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Is Henson being sold?

Discussion in 'Muppet Headlines' started by Jrobert, Apr 18, 2002.

  1. sidcrowe

    sidcrowe Well-Known Member

    To Frogboy

    That's for darn sure.

    "Snow Dogs," resplendent with its tired umpteenth invocation of that terrible
    "Who Let The Dogs Out?" song, is certainly not a chunk of crud that I would
    associate with the term "Disney Magic."

    Let's try...

    Snow Dogs=Disney Magic!

    Yeah, right.:mad:

    I'm really dreading their exploitation of the Jim Henson legacy.:(
  2. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member


    I think if you can change your opinion based on how a subsidary treats a DVD release that ISN'T anything to do with the people who would actually be in control of how the Henson company was treated if it was aquired, well it's a bit misguided.

    I can understand that as an adult muppet fan you'd like widescreen but as you quite rightly say, Disney are aiming it at the kids - and the truth is that to the majority of the population the Muppets ARE kids matierial. When you say that they still don't understand the muppet market then what about Henson themselves - they are releasing "Kermits Swamp Years" direct to video, aimed at exactly the same age group that these DVD's are.

    You are totally right when you say how Disney are releasing and producing whatever they can right now for a quick and easy buck. The media indistry is in a big slump, and Disney haven't been doing massively well so they've followed just about every other media company and started releasing their catalogue on DVD as fast as possible. You are absolutely right that they don't put much thought into it - they just go through a list in a meeting and say yea or nay to about 50 suggestions on what can be released as easily and cheaply as possible. I know it may not be right but they are just following their standard procedures - 80% of people who went to see MTI or MCC were probably kids so i can understand why they are releasing it to kids and in a "kid friendly" format. Yes, they don't understand that there is an adult market out there, and they should, but this seems to be their tried and tested "method" of DVD production and i don't think in this age of mass DVD releases we could have expected much more of them. If fullscreen kids DVD's didn't sell - Disney wouldn't be making them !

    More generally, I just don't think on the whole they are disrespecting the Henson company, or do not feel that Jim's work is not important. Just because a DVD doesn't get 5 star treatment doesn't imply that at all. Lets look at Henson themselves (along with Columbia) - they released the original 3 movies with no special edition, no extra features actually relevant to the film, no promotion. These were really Jim's legacy and theres so much more they could have done with them but they chose not to. MFS on the other hand was produced and put together very well simply because it was quite easy to do it being a 'current' film. So if you think how one company treats a DVD is a statment of how they regard Jim Henson then you should use the same test on Henson themselves.
  3. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member


    The other 4 DVDs in the series DO have extra material. Not a massive amount, but it is completely false to state otherwise. The reason I mentioned collectors editions is that Disney seems to favor them when it comes to Aladdin or Tarzan, so why not this? They can charge more for them. I can see why that wouldn't be popular with execs as the Muppets haven't been incredibly popular for a decade. It was simply offered as a thought.

    Just because my view doesn't match yours, it certainly doesn't mean it is misguided. You tend to use loaded words sometimes and this is such a case. I have always been on the fence about Disney ownership and I understand the pros and cons - and the fact that it was Jim Henson's idea in the first place. I don't think Disney's disrespect of the Muppets is personal, rather it is the way they treat all their products. I just don't want the Muppets to fall victim to the same sort of fate and be cannibalized by the Mouse.

    My thoughts on this issue have never changed. I have always been uneasy about Disney. This just drove home many doubts I had and it certainly is important to see how they will be treated and promoted. This is all consumer side stuff and it is the packaging that we will receive if there is a buyout. I find it unacceptable.

    I have continually commented about my lack of initial enthusiasm for Swamp years, but it is premature and "misguided" to judge it before it is released. The cover art so far looks like it is targeted to a young market, but we'll see.
  4. Bean Bunny

    Bean Bunny Well-Known Member


    Bean Bunny here,

    With regards to the whole Pan & Scan deal. Basically a ton of consumers were making complains about the black bars on the bottom of their scence. Therefore Disney decide to put almost all of family DVD in full screen. Disney was just listening to their consumers.

