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Why did MFS and EIG bomb so bad?

Discussion in 'Classic Muppets' started by BobThePizzaBoy, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. BobThePizzaBoy

    BobThePizzaBoy Well-Known Member

    I was thinking about this. According to Box Office Mojo MFSmade only $16.6 million and EIG only made $11.6 million. Just for comparison Thomas and the Magic Railroad made $15.9 million, Barney's Great Adventure made $12.2 million playing in a lot less theaters than EIG and Doug's 1st Movie made $19.4 mllion and Jonah: A VeggieTales Movie made $25.8 million. I thought that the Muppets and Sesame Street had way more appeal with audiences and more notability than those shows. Can anyone explain what happened?
  2. RedPiggy

    RedPiggy Well-Known Member

    Personally, I didn't see all that much wrong with MFS (didn't ever see the other one ... took me awhile to figure out what the acronym was LOL). I would guess, though, that turning Gonzo from a whatever to an alien really ticked people off.
  3. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    My idea - the films just weren't as good as the legacy

    Personally I didn't like MFS. It's a better video than a theatrical film. There was so much promise, but the final piece had the Muppet cast appearing to be bored and doing very little. We know now this was a choice from the director (the same one as the eventual Garfield films). Love or hate MFS, we can all agree that the Muppets deserve the best and that just wasn't it. Sony and Henson seemed to acknowledge the film was a bomb when they yanked it from release very quickly. It ultimately had a healthy home video life. MFS bombed because it was by design the least Muppety of the 6 films. No original musical numbers, very little snappy dialogue and a lot less magic = box office flop. It caused the pubic to perceive the Muppets in an identity crisis and they were dismissed as being no longer relevant for many years. They really should have stayed with the original writers and director.

    Elmo in Grouchland flopped because parents were less willing to pay for something kids can see everyday for free and classic fans don’t connect with Elmo as we do with other characters. Oscar in Grouchland might have played better. In fact – Oscar was sorely missing most of the time considering this was a Grouch-themed movie. It also wasn’t as well-written as the average special or SS episode. This came out around the time of MFS.

    Ultimately both films weren’t up to snuff and the creative teams behind them seemed to know that. Both had marketing pushes, but audiences didn’t catch on so to save box office embarrassment they quickly went to video. That’s my reasoning. I hope future films learn from the mistakes of these films – don’t forsake what made you famous and hide it in the background. Push the unique classic Muppet freakiness up front and fans will come in droves.
  4. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    MFS may have not have done well at the box office (and I personally think it had problems), but for reason some reason there always seems to be more copies of it in the stores than the other films. And last time I checked, it's the only Muppet movie on Hulu. Like the movie or not, I think it's a shame that it seems to get more attention than the original three films.
  5. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    you can find all of the Muppet movie on youtube
  6. heralde

    heralde Well-Known Member

    Yeah but I mean as far as the official company releases, there seem to be this need to push MFS more than the others.
  7. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    It's the latest release and doesn't look as dated (or have a period-look) as previous releases. That's likely why it's pushed the most. That and it's not a Disney release. It's Sony like MTM (the second most pushed Muppet film these days).
  8. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Muppets From Space came out in theatres when Space Movies were really huge (I don't know the exact date, but I remember associating it with Space Jam and Star Wars Phantom Menace? Am I right about that?) And for that reason, it seemed a little bit of a sell-out even before it began.

    However, I also wonder whether the trailer itself was just not trying. I've always thought of the MFS trailer as being one of the worst trailers ever seen (although it had funnier lines than the movie in some places). Elmo in Grouchland seems the same. The trailer is just a mess and it's very hard to tell what's really happening.
  9. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    For some reason, movies made between 1999(Fight Club, Being John Malkovich, Matrix, etc) and ever since look like they could have been filmed last year.

    Whereas 50's, 60's, 70's, early to mid 80's, late 80's, early 90's, and mid 90's films ALL have an extremely specific and distinct time period look...most films made by 1999 and after still look new and do not look dated at all.
  10. beaker

    beaker Well-Known Member

    I think the real reason MFS royally bombed is because Muppets are underground, and its been that way since the 90's. Muppet fans seem more underground and niche than even say Firefly or Henson's own Farscape brand in some respects(certainly in an online presence)

    Another big reason is because of the time: The Muppets 'retro/nostalgia=cool' phase did not kick into full force til 2002(re: Weezer's Muppet video), so this was squarely aimed at children. Well, a lot of kids aren't too familiar with the Muppets, and many might just assume it to be Sesame Street.

    And finally, as Jamie said...it was in many ways too far removed from its roots.

