If you’ve been a child at one point over the last, say, 50 years you may have fond memories of learning what the alphabet is thanks to Sesame Street and learning how hard it can be to catch mice with elaborate devices from Tom and Jerry cartoons. Both are cemented as classics of children’s television, and after making one or two big-screen leaps are getting the 21st Century treatment with new movies officially announced for 2021.
As for SESAME, Word on the street is that Warner Bros. and MGM are co-financing the family musical featuring the iconic puppets from the long-running children’s show. Set to be directed by Jonathan Krisel (PORTLANDIA), Shawn Levy (NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM) and Michael Aguilar are producing, with a current draft of the script written by Chris Galletta (KINGS OF SUMMER). The movie will bring in the new year on January 15, 2021, and reports are saying Anne Hathaway is in talks to lead the musical, with Jim Henson creations Big Bird, Elmo, Oscar the Grouch, Bert, Ernie and more set to make up the no doubt highly-paid puppet cast. Production is set to begin in June.
Then there’s TOM AND JERRY, which will be a hybrid of animation and live action (ALVIN AND THE CHIPMUNKS, YOGI BEAR) that is set for a few months later on April 16, 2021, and will be directed by Tim Story (THE FANTASTIC FOUR movies). Not much else is known about this project as there is SESAME, but that could change soon if they want to begin production sometime this year.
Both of these titles have firm roots in television history, with the former once a staple of the PBS lineup but has since moved over to HBO in recent years, where you can watch it after binging GAME OF THRONES or THE WIRE. Then there’s TOM AND JERRY, which was introduced in 1940 and is part of the massive library of Hanna-Barbara cartoons that include THE FLINSTONES, SCOOBY-DOO and more. Each series have received theatrical movies in the past, but none this century, the most recent for either property being ELMO IN GROUCHLAND in 1999.
Obviously, these movies aren’t going to be quite meant for me, but they should be fun for parents or grandparents who want to share an experience with their kids that they both may have roots in. Even though it was well over 50 years old when I was a child, I remember watching seemingly endless T&J cartoons and even threw in few episodes of SESAME to keep up on current events. The SESAME project sounds a bit more ambitious than a T&J movie, but maybe that’s just because the latter calls to mind movies like THE SMURFS. Oh, the horror.