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Henson sells Muppets to Disney

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by samtheeagle, Feb 17, 2004.


What do you think of Disney buying the Muppets and Bear?

Poll closed May 17, 2004.
  1. It's great! Disney can keep the Muppets alive and visible.

    58 vote(s)
  2. It's awful! The Muppets will go downhill and quality will suffer.

    87 vote(s)

  1. jediX

    jediX Well-Known Member

    And you know what, what will happen to tape trading? :eek:
  2. AndyWan Kenobi

    AndyWan Kenobi Well-Known Member

    Well, if it means we get higher quality official releases of a wide variety of programs, I'm not worried.
  3. Struble

    Struble Well-Known Member

    This line floors me everytime I read it. How can you say that about a company that has reduced a great character like Donald to the role of Mickey's sidekick and foil? And who has turned the characters (Mickey and Donald) into pale imitations of the Warner Bros. characters (Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck)? Disney doesn't even know how to do right by their own characters, what makes them think that they'll treat the Muppets with any respect?


  4. AruggeRadio

    AruggeRadio Well-Known Member

    Wow, this has to be the most insane amount of posts i have ever seen on Muppet Central. This is such a huge issue, but kids I think it’s been obvious with the closing of the NY office that the company the Henson’s bought back in July isn't the one they sold in 2000. Its much weaker. But it’s still unclear if this will be a total sale or just the selling of the rights. Establishing a working relationship similar to what the pixar deal was. Anyways here is what Variety is posting about the event.


    sorce www.variety.com

    HOLLYWOOD -- Kermit and his Muppets pals are finally heading to the Magic Kingdom -- though it remains to be seen who owns the joint when the dust settles.

    On Tuesday, a day after rejecting Comcast's offer to acquire Disney, the Mouse House announced a long-sought deal to acquire the famous Jim Henson puppet characters and the lesser-known "Bear in the Big Blue House" property. Discussed for more than a decade in one form or another, the deal's finally coming together appears mostly coincidental to Mouse's current corporate dilemma.

    Still, the announcement is serendipitously timed for head Mouseketeer Michael Eisner, who can point to the deal as evidence of his ability to lead Disney down new and profitable paths. Agreement also reps a big coup for the children of the late Jim Henson, securing a high-profile future for the best-known of their father's character creations while keeping an array of film entertainment assets for projects more of their own making.

    "It's great for Disney, but it's also a win for the family," said one industryite with a history of dealings with the Henson company. "They basically have parked their father's legacy in perpetuity at the place where it belongs, and they can kind of have their own lives as well."

    Hensons in action

    Brian Henson and Lisa Henson, son and daughter of the company founder, have an array of film and TV projects in active development at the company, which is expected to focus more on entertainment for older demos than it has in the past.

    Hollywood-based Jim Henson Co. also will continue to operate its Creature Shops in L.A. and London and will maintain and exploit rights to its other film and TV franchises such as "Fraggle Rock," "Farscape" and "The Hoobs."

    Financial terms of the agreement with Disney weren't released. A well-placed source said Disney will have to pay only part of the purchase price upfront -- believed to be well under $100 million -- and compensate the Hensons additionally by extending profit participation in the exploitation of the Muppets and other characters over the next several years.

    Further diminishing Disney's out-of-pocket expense was its limiting the deal to properties with a natural fit for its family-oriented theme parks and cable webs.

    "They bought the assets that they care about, without the liabilities," mused one financial community observer.

    Entertainment attorney Skip Brittenham helped fashion the agreement for the Henson family. Deal is expected to close within two months.

    Agreement was announced after the close of market trading. But if Mouse shares rise on the news this morning, Team Eisner could find its defenses against the Comcast assault bolstered appreciably.

    That's because Comcast's bid was entirely stock-based, so any escalation of Disney shares or decline of Comcast stock makes it harder for Mouse to argue the appeal of its offer. Movement in the companies' stock since the Comcast bid was announced already had most analysts predicting the cable company would have to sweeten its offer for Disney eventually.

    Previous deals

    The Henson family paid $78 million cash in July to buy back their father's company from the German media group EM.TV, which had acquired Henson three years earlier. Henson's Sesame Street characters were sold off in 2001 to Sesame Workshop for $180 million.

