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The Muppets Take Manhattan

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The Muppets Take Manhattan
Theatrical release poster
Directed byFrank Oz
Screenplay by
Story by
  • Tom Patchett
  • Jay Tarses
Produced byDavid Lazer
CinematographyRobert Paynter
Edited byEvan Lottman
Music byRalph Burns
Henson Associates
Delphi II Productions
Distributed byTri-Star Pictures
Release date
  • July 13, 1984 (1984-07-13)
Running time
94 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
Budget$8 million[2]
Box office$25.5 million[3][4]

The Muppets Take Manhattan is a 1984 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Frank Oz and the third theatrical film featuring the Muppets. The film stars Muppet performers Jim Henson, Oz, Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Richard Hunt, Jerry Nelson, as well as special appearances by Art Carney, James Coco, Dabney Coleman, Gregory Hines, Linda Lavin, Liza Minnelli, Joan Rivers, and Brooke Shields. Filmed in New York City during the prior summer, it was released theatrically on July 13, 1984, by TriStar Pictures. A fantasy sequence in the film introduced the Muppet Babies, toddler versions of the lead Muppet characters.

Muppets Take Manhattan was the first film to be directed solely by Oz, who previously co-directed The Dark Crystal with Henson. The film received mostly positive reviews from critics with praise for its puppetry, humor, songs and characters but criticism for some of its writing. The film was also a box office success grossing $25.5 million on a budget of $8 million.


The Muppets perform their theatrical production of Manhattan Melodies for their graduating class at Danhurst College, and encouraged by the audience's enthusiastic response, decide to take the show to Broadway, certain they will become instant stars. Arriving in Manhattan, the group meet producer Martin Price, but are interrupted by the police, who have arrived to arrest him as a wanted con artist, whose real name is Murray Plotsky. The Muppets try other producers to no avail, depleting both their morale and their finances. Thinking they are becoming a burden to Kermit when he snaps at them, the rest of the Muppets agree to go their separate ways to find work, though Miss Piggy secretly remains in Manhattan to keep an eye on Kermit. Though disappointed by the development, Kermit vows to make the show a hit and enlists the assistance of diner owner Pete, his aspiring fashion designer daughter Jenny, and the diner's staff of rats led by Rizzo.

Kermit's attempts to promote the show fail, while he learns from letters received from his friends that Scooter manages a Cleveland, Ohio movie theater; Fozzie has joined some other bears hibernating in Maine but can't sleep; Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem have a gig in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, performing in a retirement home; Gonzo and Camilla are trying to make a successful water skiing act in Michigan; and Rowlf is working at a dog kennel in Delaware. In Central Park, Jenny comforts Kermit about his setbacks, while an envious Piggy watches. While she is distracted, Piggy's purse is stolen but she gives chase and, in the ensuing chaos, reunites with Kermit, and takes a job at Pete's.

Kermit receives a letter from producer Bernard Crawford, who is interested in the musical. However, Kermit discovers the letter was actually written by his son Ronnie, who is eager to prove himself as a producer and believes that Manhattan Melodies is a worthwhile endeavor. His father reluctantly agrees to support him. Thrilled, Kermit heads back to the diner but is so distracted that he walks into oncoming traffic and is struck by a passing taxi.

Piggy summons the rest of the Muppets back to New York, only to discover that Kermit has disappeared. At the hospital, Kermit has lost his memory. He finds his way to Madison Avenue where he meets a trio of frogs, Bill, Gill and Jill, who work in advertising and offer him a job. The rest of the Muppets search in vain for Kermit, and on opening night reluctantly accept that the show will have to go on without him. Meanwhile, Bill, Gill, Jill and Kermit have ended up at Pete's diner, and Kermit's friends recognize him when he unknowingly taps out a tune from the show on glasses of water. At the Biltmore Theatre, Kermit still doesn't remember his friends, but when he ridicules the idea of being in love with Piggy, she karate chops him, curing his amnesia. As they hurriedly prepare for the opening number, the Muppets ask Kermit if their new friends can watch from backstage. Kermit, realizing the show needs more Muppets, suggests that the Madison Avenue frogs, the dogs, the bears, the chickens and others become supernumerary actors.