    Alot of people have been complaining the upcoming "Spider-Man: The Ulimate Villian Showdown" before it even come out. Well, it turn out that the people who were bashing it, were wrong about it.

    See ya later

    Bean Bunny

    I am cute as a button!

  5. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I feel that Disney was listning to one side of the consumers arguement because until the compaints roll in this year about their cropped titles they really don't know the other side of consumer preference. I don't see why a compromise can't be reached by releasing both on the same disc. Just plain weird.

    Ultimate Spiderman, huh? Haven't seen it, but I may check it out. I have always felt that it is unfair to critique a film that hasn't been released. Even clips can't accurately describe a film - as we all have been misled by good and poor previews.

    Good to see ya hoppin' around the new forum!
  6. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member


    <<The other 4 DVDs in the series DO have extra material. Not a massive amount, but it is completely false to state otherwise.>>

    What i said was that they didn't have RELEVANT features meaning nothing much specific to the film. No commentaries, no deleted scenes, no interviews with the producers. They had the original muppet screen test which was for the show, not the movie and the muppet VT clips. If we use the idea being talked about here that how a company (or subsiduary - in Diz's case) treats a DVD dictates how they treat a property then Henson is as guilty as Disney. If Henson/Columbia wanted they could have gone to town with these releases for they are Jim's original work and deserve better treatment - lets hope it comes at some point. I just wonder how come we weren't all up in arms against Columbia insisting on 'Special Editions' when they released the original 3 movies - after all they are the ones that really matter to the majority of Henson fans and i'm sure you'll agree that they could have been treated better.

    <<The reason I mentioned collectors editions is that Disney seems to favor them when it comes to Aladdin or Tarzan, so why not this? They can charge more for them. I can see why that wouldn't be popular with execs as the Muppets haven't been incredibly popular for a decade. It was simply offered as a thought.>>

    I am totally with you there and i think you are right that it has a lot to do with the films not being 100% property of Disney. It stinks for Muppet fans but then that's the media for you. That happens everywhere and it isn't particularly specific to Disney but i totally get where you are coming from.

    <<Just because my view doesn't match yours, it certainly doesn't mean it is misguided. You tend to use loaded words sometimes and this is such a case.>>

    Jamie, maybe misguided was not the right word to use, but i certainly wasn't using it in a loaded manner on this occasion. I just think that you know your stuff, so giving the impression to people that how Buena Vista (a subsiduary focusing on Video & DVD releases) treats a DVD release has much relation to how Disney would treat a 300 million dollar aquisition is just (in my opinion) way off. If that is your opinion then fine, you are entitled to it, but i'm sure you know that these two companies (Buena and Disney) are both massive and to an extent, work seperately most of the time.

    Personally, i doubt that Disney has very little communication with Buena on how minor releases are treated but from the way i read what you were saying (and maybe i interpreted this wrongly) was that you thought the way Buena was treating the MCC DVD showed how Disney regarded the Henson company. If that's the case - then BITBBH would be an unpromoted, unmerchandised mess stuck in a rubbish time slot. It's not - Disney and Henson have worked very well together and the name 'Jim Henson' is up there in larger letters than Disney. I just think that this DVD problem we have gives us absolutely no clue as to how Disney would treat an aquired Henson company - the people making the decisions would be totally different and a Henson company owned by Disney would likely be treated way better than now. If you really feel otherwise, then that's your opinion, and as we are on a forum i guess stating it means you are open to debating it.