    In buying the Muppets, Disney is acquiring assets and film and TV library associated with characters such as Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear and Animal. Similarly, Mouse is acquiring all assets related to live-action kids skein "Bear in the Big Blue House."

    "Since I worked with Jim Henson on the first Muppets TV special in the 1960s, it was obvious to me that his characters would make a deep imprint on the hearts of families worldwide, and this announcement is the culmination of a longtime desire to welcome them into the Walt Disney Co.," Eisner said in a statement.

    "Kermit and Miss Piggy are well known and beloved around the world, and will have an opportunity to be seen and loved by millions more well into the future through Disney's distribution channels at home and abroad, including homevideo, family television programming and consumer products, in addition to the existing theme park presence at Walt Disney World and Disneyland," Eisner continued. "We are honored that the Henson family has agreed to pass on to us the stewardship of these cherished assets."

    Safe harbor

    Henson co-chairman Lisa Henson called the agreement with Disney a culmination of her father's vision for the Muppets franchise.

    "(The deal) ensures that the Muppet characters will live, flourish and continue to delight audiences everywhere, forever," she said.

    "This new and very important relationship will enable our two companies to combine our respective talents and resources in ways that will fully realize the tremendous potential of the Muppet and Bear franchises," Brian Henson said in a statement. "Michael Eisner's long-standing passion and respect for the Muppets gives me and my family even more confidence in Disney as a partner."

    While Henson co-chairman's reference to Eisner will no doubt be appreciated by the embattled Disney topper, terms of the company's agreement with Disney would have to be honored by any future regime in the event of a Mouse takeover.

    Long time coming

    The Henson family said at the time of its buy-back from EM.TV that efforts already were under way to establish long-term rights exploitation deals with one or more studios. The deal with Disney -- which accomplishes that aim in the most dramatic fashion -- completes a negotiating dance with the Mouse first started by the late Jim Henson.

    Just before Henson died in 1990, Disney was poised to buy the Henson company and fold it into the House of Mouse. Though that deal was never concluded, Disney -- along with Viacom, Time Warner and others -- again figured in talks to acquire the company just before EM.TV stepped in to buy Henson for $680 million in February 2000 and again during an auction leading up to the Henson family's repurchase.

    "We think the Muppets characters are evergreen characters that have a broad family appeal," said Peter Murphy, Disney's chief strategic officer. "We will look aggressively at developing new programming featuring both the Muppets in their classic presentation and perhaps in a new form that could include 3-D (computer-generated imaging). This could be in a TV movie, a TV series or a feature film."

    Lisa Henson noted the Henson company has already done some CGI tests on the Muppets Babies characters. Disney is aware of the tests but hasn't yet seen the work, she said.

    "There are a lot of cool possibilities, and bringing the Muppets into new technologies is one of the interesting new possibilities," Henson said.

    Intriguing prospect of a new CGI franchise is another a well-timed development for Eisner, who was criticized when Pixar broke off negotiations to extend the animation studio's co-prod pact with the Mouse.

    Past Muppet movies have used the puppet characters in mostly live-action settings. Recent theatrical titles have included "Muppets from Space" and "Elmo in Grouchland," both released to modest success in 1999.
  5. floydnjanicefan

    floydnjanicefan Well-Known Member

    I think this is terrible. When the Henson family bought the company, I thought that maybe the company would go back to the Muppety goodness that we all love. I had a hope that maybe the family would reunite the Muppets and Sesame Street so that the Muppet family would be united. Now, the Henson family is just separating the Muppet families even more. Now, Fraggle Rock, Sesame Street, and the Muppets will all be run by different companies.

    I feel so upset, Disney has really gone downhill in the past 15 years. I used to respect their work, but not every they do ends up being stupid. And they ruin every success that they have with a sequel - or two. I am really worried that Disney will have the Muppets do the same.

