Disney completes acquisition of the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House
Entertainment Support for the Characters Ramps Up; Chris Curtin Named Vice President & General Manager
of Disney Consumer Products
The Walt Disney Company has completed its previously announced acquisition of the "Muppets" and "Bear in the Big Blue House" properties from The Jim Henson Company, it was announced today by Michael Eisner, chief executive officer of the company.
Disney has already begun integrating these characters into the company. Kermit and Miss Piggy appeared on the widely-watched inaugural episode of The Nick and Jessica Variety Show on ABC. Other initiatives actively under consideration include live action releases, theatrical productions, computer-generated three-dimensional animation projects and attractions and parades at Disney's theme parks.
Chris Curtin, former synergy head for the company and special assistant to Michael Eisner, has been named Vice President and General Manager of the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House business and will oversee the day-to-day operations of the unit that will operate as part of Disney Consumer Products.
"We are passionate about these properties and are honored to be able to carry on the creative legacy started by Jim Henson," said Eisner. "Chris has done an outstanding job of galvanizing the entire company behind Disney's wonderful assets, whether it was a new movie, television season, theme park attraction or an anniversary. I am confident that Chris is the right person to extend these favorite characters to new generations and are resolved to put the full creative and marketing power of The Walt Disney Company behind the Muppets."
Under the terms of the deal, Disney acquired all Muppets assets, including rights to the Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and Animal characters, the Muppet film and television library, worldwide distribution and licensing rights and all associated copyrights and trademarks, as well as the "Bear in the Big Blue House" characters, television library, copyrights and trademarks. The deal also includes non-exclusive production and consulting agreements under which The Jim Henson Company is expected to develop potential new programming featuring the "Muppets" and "Bear in the Big Blue House" for Disney. The transaction does not include the "Sesame Street" characters, such as Big Bird and Elmo, which are owned by Sesame Workshop.
"We are thrilled by the enthusiastic welcome the Muppets have already received from the many divisions of The Walt Disney Company since the deal was announced just over a month ago," said Lisa Henson, co-chair and co-CEO of The Jim Henson Company. "Michael Eisner's passion for continuing my father's legacy has been demonstrated by the high quality projects being discussed."
About Disney Consumer Products
Disney Consumer Products (DCP) is the division of The Walt Disney Company that extends the Disney brand to merchandise ranging from apparel, toys, home dicor and books to interactive games, food and beverages, electronics and fine art. This is accomplished through the work of the division's various lines of business: Disney Toys, Disney Softlines, Disney Hardlines, Disney Publishing, Buena Vista Games and Baby Einstein. The Disney Store also falls under DCP and carries mostly exclusive, non-licensed merchandise.