    <<I just don't want the Muppets to fall victim to the same sort of fate and be cannibalized by the Mouse. >>

    I agree - i wouldn't like all the Henson stuff to be treated the same way Buena is treating third party products now. Obviously though, thats merchandising, and it might be worth putting up with when you consider everything else that Disney can give to Henson on a wider scale (broadcast, facillities, budget, retail outlets, promotional deals). I think the only hope we have is that if Disney owned Henson they would put a lot more effort into how they merchandise the brand. *fingers crossed*

    <<I have continually commented about my lack of initial enthusiasm for Swamp years, but it is premature and "misguided" to judge it before it is released. The cover art so far looks like it is targeted to a young market, but we'll see.>>

    I wasn't really being "misguided" or "premature" - i was going from what Henson have said themselves. If you check out the original press release Henson clearly state it's aimed at a younger audience. I know how you feel about Swamp Years, but i was interested to see what you thought about both Henson and Disney releasing Henson products specifically for the SAME market and packaging them for that market (when we all know there is a more 'mature' audience) - yet Disney are being slammed for it, and Henson are not.

    I'm not really specifically aiming all this at you, Sid and others have expressed the same kind of opinions so i'd love to get their take on it too.
  7. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    The difference in Swamp Years and Muppet Treasure Island is that Swamp Years (from your report) is intended for a younger target audience. I understand your point, but unless a Henson production is like Bear in the Blue House, Disney is perplexed how to market it. By the way - don't they own part of the characters in that show? They may own the rights to a coupe Muppet films, but they have no realy ownership of Kermit. That is likely why they promote it so much. That and it is very successful.

    This sort of makes me glad that Swamp Years is direct-to-video when it clearly didn't have to be. Maybe Henson feel s like they need an avenue to introduce these characters to a younger audience. I disagree with this method, but I'll have to wait for the film. I still don't see why any of this prevents Disney from including the widescreen version on the disc.

    I do see that many view Muppets as childrens entertainment and they have lost their way in the last decade. Much of this is in direct relation to the failed Disney merger and subsequent releases in my opinion.

    I feel that these thoughtless DVD releases are a symptom of a larger problem. I see that they are enforcing too much of the Disney formula on the Muppets and this is just anotehr example. Considering Muppets Tonight, the notorious production feuds during MTI and MCC, Disney's strong arm techniques in the failed merger and now this release, they add up to an unfavorable conculusion in my mind. I can't say that there are not pros, but there seem to be many cons - and now another fresh one that is rather big in the minds of fans. I see this as less of a Muppet problem and more of a DVD issue, but it puts me over on the other side again.

    I know that unless AOL/Timewarner, Dreamworks or an enormous corporation buys them first, Disney will get the Muppets. They are just wisely playing a waiting game. Heck, they figure if they wait another five years if/when the franchise is really in trouble, they can offer what ever lint and paperclips they have mixed in with the change in their pockets in return for the Henson empire. They really remind me of the vultues in the Jungle Book. But you know, in another five years widescreen will likely be the standard anyway.
  8. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member


    Yup you are totally right about BITBBH and Swamp Years is intended (from what i've read) very much towards the younger audience. Though i remember all the fan complaints when MCC and MTI got it's cinematic release that Disney were aiming it more at kids than families that included adults. I guess i am hoping that once Disney bought Henson they would start to treat them as well as the BITBBH example i brought up. It does show that the two companies can make a good team, rather than all the scare stories from the MCC/MTI film set. I honestly think that we would have got those same stories no matter who the Henson company were partnered with - the Henson staff had been so used to working on their own. I also can't totally lay this Muppets as kiddie fodder blame just with Disney. The next film after the Disney ones, MFS was just blatently kiddiefied and that was all thanks to JHC ! I think there is a BIG line between Jim's films and the one's after his death - in the original 3 its easy to see them as family orientated films that adults could easily enjoy rather than kids films that an adult would be dragged to see.

    I have never been 110% happy with Disney owning the Muppets but i do see them as the next best thing. I agree with you about the game Disney are playing. I also think that we have a lot to worry about with EMTV still owning the Henson company. The German media is in such turmoil and if EMTV went into liquidation then Henson could get broken up, and sold to the highest bidder and that could mean absolutely anybody owning them, or part of them. If Disney are going to get them i'd prefer it be soon rather than seeing the people in charge of picking up the pieces after EMTV, not getting enough money for Henson as a whole company and deciding to break it apart. That'd be nasty !

