyrinth, the puppeteers don’t give notes. They let the writers tell the story they want to tell, and only when approaching production do they discuss any foreseeable limitations.
“Developing a script for a puppet movie is a long, long road,” Henson said. “Like any good script, the first thing you want to do is figure out the story and the structure of the story. You don’t really put hurdles int he way of that. You don’t say, ‘We can’t do that, we can’t do that’ or ‘we can do that.’ You sort of stay with that script until your story feels right and the structure feels right. Then when you’re rewriting for production, then you start adjusting everything for what puppets can do and can’t do and what puppets could do in this moment, better suggestions for things. There’s lots of production rewriting to figure that out.”
The Jim Henson Company is also developing a Fraggle Rock movie to potentially start Joseph Gordon-Levitt, but Lisa Henson is spearheading that film. “That’s really my sister Lisa’s movie and I’ll leave that for her to comment,” Brian said.
We’ll have the full interview with Brian Henson all about Labyrinth later in September, and a review of the new 30th anniversary Labyrinth Blu-ray. Labyrinth returns to theaters through Fathom Events on September 11 and 14 in a new