The show is a smash hit, culminating in what is intended to be a staged wedding between Kermit and Piggy's characters, only for a real minister to appear in lieu of Gonzo. With all of the Muppets, including the ones from Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock present, the show ends with their marriage.


Live-action cast[edit]

  • Louis Zorich as Pete, the owner and chef of Pete's Diner.
  • Juliana Donald as Jenny, Pete's kind daughter, a waitress and aspiring fashion designer.
  • Lonny Price as Ronnie Crawford, Bernard's son and an aspiring Broadway producer.
  • Gates McFadden as Nancy, the secretary to Martin Price.
  • Graham Brown as Mr. Wrightson, the stuffy manager of the perfume store where Miss Piggy briefly works.

Muppet performers[edit]

Cameo guest stars[edit]

  • Frances Bergen as Mr. Winesop's receptionist
  • Art Carney as Bernard Crawford, a renowned theatrical producer and Ronnie's father.
  • James Coco as Mr. Skeffington, a man who leaves his dog at the kennel where Rowlf works.
  • Dabney Coleman as Murray Plotsky, a con artist posing as a theatrical producer named Martin Price.
  • Elliott Gould as a police officer at Pete's Diner. Gould previously appeared as a cameo in The Muppet Movie.
  • Gregory Hines as a roller skater whose skates are borrowed by Miss Piggy.
  • Dr. Cyril Jenkins as the minister performing Kermit and Miss Piggy's wedding.
  • Mayor Edward I. Koch as himself
  • John Landis as Leonard Winesop, a known theatrical producer.
  • Linda Lavin as Kermit's doctor, who diagnoses his amnesia.
  • David Lazer as a customer at Sardi's
  • Liza Minnelli as herself
  • Joan Rivers as Eileen, a perfume saleswoman who works with Piggy.
  • Brooke Shields as a Pete's Diner patron
  • Vincent Sardi Jr. as himself


Under the working title of Muppet Movie III, Jim Henson initially planned to film in late spring 1983. Having directed The Great Muppet Caper and The Dark Crystal back-to-back, Henson decided to serve as executive producer while David Lazer served as producer. Upon selecting fellow Muppet performer and The Dark Crystal co-director Frank Oz to handle directorial duties, Henson stated, "I was looking at the year ahead and I thought my life was very busy and I thought maybe it was a time to have Frank directing one of these."[5]

The first draft titled The Muppets: The Legend Continues, written by Muppet Caper screenwriters Jay Tarses and Tom Patchett, was dismissed by Oz for being "way too over jokey".[5] After being given Henson's encouragement to tinker with the script, Oz revised the screenplay in an effort to develop the "oomph of the characters and their relationships".[5] Once the script was completed and the sets were built, special consultant David Misch was brought in to write cameos for some guest star appearances. Originally, this list of guest stars contained Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin, Michael Jackson, Lily Tomlin, Richard Pryor and Laurence Olivier, to name a few. According to Misch, Hoffman was going to play a Broadway producer and planned to do an imitation of film producer Robert Evans (The Godfather), which he later did in the 1997 film Wag the Dog. However, at the last minute, Hoffman decided that the role could be offensive to Evans and dropped out, following which all the other big names left as well. Because of the dropped cameos, Misch and Oz ended up rewriting most of the dialogue.[6]


Jeff Moss was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score for the music he composed for The Muppets Take Manhattan, but lost to Purple Rain by Prince.[7]

The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
LabelWarner Bros.
The Muppets chronology
The Great Muppet Caper: The Original Soundtrack
The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack
The Muppet Christmas Carol: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Professional ratings
Review scores

The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack contains all of the songs written by Jeff Moss and prominent score cues composed by Ralph Burns from the film, as well as several portions of dialogue and background score. The album reached No. 204 on Billboard's Bubbling Under the Top LPs chart and was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording for Children, but lost to Shel Silverstein's audio edition of Where the Sidewalk Ends.

