“B” is for blockbuster! According to The Hollywood Reporter, 20th Century Fox has acquired the rights to the beloved and iconic children’s show Sesame Street. The film will be the first Sesame Street film of the 21st Century: the fuzzy cast has previously appeared in two other feature films, 1985’s Follow That Bird and 1999’s The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Joey Mazzarino, a writer and performer on Sesame Street since 1990, will write the script. Shawn Levy will produce.
Sesame Street has aired on PBS since 1969. Wildly successful, the show has won 138 Emmys over the years and garnered a massive audience. Nearly 75 million Americans have grown up singing along to the “Alphabet Song” with Big Bird and Elmo. By 2006, Sesame Street was the most widely viewed television show in the world, boasting 20 independent international versions of the show that have broadcast in over 120 countries.
Though the characters on Sesame Street are popular themselves, Fox may be hoping to capitalize on the recent success of another group of adorable and iconic felt characters: The Muppets. Actor and writer Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) helped resurrect Jim Henson’s beloved gang last year in the feature film The Muppets, which grossed $148 million worldwide. (Songwriter and Flight of Conchords bandmember Bret McKenzie also won an Oscar for the song “Man or Muppet” featured in Segel’s film.)
Many of the best-known characters on Sesame Street are also Jim Henson creations — Big Bird, Bert and Ernie, Grover, Oscar the Grouch, Cookie Monster and Elmo among them. Kids and parents will certainly see the new movie, but, riding on the coattails of The Muppets, perhaps the Sesame Street movie will attract nostalgic Henson fans too.
We can probably expect plenty of celebrities to sign onto the project: You have not made it as a pop icon until you’ve visited Sesame Street and received a patented Elmo hug. And we can bet that if there is a protagonist in the film, it will be that fuzzy red three-year-old monster who refers to himself in the third person. Last year’s documentary Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey—which chronicled the life of Elmo’s puppeteer, Kevin Clash, as he and Elmo rose to international superstardom—earned critical and popular acclaim. Plus, Elmo is by far the most popular character on the show, and — fun fact — the only non-human to testify before U.S. Congress. (He urged Congress to increase funding for music education in April 2002.)
There’s going to be a Sesame Street film. It’s a sunny day.