    I personally find the first 20 minutes of MFS visionary. The whole opening number in the boarding house is pure Muppet magic. I also love how this is the first time we see Pepe shine and come into his own as one of the main characters. I felt after Gonzo got kidnapped it went significantly downhill; but *since* its release on dvd Ive grown a new appreciation for it.

    I would now have to say my top favorite Muppet movies/specials in order would be:(fave to least fave)

    Muppet Family Christmas
    Muppets Take Manhattan
    Muppet Movie
    Muppets @ Walt Disney World
    Muppets Remember Jim Henson
    Muppets From Space
    MuppetVision 3D
    A Very Mery Muppet Christmas
    Great Muppet Caper
    Letters To Santa
    Emmet Otter's Jugband
    Muppets Treasure Island
    Muppet Christmas Carol
    Kermit's Swamp Years
  11. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    While I don't feel the Muppets are really underground, I do feel that between Jim Henson's passing until recently they haven't had a very solid promotional effort that worked. Jim was the driving force that wouldn't quit. Nobody else has had that stamina, spirit and vision since then. There's been too much devaluing and second guessing.

    The first few minutes of MFS were great, but it fell apart after that. It's what happens when a company hires a novice director who is easily pliable to a studio's notes. They provide a good trailer and title sequence, but don't really know what to do with the rest...like the actual movie. The original director seemed to have a lot of ideas that were dismissed for being too interesting. :o

    I attribute the good scenes to the talented performers and traces of writers that had been dismissed by lesser talents. MFS was a mess. It does have some moments and scenes, but it's not a compelling film. It was like watching paint dry - but with Muppets. Sure, Muppets make everything better, but why didn't Tim Hill want to give them something better to do? Without Pepe that film would have almost been unwatchable.
  12. TML

    TML Active Member

    Muppet Family Christmas
    Muppets Take Manhattan
    Muppet Movie
    Muppets @ Walt Disney World
    Muppets Remember Jim Henson
    Muppets From Space
    MuppetVision 3D
    A Very Mery Muppet Christmas
    Great Muppet Caper
    Letters To Santa
    Emmet Otter's Jugband
    Muppets Treasure Island
    Muppet Christmas Carol
    Kermit's Swamp Years

    Are you kidding me? Why is the Great Muppet Caper so low on your list? Am I the ONLY person who thinks that is the best Muppet film of them all? The songs are top notch, the best of all the movies. The jokes are fast and funny, spot on. The reoccuring lame jokes like, "what color are their hands now" and the lightbulb falling out are pure Muppets. The opening number, the number at the supper club and Piggy's under water number! Plus they put a great moment in there for practically every Muppet Show character and they don't feel forced. And then, there is the fantastic bike riding scene! The Muppets were never more revolutionary or better on film. TGMC is, in my opinion, the best of em all. It seems I'm so alone on this. :o
    Muppet Master likes this.
  13. Jivepuppet

    Jivepuppet Member

    Love MFS!

    I wrote a whole article on my blog a couple weeks ago about this movie...
    And some ideas as to why it failed...
    Here's the link
  14. Drtooth

    Drtooth Well-Known Member

    I blame it on the fact it was a very competitive summer, with EVERYONE trying to compete with Phantom Menace... I didn't get to see that film until October. I can remember most of the movies from that year, all of them used "All Star" in the sound track, by the way.... but I can't remember a single one being as big a hit as Star Wars... or even in the running. There were a lot of flops like Mystery Men, Inspector Gadget (which, frankly, I didn't understand the point of them making at that point... the people who were old enough to remember it didn't have kids, and the kids the movie was made for didn't have a clue who he was... least I got a great bean bag Gadget and Brain out of it), and Dudley Do-Right which was a directionless, miscast (except for Inspector Fenwick and Snidley) mess.


    Had it come out, let's say winter vactation (Febuary/March) it would have at least got a wider school children audience. Plus, if they hyped the movie up at all, maybe more people would have been open to it. I saw it at a bargain theater, mind you, and it was a packed house both times I saw it.

    As for EIG, I'm agreeing with Frogboy... not to mention the fact that it was a brilliant idea on paper. I mean, Elmo-mania was sweeping the country and all... but his audience is mainly comprised of 23 year olds... have you ever seen a three year old at the movies? You mean, you're taking a child that young to the movies? Can't be done. Why it wasn't a DTV thing is beyond me.
  15. Vic Romano

    Vic Romano Active Member

    Wow. You know I've read the opinions on MFS a thousand times on here, and I am always so blown away how much fans dislike this movie. I admit that I was just flat out biased and favored a complete dismissal of the Muppets after Jim died because I believed they could never come close again to that level so why even bother.