This is the only Muppet film soundtrack that has not been released on CD. However, three tracks from the album can be found on the 2002 compilation album The Muppet Show: Music, Mayhem, and More. A new version of "Together Again (Again)" was performed in the 2014 film Muppets Most Wanted and its soundtrack.

Side A
1."Together Again"Jeff MossKermit and Friends2:54
2."You Can't Take No for an Answer"Jeff MossDr. Teeth2:00
3."Saying Goodbye"Jeff MossKermit and Friends3:06
4."Rat Scat (Something Cookin')"Jeff MossRizzo the Rat1:18
5."Together Again (Carriage Ride)"Jeff Moss (arr. Ralph Burns)Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Statler and Waldorf1:07
6."I'm Gonna Always Love You"Jeff MossThe Muppet Babies2:55
7."William Tell Overture"Gioachino Rossini (arr. Ralph Burns)The Chickens0:59
Total length:14:19
Side B
1."Looking for Kermit"Ralph BurnsInstrumental1:42
2."Right Where I Belong"Jeff MossKermit and the Muppets2:12
3."Somebody's Getting Married/Waiting for the Wedding"Jeff MossThe Muppets2:36
4."He'll Make Me Happy"Jeff MossMiss Piggy, Kermit and the Muppets2:10
5."The Ceremony"Jeff MossMiss Piggy, Kermit and the Muppets1:10
6."Closing Medley (Final Credits)"Jeff Moss (arr. Ralph Burns)The Muppets4:18
Total length:14:08



The Muppets Take Manhattan was adapted by Marvel Comics in 1984, as the 68-page story in Marvel Super Special #32.[9] The adaptation was later re-printed into a three-issue limited series, released under Marvel's Star Comics imprint (November 1984 – January 1985).[10] The film's script was adapted into comic form by writer Stan Kay with art by Dean Yeagle and Jacqueline Roettcher.[11] Unlike in the film, the comic depicts Gonzo, Floyd Pepper, Animal, Janice, Dr. Teeth, and Zoot in their customary outfits from The Muppet Show.

In addition, a book-and-record set of the film was released in the form of a vinyl record through the Muppet Music Records label.

In celebration of the film's 40th anniversary, The Muppets Take Manhattan returned to theaters for two days on August 13 and 16, 2024.

Home media[edit]

Unlike Henson's previous films (The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and The Dark Crystal), The Muppets Take Manhattan was originally released by TriStar Pictures and not produced by ITC Films, mainly because ITC was suffering from extreme financial difficulties at the time. Therefore, unlike the previous films, the distribution rights to The Muppets Take Manhattan did revert to The Jim Henson Company in 1998, but did not revert to The Walt Disney Company in 2004. Because of this, it is one of three Muppet films (along with Muppets from Space and the direct-to-video feature Kermit's Swamp Years) whose home video and television distribution rights are still controlled by Sony Pictures, and not the Walt Disney Studios.[citation needed]

The Muppets Take Manhattan was first released on VHS and the now defunct CED Videodisc format by CBS/Fox Video in 1985, which then reissued it in 1991, followed by a release from Columbia TriStar Home Video and Jim Henson Home Entertainment on June 1, 1999. The 1999 VHS contained a slightly edited cut from previous versions, possibly derived from the TV broadcast version. Cuts include removal of the audio from the TriStar logo, the scenes of Animal shouting "Bad man!" to Mr. Price, the same goes for the sound of Kermit's panting for breath immediately after leaving Leonard Winesop's office, removal of the words "Oh my God" in one scene, and scenes with Miss Piggy hitting the purse snatcher.