    So, will the Henson family have any say in new projects at all? Are they still going to control the company, but with Disney's supervision. If that were the case, I would not worry as much about it, but I find it highly unlikely... :(

    I think I am going to go cry now... :cry:
  6. Kala

    Kala Member

    I've always believed that the Henson kids run the company the way they think Jim would've wanted it, and I'm sure that's just what they're doing now. And his kids know what he would want better than we do, so why not just trust them until we see for ourselves how this plays out? I'm not ecstatic about some of the projects Disney's done recently either, but I'm not about to give up hope just because the Muppets are in their hands. If we give up on the Muppets now, then there's no hope for them no matter what happens with Disney. Plus, knowing how dedicated JHC is to their fans, I think it would be important to them if they knew we'd stick with them through thick and thin. So for the record: I'm 100% behind you, Brian, Lisa, and everyone else who made the Muppets what they are! And everyone try to keep your chin up!
  7. electricmayhem

    electricmayhem Well-Known Member

    Ok, first of all everybody just take a step back and a few deep breaths.


    Now, i'm not going to reiterate all the good and bad things that could come of this because i'm not going to beat a dead horse but I just think everyone needs to slow down. No one can see the future so there's no need to upset yourselves by jumping to conclusions that the only possible things that could happen are bad things. I personally am middle of the road on this. Of course I see the unfortunate things that could come of this (for me, this would be seeing the muppets turned into Lizzie McGuire-esqe kid crap) but for now, I'm just going to see how it goes and hope to God for the best. So everyone, do yourselves a favor and remember this does not mean that our worst fears will come true. You'll sleep better that way.
  8. jzion12345

    jzion12345 Member

    I don't know, but this sounds surprisingly similar to the Pixar deal. That worked out very well for Pixar and they now have enough money from Disney to go out on their own and find a distribution deal on their own with som erespect behind them. On the other hand, I think I partnership with Disney in the way of distribution and production costs and revenue sharing would have been a better deal. It's a double-edged sword. Oh well...We'll have to see what happens.
  9. Struble

    Struble Well-Known Member

    What if your worst fear is that the Muppets will be owned by Disney?

  10. shazam

    shazam Member

    Come on folks!!!

    As an employee of The Jim Henson Company, this is a great thing! Disney is very committed to giving Henson the type of treatment it deserves.

    Our little company just doesn't have the sort of deveopment and marketing money that Disney does, which will mean now there will be more Muppet Movies, more Muppet shows, just more Muppets everywhere! Muppet Christmas Carol and Muppet Treasure Island were done with Disney, and our two of our best movies. I know that things might look grim on the surface, but I think this is the best thing that could have happened to us. I look forward to riding something like "Gonzo's Daredevil Extravganza and Drop of Doom" at Disney's California Adventure some day.

    Keep hope alive! And keep your chins up!

    I'm in Sydney Australia right now...and wish I was at home now so I could be there during all of this! But I'm here working on a "secret" project. More on that soon, I hope!


    :concern: :o
  11. jediX

    jediX Well-Known Member

    I posted this in another thread but I might as well put it here, too...

    "We Got Us"

    Life is a funny thing,
    sometimes you laugh and sing,
    sometimes you grumble and fuss,
    but either way what do we care?
    We got us!
    We have our ups and downs,
    our share of smiles and frowns,
    but through it all we don't fuss,
    cause we got a special thing going,
    We got us!

    Some people like to go through their life single,
    aw, that wouldn't suit us at all,
    Why sing a melody as a soliloquy,
    when its more fun to be harmonizing

    People they say we are,
    crazy the way we are,
    that we won't even discuss,
    Cause what we got they can't smother,
    we'd trade our life for no other,
    they've only got one another,
    But we got us!
  12. Sir Didymus

    Sir Didymus Well-Known Member

    I can just see Disney making more STUPID sequels with The Muppets.

    Kermit's Swamp Years 2: Back to the Swamp!

    I am happy for the fact that Disney may bring back some T.V. shows and specials, but It just makes me sick to think The Muppets may be chatting with Hillary duff and all those other STUPID pointless CRAPPY shows that are on the Disney channel now. I can't believe the Henson kids, I thouht they were smart.

  13. Struble

    Struble Well-Known Member

    As I learned from a radio interview with the kid that plays Matt on Lizzie Maguire (Corrected: I originally wrote "Hillary Duff")... the last thing we want is for them to make a Muppet show for the Disney Channel. They only make a finite number of episodes of the shows made for the Disney Channel. As soon as they get that many episodes done, no more show. They may make a movie (TV or otherwise) but in essense that is all you get.

