Heading into the Thanksgiving holiday, there are many thing to be thankful for. A great family, exciting times and Muppets. OK, there’s other things to be thankful for, but one of those smaller joys is the opportunity to share something that I loved as a child with my own child. As times have changed and very little seems the same as it used to be, sports and the arts are some of the few things that are still very similar – if not just more expensive. With that, we look forward to going to see THE MUPPETS on Friday with our daughter.
It will be interesting to see how well it does. There is certainly a phenomenal marketing and PR campaign. The buzz and other elements that Disney has less control over are even running rampant. Our friends at Oskoui+Oskoui went so far as to create some magazine covers – as if there weren’t enough images of Kermit, Miss Piggy and Animal staring out from the newstand already.
What’s interesting is that Jim Henson started the deal with Disney prior to his untimely passing because he thought they would be the best suited to manage the brand and characters, yet the company has seemingly just dabbled with the brand. There are features at the theme parks and they released a couple of new pieces of content in the way of TV shows and the like, but they never seemed to feel fully comfortable with the property.
Now, they have gone full-bore with the property and have – for the most part – kept with its satirical roots. With a fun set of satirical videos created by the agency, BuddhaJones, and the treatment of the characters as “real” across numerous Disney-owned properties like ESPN, it seems like they’re nailing it. Perhaps there was a timidity in deference to Jim Henson or the original creators themselves. Frank Oz, Henson’s partner in the creation of the property, respectfully stepped away from the project and there was rumored to have been some challenges in having non-puppeteer crews work effectively with the puppeteers. One recount of filming that I’ve heard is that there were process conflicts throughout principal photography and they did not really get into a rhythm until re-shoots.
I’m hoping the fact that someone (Jason Segel) who grew up watching and loving the show as a kid actually wrote and stars in this version makes for a strong movie. It certainly seems that Segel’s involvement reinforced the idea to just go for it – and it seems to have worked. The franchise is one that I’ve always loved. I was so happy to watch THE MUPPET MOVIE with my daughter and to hear her laugh at the same things I did. Now, every time she sees one of the characters, she calls out that its “one of Daddy’s favorites.” Whether they are a favorite or not, it’s still pretty cool to hear your child say that. I was happy for a friend of mine, who is one of the film’s producers, that he was able to participate in a franchise like this one as the opportunity does not come around often.
Perhaps the songs might not be as memorable as “Rainbow Connection” or “Movin’ Right Along.” Or, maybe the characters won’t act or sound exactly like we remember. But, the chance for adults to share something like this with their kids is special.
From a marketing perspective, it will be interesting to see how it does at the box office. As stated before, the promotion of this film has been top-notch and the team couldn’t be faulted for low numbers. For the sake of the franchise, this will do phenomenally well at the box-office with Black Friday becoming Green Friday.