The Muppets Studio
|The Muppets Holding Company (2004–2007)|
|Founded||February 14, 2004|
|David Lightbody (Vice President)|
Bear in the Big Blue House
Number of employees
|Parent||Disney Parks, Experiences and Products|
(The Walt Disney Company)
The Muppets Studio, LLC, formerly The Muppets Holding Company, LLC, is a wholly owned entertainment subsidiary of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, formed in 2004 through The Walt Disney Company's acquisition of The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House intellectual properties from The Jim Henson Company.
In the late-1980s, Jim Henson had been in talks with Disney CEO Michael Eisner to sell Jim Henson Productions to the Walt Disney Company. In August 1989, the two officially announced a deal for Disney to purchase Jim Henson Productions for $150 million. 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 non-exclusively, including the design of two Muppet attractions at Walt Disney World
- Buena Vista Home Video's 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 (1992) and Muppet Treasure Island (1996)
- Dinosaurs co-production
- In 1996, the Jim Henson Company produced Muppets Tonight for ABC, which had just been acquired by Disney.
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. One of the first appearances that the Muppets made after the purchase was on the TV special The Nick and Jessica Variety Hour in April 2004, starring Nick Lachey and Jessica Simpson. 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 full 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. Bear's first appearance under Disney's control was in the reality show, Breakfast With Bear in 2005.
A fiftieth birthday tour for Kermit, "Kermit's World Tour" was planned with 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 Disney, new CEO Bob Iger removed the head of the Muppets Holding Company and several senior staff members hand-picked by Eisner. The Muppets Holding Company was then paired with Baby Einstein (before it was acquired by Kids II, Inc. in 2013) under Senior Vice President and General Manager R. Russell Hampton, Jr.
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.
The Muppets Studio
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. That same year, Disney contracted with Puppet Heap to rebuild, maintain, and create puppet characters for the Muppets Studio. 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 2008, The Muppets Studio began a licensing agreement with F.A.O. Schwarz to create a Muppet-themed boutique where customers can design their own Muppet. 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.
The company was transferred in 2014 to Disney's new media unit, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, specifically DCPI Labs. 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 new Muppets pilot with the title The Muppets. A reboot of the Muppets is rumored as of February 21, 2018, for the new streaming service Disney+.
- General manager
- Chris Curtin, 2004–2005
- Russell Hampton, 2005–May 2006
- Lylle Breier, Fall 2006–2010
- Kyle Laughlin, 2014–2019
- Debbie McClellan, 2004–2019
- David Lightbody, 2019–present
- Breakfast with Bear reality show (2005) Disney Channel
- The Muppets' Wizard of Oz (2005)
- Best of the Muppets CD (2005)
- Statler and Waldorf: From the Balcony (2005–2006)
- Muppets Ahoy! stage show (2005) on Disney Wonder
- The Muppet Show Seasons 1-3 DVD releases (2005, 2007 and 2008) (Seasons 4 and 5 have yet to be released.)
- The Muppets: A Green and Red Christmas CD (2006)
- Before You Leap (2006)
- Muppet Mobile Lab (2006–present) Audio-animatronic figures at Disney theme parks
- Muppet TV (2006) TF1; a French hour long show with the Muppets run a TV station similar to 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
- A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa (2008)
- special skits on some ABC DVD releases (“Desperate Housepigs” on “Desperate Housewives” DVD)
- Muppet YouTube videos (2008–2018)
- The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora (2010)
- The Muppets (2011)
- Lady Gaga and the Muppets' Holiday Spectacular, 2013
- Muppisodes (2013–2014) online
- Muppets Most Wanted (2014)
- Disney Drive-On with the Muppets (August 1, 2014) 6 episodes on Disney Movies Anywhere
- Muppet Moments short series (2015) Disney Junior
- The Muppets (2015–2016) ABC
- The Muppets Present...Great Moments in American History (2016–2019) Live puppet show at Magic Kingdom
- Muppet Babies (2018–present) Disney Junior
- Muppets Now (2020) Disney+
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- Goldberg, Lesley (April 3, 2015). "'Muppets' Revived at ABC With 'Big Bang Theory' Co-Creator". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved April 6, 2015.
- Barnes, Brooks (18 September 2008). "Fuzzy Renaissance". The New York Times. Retrieved 29 December 2012.
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- [unreliable source?]
- Jim, Hill (April 29, 2007). "Monday MouseWatch : Will the third time be the charm with Disney's Muppet revival project?". jimhillmedia.com. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- "Disney's plan to relaunch the Muppets". Muppet Central.com. AP. May 19, 2005. Retrieved 20 February 2013.
- Cave, Steve. "THE MUPPETS GET A TASTE OF THE X GAMES". About Sports. About.com. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Crosby, Sherry Joe (November 25, 2013). "When a Bear Comes to Breakfast". Daily News. Los Angeles, CA: HighBeam Research. Archived from the original on June 10, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- Suddath, Claire (September 17, 2015). "Meep Meep TV". Bloomberg Businessweek. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- Schneider, Michael (2005-10-25). "Muppets pull strings at ABC". Variety. Retrieved 2007-09-24.
- "'Muppets' may return to primetime TV". USA Today. AP. October 25, 2005. Retrieved February 24, 2015.
- James, Alison (September 17, 2006). "Les Muppets on a French roll". Variety. Retrieved November 25, 2013.
- Cox, Gordon (June 11, 2013). "Disney Theatrical Eyeing Muppets On Stage". Variety. Retrieved June 12, 2013.
- "Kyle Laughlin". disneyconsumerproducts.com. Disney Consumer Products. Archived from the original on September 29, 2015. Retrieved September 29, 2015.
- Kelley, Seth (March 17, 2015). "Kermit Talks to Kids in Disney Junior's 'Muppet Moments'". Variety. Retrieved March 19, 2015.
- Goldberg, Lesley (February 21, 2018). "Disney Planning Another 'Muppets' Reboot for Its Streaming Service". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- Jarvey, Natalie (January 19, 2018). "BAMTech Taps Apple Veteran to Lead Disney OTT". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 9, 2018.
- (July 25, 2008) Miley Cyrus meets the Muppets in Disney Channel special. Variety. Variety Media, LLC.
- Grow, Kory. (October 18, 2013) Lady Gaga to Celebrate Thanksgiving With the Muppets. Rolling Stone (Wenner Media).
- Graser, Marc (6 December 2013). "Watch: The Muppets Star in New Series of 'Muppisodes'". Variety. Retrieved 8 December 2013.
- Graser, Marc (August 1, 2014). "Disney Launches The Muppets Digital Series". Variety. Retrieved February 25, 2015.
- Wagmeister, Elizabeth (7 May 2015). "'The Muppets,' Comedy from 'Community' Star Ken Jeong Among ABC Orders". Variety. Retrieved 7 May 2015.
- Deitchman, Beth (October 3, 2016). "The Muppets Make History at Magic Kingdom Park". Disney D23. Retrieved October 8, 2016.
- Holloway, Daniel (October 26, 2016). "'Muppet Babies' Reboot Begins Production at Disney Junior". Variety. Retrieved October 26, 2016.
- Goldberg, Lesley (August 23, 2019). "'Muppets' Shortform Series a Go at Disney+". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 24, 2019.