A DVD version was released on June 5, 2001 with the cuts from the 1999 VHS version restored.[12] A Blu-ray edition was released on August 16, 2011, and contains the same bonus features as the DVD.[13] A 4K remaster of the film was released on October 24, 2023, on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray, making it the first film that features the Muppets to receive a 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release.[14]


Box office[edit]

On its opening weekend, The Muppets Take Manhattan grossed $4.4 million, ranking at fifth place at the box office.[15] The film ultimately earned $25.5 million in the United States and Canada,[3] placing it as the second highest-grossing G-rated film of 1984 (behind a re-issue of Walt Disney Productions' Pinocchio).[16]

Critical reaction[edit]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three stars (out of four), stating in his review that "the plot of [the] movie has been seen before." However, Ebert went on to say that just about everything in the film was enjoyable and that Kermit finally solves his long-lasting identity crisis.[17] Gene Siskel of the Chicago Tribune gave the film 3+12 stars (out of four) writing it was "a most enjoyable backstage musical, culminating, as you probably have heard, with a wedding ceremony between you-know-who and you-know-who."[18] Variety positively stated: "The Muppets Take Manhattan is a genuinely fun confection of old-fashioned entertainment that will appeal to both children and their parents, weaned on Henson's syndicated tv series."[19] Sheila Benson of the Los Angeles Times, who expressed disappointment in The Great Muppet Caper, felt the Muppets "have found their footing adroitly now; the emphasis is back on real values and identifiable emotions."[20] In his annual Movie Guide, Leonard Maltin gave the film a three star rating (out of four) as well citing that the film is an "enjoyable outing with bouncy songs, [with a] nice use of N.Y.C. locations."[21]

Gary Arnold of The Washington Post described the film as being "progressively lackluster", finding the Muppets' disbandment to be a "misbegotten juncture that the script proceeds to unravel, losing a unified storytelling thread while keeping tabs on the scattered troupe until the inevitable reunion." He further felt the film lacked "rousing musical numbers", in which he blamed Henson and Oz for pinning "everything on a poorly calculated and staged marital spectacular, as Miss Piggy finally cons Kermit to the altar -- a terminally sappy bad idea to begin with."[22] Vincent Canby of The New York Times wrote: "This may be only an impression, based on the fact that the past always looks greener than the present, but The Muppets Take Manhattan seems just a little less extraordinaire than the two other features."[23] Kathleen Carroll of the New York Daily News gave the film a 2½ star rating out of four, remarking that "despite the contribution of such well known actors as Mayor Koch, The Muppets Take Manhattan is strangely flat. It's no wonder that the Muppets' severest critics, the grumpy Waldorf and Statler, are less than pleased with this mushy movie. Watching Miss Piggy and "Kermie" cuddle together in a hansom cab, Waldorf grimly notes, 'They're in love.' Growls Statler: 'Kind of makes you sick, doesn't it?'."[24] Rob Salem of The Toronto Star, remarked that "the Muppet charm has been as stretched as far is it can go. Now that the pig and the frog are blissfully wedded, it's time to lay them to rest. Better that Jim Henson and associates continue to branch out, as they did with The Dark Crystal, into new and very different stories and characters. Otherwise, in Muppet Movie IV, they'll be forced to deal with the reality of married life between a pretend pig and a phony frog. And that could get a little tricky."[25]

Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 85% of 26 critics have given the film a positive review, with an average rating of 7/10. The site's consensus stated that "if it's not quite as sharp as The Muppet Movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan is still a smart, delightfully old-fashioned tale that follows the formula established by the first two movies -- a madcap adventure assisted by a huge group of human stars."[26] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 64 out of 100 based on 9 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[27]

Abandoned follow-up series[edit]

On February 7, 2019, it was announced that Once Upon a Time showrunners Edward Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were working with actor Josh Gad on a TV series titled Muppets Live Another Day, set after the film's events, for Disney+.[28] The series was to focus on the Muppets, who disbanded some time after the film's events, reuniting after Rowlf disappears.[28] However, on September 9, 2019, it was announced that the series had been scrapped due to creative differences following an executive change at The Muppets Studio.[29]