    Getting back to the DVD thing. Yup - i am with you - i can't see why both versions could not be included. Although i can see Disneys point of view and i can see why they are getting a lot of flack for not including the 'retro' market in their plans. Maybe these DVD's are being released too soon - possibly once the Muppets are on Fox people will understand they can be 'edgy' and appeal to adults. While i don't see this as having much of a relationship with how Diz would treat Henson once they owned them, i do see it as one big P.R blunder. Obviously upsetting the fans who you may well depend on and market to, in the event of any aquisition is a BAD move and i don't think they are oblivious to the fact that there IS an adult audience - just they ignore it because it doesn't buy Muppet DVD's by the hundreds of thousands !
  9. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Re: Jamie

    That is precicely my point. Disney has turned into more of a hack company these days than one of thoughtful quality entertainment. The obnoxiously dayglo-colored boxes of their VHS releases of TMM and TGMC in the nineties was my first clue into how they felt the Muppets fit into their marketing plans. They see it as, dare I say, Barney or some sort of relics from the past that translate into childrens fare. They have no vision under their company. Releases are either kids or adults and there is not much bridging the gap. I wish they'd treat the Muppets like they initually treat their animated releases - before they create terrible sequels. Just think Return to Muppet Treasure Island or Another Muppet Christmas Carol. That is the NEW Disney way. Ick!

    That is what bugs me the most. They have no more decency even with their own product it seems. I'd like to see how competitive Disney would be if Pixar were taken off the payroll. Just my ideas. I know Disney's eventual ownership is 80% likely.
  10. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    I'm glad you agreed on that comment i made - i just don't think there is much we can do to change their minds. To (roughly) 80% of the population the Muppets ARE regarded as purely kids stuff so i don't think we can really argue with the Disney marketing people that they have got their homework totally wrong. The whole idea of doing the ol' mass release your catalogue on DVD thing is to get a quick buck in the easiest and cheapest way possible - every media company is doing it because a) they want to take advantage of the DVD boom while prices are still high, and b) all media companies are making losses right now and need cash injections.

    I do totally agree that Diz have big problems when it comes to properties that do not fit easily into either the adults or kids categories and i think being more of a kids company they have always had that problem rather than it being a new thing. I don't particularly agree that they see the Muppets in a similar vain to 'Barney' but i get your point. Disney are too smart for that - if they did buy Henson they would always leave some control and creative control with them because firstly they can make lots of money on the whole 'traditional' family aspect, and second, they would be completely stuck without the Henson people or the muppeteers, and no way are they going to let that kind of aquisition go down the pan. Thats why i think we wouldn't see a 'Return to Muppet Treasure Island' but i do certainly see your point but i guess at the end of the day it's all about making money so until the number of adult muppet fans buying merchandise outgulfs the parent in the Disney store buying the first thing that will keep the kid quiet, i guess we will not get what we want ! LOL

    Danny wrote some stuff on this at Toughpigs - he spoke directly with a woman at Henson and she confirmed the notion that they would like to release 'fan wish list' style stuff but we aren't a large enough fan base.
  11. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member


    I just wonder if anyone has gotten a reply from these Disney execs? They really don't care about anything but the bottom line. As a firm believer in capitalism, I certainly understand this to some extent, but hacked off the existing fans of a franchise is a poor idea. And I just don't get why they always fight an uphill battle trying to market things so strictly when it really just homogenizes the projects and makes them unappealing. This is one time I am grateful for critics and I hope the new cropped DVDs receive an embarrassing and scathing review. I really feel they need to take notice. This cropped decision (even beyond the Muppet releases) have really upset me. I really hope they get bit in the butt with this decision.
  12. sidcrowe

    sidcrowe Well-Known Member

    Froggy and Luke

    The cropped DVD is like the tip of an iceberg: not too much of a deal by itself, but nonetheless it gives some of us pause for worry.