    I happened to really enjoy MFS, but I can see and appreciate now why most fans did not. It seems it's a frustrating movie because in a way, it did temporarily smudge the Muppets and make everyone question their appeal. But I always say the reason I enjoyed it so much was because the Muppets went back to playing themselves instead of playing other characters.

    It did lack a healthy amount of that Muppet zaniness, although I always thought the talking sandwich was classic stuff. I guess if I had a major complaint about it, it would be that for a movie where Gonzo was the star, it should have been a LOT sillier and weirder.
  16. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    At the time they came out I was really excited, and saw them as really great movies, and were higher on my list of favorite Muppet and Sesame Street productions.

    For Muppets From Space, it felt like a big deal at the time, since it was the first Muppet movie since Jim's death where the Muppets played themselves, and it was the first Muppet movie since Muppets Tonight, so it was cool seeing which Muppets Tonight characters were included (though I still wish Seymour was a part of it).

    Also, Muppets Tonight had a bigger focus on new characters than old characters, so it was a treat seeing so many classic characters in the film. It also felt like a big deal because Rowlf, Dr. Teeth, and Scooter were all given dialogue, not to mention that it was Scooter's first on-screen appearance following Richard Hunt's death. Of course, Rowlf and Dr. Teeth have had brief dialogue prior to the film, though I was unaware that Dr. Teeth was recast for Days of Swine and Roses. Of course, since then these characters and other Henson/ Hunt characters have been given dialogue in other, better productions. Though at times it still feels like a big deal whenever Rowlf, Scooter, Dr. Teeth, or Janice (and now that list includes Jerry Nelson's characters, to a lesser extent) have lines.

    Of course, at the time I was and still am disapointed on the lack of Muppet musicial numbers (I was hoping for the mayhem to perform), as well as the revelation of what Gonzo is (even though they weren't that specific).

    As for Elmo in Grouchland, I was excited. Sesame Street only had one other movie (which was the better of the two), so it was sort of a big deal. I didn't get to see it until it came out on video (I didn't have a drivers license at the time), and I also thought it was good at the time, despite the lack of so many characters. I was hoping for the street scenes to look more like the ones in FTB (I may explain on this later).
  17. minor muppetz

    minor muppetz Well-Known Member

    I disagree. I feel like it's the most dated. The others (where they play themselves) have a timeless look and feel, while this one seems more contemporary (should I count MCC or MTI as being dated? They were supposed to take place in the past).
  18. frogboy4

    frogboy4 Inactive Member

    I still see that the photography and fashion in MFS more closely resemble modern life than (*either dated or period-looking) films like TMM, MTM, GMC, MCC and MTI. It's more approachable for a wider audience on the cosmetic level and that's one reason why it makes the rounds more often. It did have that funky 70s theme, but that was mainly the music.

    The cameos were dated and strange when it was released - even more so now. The Muppets used to get the best and brightest, but not this time out. The only star in MFS to be more popular now than at the time is Kathy Griffen. Strange, huh? I do think opening the picture with F Murray Abraham was a timeless and classy touch.

    Once the Muppets hit the living room to watch UFO Mania Live, the film quickly fell downhill (or Tim Hill as I like to think of it) for this classic fan. I actually cried after seeing the film in the theaters. It was that bad at that moment. No film has crushed my spirit and hopes like MFS did that day. I thought Tim Hill had killed the Muppets for years to come...and, well, I was kind of right. It's been a long road back. It just wasn't good filmmaking.

    I still watch scenes from time to time, and it has a few good moments, but the magic left MFS when Jerry Juhl did. He is/was the voice of the Muppets. Sony and Henson did the Muppets a disservice the day they let him walk away from the project. I could go into countless details, but really that’s the gist of what I feel is wrong with the picture. After I discovered what had happened the rest of it made sense to me.

    Jim was the heart of the Muppets, Jerry was the voice and Frank was the key performer and none were present on the set of MFS. Dave Goelz and Bill Barretta did an amazing job as always and are the only reasons I can watch MFS. That and Scooter. ;)
  19. dwayne1115

    dwayne1115 Well-Known Member

    Why dwell on the past? We have some great news out from Hollywood about another Muppet production. Lets do like our new president and not dwell on the past and look ahead. Yes both MFS and EIG had there problems from day one, but look where the Muppets are now in just this past year we have won a Webby and now We are up for an Emmy!
    I think the dark ages of the Muppets are starting to end and we are now starting to see them come back, and this time they are back for good!
  20. Beauregard

    Beauregard Well-Known Member

    Up for an Emmy! Oooh! (Though I'd settle for a Jackie or a Joggy)

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