    This news has made me a pessimist.
  14. Sir Didymus

    Sir Didymus Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the info. That is somewhat of a relief, but it just worries me that The Muppets won't be their usual fuzzy selves. I mean, what if Disney decides to fire all the Muppeteers, and animate all the character????

    There is just so much bad stuff to think about, but then again there is so much good stuff, I guess..........

    .......just have to wait and see i guess.......


    P.S. Sorry if i sounded a little nasty, but I just had to get that off my chest!
  15. AruggeRadio

    AruggeRadio Well-Known Member

    I honestly think what kevin said is the best thing i have read so far. Lets see what happens.
  16. dwmckim

    dwmckim Well-Known Member

    Theres only one word to sum this up...


    So as i understand it (and PLEASE correct me if im wrong), JHC will still remain its own company...no one bought JHC but rather Henson sold the main thing that makes the company what it is off and will now continue on its own as a Muppetless entity? What kind of enchanted apple or magic mushroom where the Hensons smoking when they agreed to that? When they bought the company back, they said they were looking at exploring strategic partnerships...um, getting rid of your main identity/product to someone else is not what one calls a strategic partnership!

    I dearly want to see The Muppets succeed and i hope for the best and am anxiously awaiting some more details that will make me see some of the actual positives and benefits to all this, but at the moment this all reads like some horrible April Fools joke, internet hoax, or Onion story! I mean try as i might i can only think of three good things about this...

    The Muppets werent bought by Roger Ailles.
    The Muppets werent bought by Pat Robertson.
    The Muppets...well...okay i dont have a third thing yet.

    We may see more Muppet rides at Disneyland...yippee...all we have to do is watch everything else about the Muppets be taken for a ride!

    I dont mean to offend anyone who has had to deal with such horrors in real life, but for the longest time Henson in the way it deals with corporate partners/deals has reminded me of an abused spouse who keeps going back to the abusive husband or other people who treats her as badly because she feels deep down the bruises are proof of real love and that in the end the beast can change and therell be a happy ending.

    Like i say i really am hoping for the best and want this to be a good thing and i sincerely hope DIsney will treat them right and look after the Muppets best interests (and if that isnt optimism i dont know what is), but right now all i hear is Faust is some faraway place thinking, "Dang, now if that wasnt the mother of all deals!" As it stands, this all makes about as much sense as investing ones life savings into desert tours for Sebacians.
  17. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    hehe, the article said 'exploited'. how apro po. Also, they mention Grouchland, which *was* a JH pictures release. Boy how I miss when Sesame WAS JHC.

    So now muppets, bear =disney, sesame=sw, and fraggle=JHC. darn.

    I needed a good laugh... *wipes tears of laughter*
    If stripping away imgination for cheap sequels and 3rd world sweat shop greed is magical...

    its kind of like a marriage between Fred Rogers and Osama bin Laden.
    still I support it whole heartedly, for the survival of the brand.

    FOLKS! Yer forgetting the good news! JHC can now afford that water cooler!

    what's hat spose to mean? Oh well, more muppet merch for the real fans...btw, when ya gonna send my muppet vhs archive back? ;)

    Im glad Im not the only one who sees whats going on.

    I guess folks would rather have the muppets teter on th ebrink of non existence than be rescued.

    Maybe Im just a bad guy, but I cheered at the idea of JHC fully moving to sunny california here, and I cheer even louder for this.
    and I *HATE* disney. go figure.

    Jim Hill is a visionary...as well as a member of the illuminati
  18. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    best post on here! I agree, it is surreal JHC seems to have made a crack smoking decision to sell off the heart oif the company: the muppets...they now dont even have sesame. but still, what else can they do...continue to wither away?
  19. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Prepare yourselves for:

    The Return to Muppet Treasure Island
    The Greater Muppet Caper
    The Muppet's retake Manhatten


    But on a serious note, Disney is NEVER EVER EVER EVER EVER gong to make Muppet vs Las Vegas, is it?
  20. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Thanks. You give us all hope.

    Just wish Secret Squigle was around still

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