    I think all of us here feel, via one way or another, that the Muppets are special. The problem is that there is a great deal of profitable material out there such as Barney, the (who BUYS this stuff) Olsen Twins, etc, which is not at all special, and which merely fits the bill for "entertainment" and moves on into the scrap pile of worthless pop culture.

    Does the same care that Jim Henson offered while performing Kermit in the desert as he questioned his whole life go into a clumsy, cloying performance of Barney? No.

    How about the people handling the Olsen twins? Do they go the extra mile to bring us something brilliant? No.

    It is unsettling, to say the least, that the stewardship of the Henson legacy–the Muppets–would be handled by people who don't care; by people who merely want to churn out enough product of a similar low quality just so that they can compete at the same rate.

    People who make movies such as "Snow Dogs."

    People who see ONE darn fine movie, The Bad News Bears, and then go ahead to remake it a ton of times with NO SHAME, over and over again.

    The Mighty Ducks, 1, 2, and 3...and a terrible cartoon series

    Angels in the Outfield

    The Big Green

    People who produce bloody awful sequels to great films that were never meant to have a sequel, made by people who had NOTHING to do with the original film.

    Those are the folks who may very well have the Muppets. People who make garbage and put Walt Disney's name on it, and that's their OWN GUY!

    And the garbage KEEPS COMING!

    Owning the Muppets gives Disney a heretofore unmentioned advantage: the elimination of competition.

    The WWF's Vince McMahon recently bought the WCW. For what? To develop the WCW's storylines and characters? To continue the tradition of WCW events? No.

    He bought it to bury it and make himself a monopoly.

    The Muppets NEED to find a home with a company that is full of FIRE to make them as BIG as they can be, and they simply WILL NOT find that with Disney.

    In nature, amphibians devour rodents. Unfortunately for us true believers, in the business world the converse may prove to be true.

  13. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member


    I still see some up-sides to a buyout, but I do agree with your statements. It is inevitable that they will get the Muppets. I just hope that when/if they do, they will allow Henson more independance than they have shown so far. I can see a "Jim Henson Division" being a good selling point for stockholders, but I hope it will be more than a shell company.
  14. Bean Bunny

    Bean Bunny Well-Known Member


    Bean here again,

    I have been reading of what you guys have been saying about Disney. True, over the past few years Disney has done some, how should I say this, okay stuff. Example: Snow Dogs, sequels, & lower Disney Imageering to spinner rides. With that said, Disney has also did some wonderful things such as Fantasia 2000, Tarzan, Tokyo Disneysea, and Walt Disney Treasues DVDs.

    The Walt Disney Company is not the only ones who is making sequels, doing pan & scan, and other things. Example: AOL Time-Warner, who has overdone their exposure of Scooby Doo with airing like every hour on Cartoon Network and Kids WB as well as the upcoming feature film. Speaking of the live-action Scooby Doo, the film was supposely request by the marketing departmetn of Warner since they found that they would make a bucket lot of money on promotions and tie-ins. Don't count out the numerous direct to video sequels and the new "What New, Scooby DOO!" series debuting in the fall. Don't get me started on the remake of Willie Wonke and The Cholcate Factory and the live-action Jetson movie. Time Warner was quoted in reset artilce saying that they will francise all of their major properites including Scooby Doo, Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Cats & Dogs, Flintstones, Powerpuff Girls, The Matrix, Conan, and others such as Aquaman. Yes, AOL-Time Warner are planning to develop a live-action Aquaman movie. Finally Time-Warner is current almost done with Baby Looney Tunes. Yes, Baby Looney Tunes, an animated planned for the 2003-2004 season on either Cartoon Network or Kids WB. Guess what, Granny is the nanny of the baby Looney Tunes.
  15. Muppets1985

    Muppets1985 Well-Known Member

    Well said!!! Thats what i was trying to get across for the past year!, Baby Looney Toons (Sick!) see Disney doesn't NEED all the blame, WB is just as bad as Disney (But in my opption WORSE!!!), Now a days just about EVERY company are makeing 2's and 3's NOT just Disney, and with the direct to video thing WB and Universal do it too ex: for WB all that Scooby Doo stuff on video & dvd and ex: for Universal with all of there Lad before Time's theres like what? 13 of them movies and theres 3 or 4 American Tales.
  16. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Bean Bunny

    I see your point, but there a big difference between Disney's classic films and Scooby Doo. Though I enjoy classic Scooby, it was never a high quality project and wasn't a WB project to begin with. Making a cheap sequel to Beauty, Mermaid and Cinderella is a much bigger deal. WB has been scraping the bottom these days, but they are definitely taking their cue from the Mouse.

