- Jun 19, 2005
- Reaction score
Henson needs a business partner. Even back in Jim's day, they needed Lew Grande and eventually Columbia. And as I've said multiple times before, they've had absolutely crappy business partners. HiT clearly only wanted to work with Henson for a Fraggle Rock movie, and then dumped them when it was delayed. The
Fatso Stupid Oscar BaitWeinstein company only cared about the cheap DTV Shrek WannabeUnstable Fables set and delayed the crap out of the FR movie until they lost the license (their business practices are insane, let's leave it at that), Lionsgate just released a bunch of videos and wanted nothing else... and no one else wants to come in.
I don't think HiT or Lionsgate were ever partnered with Henson to make the Fraggle Rock movie. They just had the video rights. It is a little sad how Henson STILL hasn't been able to get the Fraggle Rock movie or Dark Crystal prequel released, considering those properties are quite popular, and in an age where '80s nostalgia is big. Then again, I think the Fraggle Rock movie has changed hands distributor-wise because of disagreements over using "edgy" humor (or at least the writer had disagreements over that, don't know what Henson's point of view on the subject was).
Of course, if Henson hadn't sold the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House franchises, we probably wouldn't have gotten so much Fraggle Rock stuff (we probably would have gotten DVDs). During Henson's last few years of Muppet ownership their main focus seemed to be on the Muppets. Bear in the Big Blue House, the Creature Shop, Sesame Street, and to a certain extent whatever television shows were in production at the time. Columbia Home Video never released any Fraggle Rock videos (not sure if it was because of Columbia or Henson), and Palisades turned down the prospects of making Fraggle Rock figures because of lack of retailer support (though it seems there were quite a few Fraggle plush and DVDs at the time, or maybe that was after the sale). Once the Muppets were out of Henson's hands, they were suddenly getting Fraggle Rock on DVD, and have slowly gotten out more Fraggle merchandise and rebuilt the puppets for new appearances. And Henson seems to have also slowly put out more of its older titles that hadn't gotten much attention in years... I'd like to say that the company paid attention again to Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas (even though it had been on DVD before then), and slowly more '80s and early '90s Henson productions were being released on DVD, and by now more obscure titles (like Doozer Music and Peek-A-Boo) are available digitally. There's still stuff Henson owns that haven't had releases since 2004, like Billy Bunny's Animal Songs, Aliens in the Family, and Family Rules.
When Disney bought the Muppets and I heard about what they got the distribution rights to, I was excited. Disney owns its own home video company and a number of TV channels (Henson always had to partner with other video distributors and cable channels). I figured that all that Muppet stuff would be widely available, whether on DVD or on The Disney Channel/ABC Family/ABC. I can't remember if it was becoming rare at the time for old programs to be rebroadcast heavily (and now it seems older shows are making a comeback). It's a little surprising that more of the stuff Henson retains the rights to have been released on video than what Disney got the rights to. But maybe it helps that the majority of what Henson retains don't require music clearances while the majority of what Disney got do require clearances.
Henson had usually retained the rights to all characters it created as well as retaining television distribution of the majority of its shows, but needed to parter with other companies for other things. Henson needed to partner with Hallmark for The Odyssey Channel and Kermit Channel, I assume they needed other companies to distribute the various Muppet video games and software, other companies needed to release Muppet albums, and Henson always needed a major film distributor to release its films (even if Henson did eventually get the rights back for some films), and of course while Henson has had many video labels, it always needed a more major video company to distribute them. And it seems these deals rarely last more than five years (the Columbia Home Video deal seems to have been the longest, lasting from 1998-2004, coincidentally ending when Disney got the Muppets and Bear). I wonder why these contracts weren't renewed after five years (I can see Columbia being disinterested in renewing when they could no longer release Muppet or Bear videos).