Big Bird is heading to the movies. According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new big-screen adaptation of Sesame Street, PBS's long-running educational children's series, is in the works (if still scriptless). Sesame Street has tried films before: 1985's Follow That Bird and 1999's The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland, both of which were character-driven narrative vehicles. And last year, of course, The Muppets movie scored big by resurrecting a related children's franchise. Can Sesame Street exploit that same nostalgia?
Absolutely: Obviously, this Sesame Street project was inspired by The Muppets' success last year, says Ryan Gowland at Indie Wire. The producers are "trying to pull off the same kind of welcome nostalgia" that Kermit and Miss Piggy achieved. And the Sesame Street gang, which has won over generations of kids with a winning format and lovable cast of puppets, stands a real shot at accomplishing that goal. So watch out world: If they pull it off, "they'll have a potential family film franchise for years to come."
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But Elmo and the gang need to be updated: For this to work, a "brand makeover" is in order, says Amos Barshad at Grantland. The Muppets reboot worked because writer Jason Segel infused the characters with modern hipness. "One of the Muppets had an iPhone." It's time to shake things up on Sesame Street, too. Perhaps an historical story about how the characters arrived on the Street?
It could flop: The failures of the two previous big-screen versions of Sesame Street don't bode well, says Twirlit. The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland grossed a paltry $11 million in 1999, even though its budget was $26 million. "Yikes!" Excitement and nostalgia may not be enough to make this new film a shrewd move.
And the Muppets comparisons are flawed: Likening The Muppets to Sesame Street is like comparing your cool babysitter to your boring parents, says Caity Weaver at Gawker. "Both contribute something of value to your early development, but only one of them is perfect fodder for a hilarious movie." With its lack of winking humor, Sesame Street probably won't have the same success as The Muppets.
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