    Baby Tunes! Eeeek! And I thought Tiny Toons ended up being in poor taste. And they're ripping off the idea from the Muppet Babies (which I never really enjoyed). WB has been on my bad side about Luney Toons since they releaed Space Jam. I found the film to be ridiculous and they didn't even have the respect to contact Chuck Jones for his input.

    Other companies may follow suit in rehashing and disrespecting their classicsm but Disney is certainly king.
  17. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member


    I don't really agree - i think the whole rehashing of ideas is spread evenly right the way across the media including TV, Radio, Print & Film.

    Just look at TV - they have got into the trend of making yearly events of these reality show - Big Brother 1,2,3 , Survivor 1,2,3 etc etc. Movies - basically anything successful from whatever company gets a sequel (or the more trendier prequel - even Henson has fallen into that gravy boat). It's the same with every other media and it's all for two reasons - the media industry is down financially right now, and the more important reason - there is a real lack of original ideas. I think that although Disney is a big player in this department, companies like 20th Century Fox and Warners probably lead the way.

    I agree with Sid that the Muppets need an owner with fire in their belly and a wad of extra cash to boot BUT there simply isn't anyone out there who won't treat the company exactly like WB or Disney would. If a company spends multi-millions on Henson and it looks like their latest project is a turkey or they haven't put enough into promoting the brand then who can blame them for interfering ? Not me !!!!!! As i've said before, i see Disney as the 'next best thing' - we can only hope that they get an idea that part of what they are buying is the tradition and the creativity and do give Henson a degree of independance but the company is sick and does need help. I think Disney would care, otherwise why bother buying the company - it's not like it poses a serious threat like WCW and WWF.
  18. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I feel that your point is moot when comparing a sequel to Big Brother to a sequel on a Disney classic like Peter Pan or Cinderella. That makes absolutely no sense at all to me.
  19. Luke

    Luke Well-Known Member

    Well i was hoping you'd read between the lines on that one Jamie - i am saying that there is a lack of original ideas right the way across the board in media - everywhere, be it films, television etc etc.

    I don't think Disney or any of the other companies are doing all this to be nasty or dumb - they don't have any new ideas and writing talent has gone down considerably over the years - obviously they all have production quotas to fill so they just drag out something that WAS successful and try to resurect that success. What else can they do ?

    Also, if we are going to start comparing the treatment of things - they are treating Muppet Treasure Island far better than they are Peter Pan 2 or any of the other sequels so at least we can be thankful to that, and obviously the original MTI doesn't even begin to compare to the original Peter Pan.
  20. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    Well what you were stating was going way off topic from anything I was saying. I feel that this is an entirely different discussion that I haven't commented on.

    I do see your points, but I don't think that Muppet Treasure Island has or ever will get the fanfare and good treatment that the Peter Pan sequel received. The theatrical release of Muppet Treasure Island was barely promoted in this city when Peter Pan 2 ads saturated the airwaves, busses, billboards and film trailers. I see San Francisco as a good gage on this sort of thing because, like Manhattan, we are bombarded by advertisements (not that I'm complaining, I actually like that).

    When the Little Mermaid 2 was released, there were posters up on every bus shelter in the city months ahead of time. I haven't even seen a flyer or report on MTI. Not that in the scheme of things there needs to be much promotion for it, but I was pointing out that maybe such advertising and promotion is different abroad because I don't know what you were talking about when you said the Disney Company has treated MTI better than films like Peter Pan 2.

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