  1. ^ "MUPPETS TAKE MANHATTAN (U)". British Board of Film Classification. June 27, 1984. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  2. ^ Jones, Brian Jay (2013). "Twists and Turns". Jim Henson: The Biography. New York: Ballantine Books. p. 371. ISBN 978-0-345-52611-3.
  3. ^ a b "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Box Office Mojo.
  4. ^ Donahue, Suzanne Mary (1987). American film distribution : the changing marketplace. UMI Research Press. p. 190. Please note figures are for rentals in US and Canada
  5. ^ a b c Jones, Brian Jay (2013). "Twists and Turns". Jim Henson: The Biography. New York: Ballantine Books. pp. 234, 237. ISBN 978-0-345-52611-3.
  6. ^ Ryan Roe (March 18, 2011). "A Q&A with Muppet Writer David Misch". ToughPigs. Retrieved January 28, 2012 – via WordPress.
  7. ^ Davis, Michael (2008). Street Gang. New York, New York: Penguin Press. p. 379. ISBN 978-0-14-311663-9.
  8. ^ Allmusic review
  9. ^ "Marvel Super Special #32". Grand Comics Database.
  10. ^ The Muppets Take Manhattan at the Grand Comics Database
  11. ^ Friedt, Stephan (July 2016). "Marvel at the Movies: The House of Ideas' Hollywood Adaptations of the 1970s and 1980s". Back Issue! (89). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 69.
  12. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  13. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved December 6, 2011.
  14. ^ McCall, Kevin (August 24, 2023). "It's Time to Play the Music as 'The Muppets Take Manhattan' Comes to 4K UHD". Collider. Retrieved August 26, 2023.
  15. ^ Sanello, Frank (July 17, 1984). "'Ghostbusters,' 'Gremlins' still top box office after six weeks". United Press International. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  16. ^ "1984 Yearly Box Office By MPAA Rating – All G Rated Releases". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on December 2, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  17. ^ Ebert, Roger (July 13, 1984). "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved January 29, 2012 – via RogerEbert.com.
  18. ^ Siskel, Gene (July 13, 1984). "'Muppets Take Manhattan' ... fans, too". Chicago Tribune. Section 5, p. 1. Retrieved July 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  19. ^ "Film Reviews: The Muppets Take Manhattan". Variety. July 11, 1984. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  20. ^ Benson, Sheila (July 13, 1984). "Kermit Croaks Summer's Sweetest News". Los Angeles Times. Part VI, p. 6. Retrieved July 27, 2021 – via Newspapers.com. Open access icon
  21. ^ Maltin, Leonard (2008). Leonard Maltin's 2009 Movie Guide (2009 ed.). Signet. p. 945. ISBN 978-0-451-22468-2 – via Google Books.
  22. ^ Arnold, Gary (July 14, 1984). "The Muppet Mope". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  23. ^ Canby, Vincent (July 13, 1984). "Film: Broadway Setting for 3d Muppet Romp". The New York Times. p. C10. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  24. ^ Carroll, Kathleen (July 13, 1984). "Muppets all sweetness & light". New York Daily News. Retrieved November 10, 2023.
  25. ^ Salem, Rob (July 13, 1984). "Muppets' charm stretched as far as it can go". The Toronto Star. Retrieved November 10, 2023.
  26. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved October 23, 2023.
  27. ^ "The Muppets Take Manhattan". Metacritic. Retrieved July 27, 2021.
  28. ^ a b Anderson, Ethan (February 7, 2019). "The Muppets Revival is Coming to Disney+ from Josh Gad and 'Once Upon a Time' Creators". /Film. Retrieved February 7, 2019.
  29. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (September 9, 2019). "'The Muppets' Disney+ Comedy Series Scrapped". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved September 20, 2019.

External links[edit]