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Sesame street set sign

Anne Hathaway in The Intern (also from WB).

Jonathan Krisel

Jonathan Krisel was attached to direct in 2018.

An untitled Sesame Street movie has been in development since at least 2012. It would be the third feature film following Follow That Bird in 1985 and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland in 1999.

Development history

On June 19, 2012, The Hollywood Reporter announced that a new Sesame Street movie was in the works to be produced by 20th Century Fox. Shawn Levy (Night at the Museum) was set to produce from a script by head Sesame Street writer Joey Mazzarino.[1] The article also listed Michael Aguilar (Unaccompanied Minors), Mark Gordon (Grey's Anatomy, Saving Private Ryan) and Guymon Casady (Game of Thrones) as producers.

In April 2015, The Tracking Board reported that the film had moved to Warner Bros. with Levy now directing as well as producing. The move to another studio prompted a search for new screenwriters who would center the script around an adventure set in New York City.[2]

One year later, Levy signed on to direct a remake of Starman, leaving the Sesame Street movie without a director.[3] Since the time of the initial announcement, Mazzarino had also moved on from Sesame Workshop, leaving the project without a writer.

In November 2016, Levy, promoting the release of Arrival (with Amy Adams), noted that he was still developing a Sesame Street movie at Warner Bros. On November 15th, Deadline reported that screenwriters had been found in David Guion and Michael Handelman (who had worked together on The Ex, Dinner for Schmucks, and Night at the Museum 3), with Mark Gordon still attached to produce, as well as Jesse Ehrman (This Is Where I Leave You with Tina Fey and Jason Bateman).[4]

In September 2018, Variety reported that Jonathan Krisel, director and co-creator of the show Portlandia, was attached to direct, with Levy still producing. The article also mentioned that the film is set to be a musical, and that there have been multiple scripts drafted; the first by Mike Rosolio with a later version by Chris Galletta.[5]

Collider reported in December 2018, that Anne Hathaway was being considered for the role of Sally in the film.[6] In February of 2019, Hathaway's involvement was confirmed by Krisel β€” still attached to direct; mentioned also as the movie's writer now β€” in an article for The Hollywood Reporter. The article reiterated the project's intention as a musical and added that the plot would take inspiration from a line in the "Sesame Street Theme" β€” "Can you tell me how to get to Sesame Street?" β€” "with characters getting lost in NYC and trying to find their way back to Sesame Street." Filming was expected to begin in late summer 2019.[7]

In March 2019, the film's release date of January 15, 2021 was officially announced. Variety also reported that MGM would be co-financing the film.[8]

In June 2019, Deadline reported that Bo Burnham had been recruited to write songs for the film. In addition to reporting that the current draft of the film was written by Barry Schwartz, the outlet also detailed the plot of the film:

β€œBig Bird and his Sesame Street friends are mysteriously expelled from their neighborhood, finding themselves in Manhattan. They team up with a plucky history show host Sally Hawthorne who’s on a quest to save her show and prove that Sesame Street actually exists, with obstacles created by the β€œevil” Mayor, with reasons of his own for keeping Sesame Street hidden from the world.[9]”

The Wrap reported in June 2019 that filming would begin in April of 2020, setting it back nine months from its original production start which was to have been July 2019. Their sources referenced a change in Hathaway's schedule on a remake of The Witches as the reason for the delay[10] (which wrapped production in September 2019).[11]

The following month, The Wrap reported that the film's debut had been pushed back five months to a summer release on June 4, 2021.[12]

The Hollywood Reporter announced in December 2019 that the release date had been pushed back yet again by another seven months to January 14, 2022.[13][14]

In March 2020, Collider published an exclusive report that Chance the Rapper was in negotiations to appear in a featured role in the film, playing the Mayor's aide.[15]

Production was set to begin in April 2020, but was postponed indefinitely due to the COVID-19 outbreak.[16]

Levy, still attached as a producer, offered an update on the project in August 2021 while promoting the Ryan Reynolds-starring film Free Guy, noting that changes to the industry from Covid had prompted discussions about the project moving from WB as a theatrical release to HBO Max as a streaming exclusive.[17]

While promoting her film Eileen at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2023, Hathaway was asked about the movie and says "It hasn't happened yet. I hope it does."[18]


  1. ↑ The Hollywood Reporter "Sesame Street Movie in the Works from Fox" by Borys Kit, June 19, 2012
  2. ↑ The Tracking Board "Warner Bros. Picks Up Sesame Street Movie From Fox With Shawn Levy Directing" April 15, 2015
  3. ↑ The Hollywood Reporter "Starman Remake In the Works With Director Shawn Levy" by Borys Kit, April 1, 2016
  4. ↑ Deadline "Can You Spell David Guion & Michael Handelman?" by Mike Fleming Jr, November 15, 2016
  5. ↑ Variety "Sesame Street Movie Taps Portlandia Co-Creator Jonathan Krisel as Director" by Justin Kroll, September 28, 2018
  6. ↑ Collider "Exclusive: Anne Hathaway Eyed to Star in WB’s Sesame Street Movie" by Jeff Sneider, December 4, 2018
  7. ↑ The Hollywood Reporter "Sesame Street Movie's Writer-Director Reveals Plot Details" by Borys Kit and Bryn Elise Sandberg, Feb 6, 2019
  8. ↑ Variety "Sesame Street Live-Action Movie Set for 2021" by Dave McNary, March 12, 2019
  9. ↑ Deadline "Bo Burnham Gets To Sesame Street, Will Pen Songs For Warner Bros. Movie" by Anthony D'Alessandro, June 10, 2019
  10. ↑ The Wrap "Anne Hathaway’s Sesame Street Film Shoot Pushed Back 9 Months" by Beatrice Verhoeven, June 13, 2019
  11. ↑ Bloody Disgusting "The Witches Synopsis Promises a Visually Innovative Retelling" by Brad Miska, September 5, 2019
  12. ↑ The Wrap Sesame Street Movie With Anne Hathaway Pushed to Summer 2021 by Brian Welk, July 16, 2019
  13. ↑ The Hollywood Reporter "Warner Bros pushed Sesame Street pic from June 2021 to early winter 2022" by Pamela McClintock and Borys Kit, December 12, 2019
  14. ↑ THR's @Borys_Kit Dec 12, 2019
  15. ↑ Collider Exclusive: Chance the Rapper in Talks to Join β€˜Sesame Street’ Movie by Brian Welk, March 3, 2020
  16. ↑ Museum of the Moving Image: Jim Henson's World: Live Trivia with Craig Shemin April 11, 2020
  17. ↑ Collider "Shawn Levy on WB's Sesame Street Movie and Renegotiating Deals for Streamers" by Jeff Sneider, August 4, 2021
  18. ↑ Collider "Anne Hathaway Offers Sesame Street Movie Update" by Perri Nemiroff, January 28, 2023