Question about "Follow that Bird"

YellowYahooey

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I learned on Muppet Wiki that the 1985 film Sesame Street Presents Follow That Bird didn't do well in the box office, and it nearly impacted the CTW negatively, though they did successfully recover.

Do you suppose the movie didn't do well in the box office because of the success of the movie The Goonies at the time?
 

Muppet Master

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It was up against films like Back to the Future, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and Pee-wee's Big Adventure.

Though "Follow That Bird" was not some sort of toddler film and had some legitimately dark moments, I'm sure many just assumed it was something meant for a very young crowd and avoided it. PBS Kids IPs have been notorious bombs at the box office, likely for that reason (see: Thomas and the Magic Railroad & Barney's Great Adventure).
 

LittleJerry92

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I remember as a kid how super excited I was getting to see “Thomas” on the big screen back in 2000. It especially felt really cool seeing the British train series cross-over with its American introduction series “Shining Time Station” which I also have fond memories of watching on PBS in addition to my (very often) over watched library of Thomas tapes from seasons 1-4 (and ones I was also lucky to find at video stores).

Hoooooo boy did I not realize how DRASTICALLY my thoughts would change with age. It’s completely aged like expired foot-smelling lumpy cottage cheese milk for me. My dad fell asleep watching when he saw it with me, and honestly I don’t blame him at all.

“Barney’s Great Adventure” I remember casually seeing on PBS and thought it was just okay. Though I did also think it was pretty cool seeing the show in movie format.
 

YellowYahooey

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It was up against films like Back to the Future, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, and Pee-wee's Big Adventure.
I think Back to the Future was the most popular of the three. It had a much broader audience due to its PG rating and Steven Spielberg's films were known for being box office smashes. And in my opinion, Back to the Future was far better than Follow That Bird (I never saw the film due to having outgrown Sesame Street earlier that year). Back to the Future was what may have weakened popularity of The Goonies in the box office, though I believe I may have saw The Goonies in July 1985.

I also found out just now that Big Bird appeared on NBC's Today show and on CBC News in Canada to promote the film in the summer of 1985 (That CBC newscast, Midday, was aired immediately after Canadian Sesame Street on a daily basis in the mid-1980s). He was even asked on CBC if Snuffy would ever be revealed, and he responded along the lines of "maybe someday." And look at what happened four months later.

I was also amazed that the movie was set mostly in Canada, so maybe this film could qualify as Canadian content. Not to mention that John Candy, one of the comedians who appeared in the film, was also from Canada.

PBS Kids IPs have been notorious bombs at the box office, likely for that reason (see: Thomas and the Magic Railroad & Barney's Great Adventure).
So does that mean Elmo in Grouchland also bombed at the box office?
 

Muppet Master

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So does that mean Elmo in Grouchland also bombed at the box office?
Elmo in Grouchland was a colossal bomb at the box office, it's almost notorious for being so. It grossed just $11 million against a $26 million budget. It's possible it made some money back through VHS and merchandise sales, but it was a textbook case of a box office flop.

If Elmo in Grouchland and Muppets From Space had done well, it's likely we would have had several Muppet/Sesame theatrical releases in the 2000s.
 

YellowYahooey

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I wonder what bombed the worst - Follow That Bird, or Elmo in Grouchland?

Either way, the Workshop had since realized that Sesame Street films are not fit for the box office, which is why there hasn't been one since, and the Workshop is not willing to take chances anymore.
 

YellowYahooey

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Elmo in Grouchland was a colossal bomb at the box office, it's almost notorious for being so. It grossed just $11 million against a $26 million budget. It's possible it made some money back through VHS and merchandise sales, but it was a textbook case of a box office flop.

If Elmo in Grouchland and Muppets From Space had done well, it's likely we would have had several Muppet/Sesame theatrical releases in the 2000s.
This probably explains the absence of Muppet theatrical releases until The Muppets in 2011 - and that was horrible (based on the comments I read somewhere), plus it was given a rating of PG due to certain content that is not suitable for young children.

I personally think Muppets have been losing appeal by many for some years now. I wonder how Sesame Street is doing in the ratings these days.
 

Muppet Master

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This probably explains the absence of Muppet theatrical releases until The Muppets in 2011 - and that was horrible (based on the comments I read somewhere), plus it was given a rating of PG due to certain content that is not suitable for young children.

I personally think Muppets have been losing appeal by many for some years now. I wonder how Sesame Street is doing in the ratings these days.
The Muppets 2011 is not a film I would classify as "horrible". It received critical acclaim and performed reasonably well at the box office, grossing $165M worldwide on a $45M budget. However, I can see why some would consider it to be too sappy and wildly overrated. It definitely comes nowhere near the original trilogy.

I find the PG rating ironic, because this was quite possibly the tamest Muppet film to be released and yet is the first theatrical release to get one. Nowadays, studios are desperate to avoid the dreaded "G" rating and include the bare minimum amount of "adult content" to get their family films to a PG so they can be seen as something with a little bit of edge.

The content in the movie was nowhere near enough for it to get a PG. Every Muppet film that came before it (aside from maybe Muppet Christmas Carol) deserved a PG rating more than the 2011 one.
 

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In addition, I did watch Thomas and the Magic Railroad during several years ago. While it was somewhat enjoyable, it was definitely filled with a lot of confusing problems (which I am not going to mention right now), and does not work to its full potential as a result.

It’s a case where its American introduction series “Shining Time Station” was forced into the plot.

It could have easily just done fine as a made for TV movie exclusive to American audiences for “Shining Time Station” like how “Thomas and the U.K. Trip” was made exclusively for Japan during the production of season 3. You could film all the train stuff in the U.K. and the live action stuff in the U.S. and have George do all the voices for the characters and it could have done much better. I mean seriously, he had a GREAT range of voices for the characters in his narrations.

“The Great Discovery” is what honestly would have worked better for a theatrical movie, and it could have just as easily worked to continue with the more darker tones season 5 was going for.
 
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