The Muppets Studio
|The Muppets Holding Company|
|Limited liability company
wholly owned subsidiary
|Founded||February 14, 2004|
|Lylle Breier (SVP, Special Events)
Debbie McClellan (Vice President)
Bear in the Big Blue House
|Parent||The Walt Disney Studios
(The Walt Disney Company)
The Muppets Studio, LLC, formerly The Muppets Holding Company, LLC, is a wholly owned entertainment subsidiary of The Walt Disney Studios' special events group, formed in 2004 through The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House assets from The Jim Henson Company.
In the late-1980s, Jim Henson had been in talks with Disney CEO Michael Eisner to sell his company to Disney. In August 1989, the two officially announced a deal for Disney to buy Henson Associates (now known as The Jim Henson Company). The deal fell through several months after Jim Henson's death in 1990.
Despite the collapse of the merger deal, by 1992, Disney and Jim Henson Productions had already struck a number of deals:
- Exclusive domestic rights to Henson theme park attractions in the western U.S. until May 1994 plus 2 year unexclusively, including the design of two Muppet attractions at Walt Disney World
- Buena Vista licensed worldwide distribution rights to Henson's 300 hours of programming and a financing deal for up to 3 home video projects
- Certain cable television distribution rights for Disney Channel until 1997
- International distribution rights for existing TV programming in free broadcast, cable or pay-per-view markets
- Theatrical distribution for The Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island
- Dinosaurs co-production
Muppets Holding Company
Eisner, still interested in the Muppet properties, re-opened negotiations with the Hensons and announced the purchase of The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House assets from The Jim Henson Company for $75 million on February 17, 2004. The acquired Muppet assets were then placed into The Muppets Holding Company with Chris Curtin as general manager within Disney Consumer Products. A new website was launched in November 2004 and the Muppets made an appearance on the 2004 Christmas episode of Saturday Night Live.
The first Muppet production under complete Disney control, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, went into production immediately and aired on ABC in May 2005. On July 30, 2005 Animal and Pepe the King Prawn made appearance on The X Games 11 Preview show of All Access on ESPN2. While Bear first appeared under Disney's control in the reality show, Breakfast With Bear in 2005.
A fiftieth birthday tour for Kermit, "Kermit's World Tour" was planned with a leadership changes made just days before the tour began. The tour made its initial three stops before being canceled: Kermit, Texas, Johnson Space Center tour and cake with The Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall, NYC. Following Eisner's exit from the Disney company, new CEO Bob Iger removed the head of the Muppets Holding Company and several senior staff members hand-picked by Eisner. Since that time, the company has been attempting to define the role of The Muppets within the Disney corporate structure.
ABC, in October 2005, commissioned America's Next Muppet, a script and five script outlines, but ABC was reluctant to green light America's Next Muppet, and it never got out of the planning stage. Muppet Holding's new general manager instead licensed the Muppets out to TF1, a French television network, to produce Muppet TV in September 2006.
In 2006, the Muppets Holding Company was transferred from the Disney Consumer Products unit to The Walt Disney Studios with studio executives passing on oversight, the unit was placed in the special events group. In April 2007, the Muppets Holding Company changed its name to The Muppets Studio under new leadership by Special Events Group SVP Lylle Breier.
In 2013, Disney Theatrical Productions revealed that a show based on The Muppets was in active development and that a 15-minute show had been conducted by Thomas Schumacher to see how the technical components would work out. On April 3, 2015, a series of shorts named Muppets Moments premiered on Disney Junior. The series features conversations between the Muppets and young children. By April, Bill Prady was commissioned to write a script for a Muppet Show pilot with the title The Muppets.
- General manager
- Chris Curtin, 2004–2005
- Russell Hampton, 2005–May 2006
- Lylle Breier, Fall 2006–present
- Debbie McClellan
- Breakfast with Bear, 2005 reality show on Disney Channel
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, 2005
- Best of the Muppets CD, 2005
- Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony, 2005–2006
- The Muppet Show: Season One DVD, 2005
- Muppets Ahoy! stage show, 2005
- The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas CD, 2006
- Before You Leap, 2006
- Muppet Mobile Lab, Audio-animatronic figures at Disney theme parks, 2006–present
- The Muppet Show: Season Two DVD, 2007
- America's Next Muppet, a parody of reality TV shows (America's Next Top Model) to select the next Muppet, never got out of planning
- Muppet TV, a French 2006 hour long show on TF1 showing the Muppets run a TV station similar to the The Jim Henson Hour MuppeTelevision segment
- Studio DC: Almost Live, 2 specials, August 3, 2008 & October 2008, Disney Channel special featuring the Muppets and Disney Channel stars: Miley Cyrus, Ashley Tisdale and Jonas Brothers
- The Muppet Show: Season Three DVD, 2008
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa, 2008
- special skits on some ABC DVD releases (“Desperate Housepigs” on “Desperate Housewives” DVD)
- Muppet YouTube videos, 2008- 2010
- "Muppet Show Theme Song" music video from Muppets: The Green Album, 2011
- The Muppets, 2011
- Midship Detective Agency, 2012
- Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular, 2013
- Muppisodes, 2013-2014
- Muppets Most Wanted, 2014
- Disney Drive-On with the Muppets (August 1, 2014) 6 episodes on Disney Movies Anywhere
- Muppet Moments, 2015
- The Muppets, 2015
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