"The Muppet Movie" returns to theaters July 25 and July 30 2019 for its 40th anniversary

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Chilly Down

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I'm guessing it was either misinformation or the rights for theatrical distribution are different from home video/tv. The only movie I know of that Universal had distributed with the Muppets was The Great Muppet Caper, as The Muppet Movie was released independently by ITC, so that makes things interesting too.
Thanks, Bliffenstimmers! I posted about this on FB as well, and a friend confirmed that Universal does own the theatrical distribution rights. Like you, I had known about Caper -- and The Dark Crystal, too, if memory serves -- but TMM surprised me.

(There's a similar situation with The Princess Bride, where Fox owns the theatrical rights but not the home video, since they sold those back when the movie underperformed at the box office, even though now it's become a bona fide classic.)

I wonder if owning those theatrical rights has something to do with why NBC Universal still has some interest in the Muppets, with them showing up on Jimmy Fallon and America's Got Talent with some regularity. Then again, it's probably just a coincidence.

And while I agree with Cookie3001 up to a point -- I also like seeing things as they originally were in the theaters -- any studio re-releasing a movie is going to want their name on it, and a Universal logo (or any other) at the beginning isn't going to ruin my overall enjoyment of seeing TMM on the big screen again. :smile:
 

minor muppetz

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The thing about Universal is something I've wondered about for years, as I had grown up seeing the Universal logo on TV broadcasts of The Great Muppet Caper, and for a long time I had seen The Muppet Movie without a company logo (I had a television taping that started right at the beginning, after the logo would have been shown). Then on Muppet Wiki somebody informed me that Universal became the American distributor of ITC's content, and in Jim Henson: The Biography it said that when Jim purchased the rights to The Dark Crystal he still had to deal with Universal as the American distributor, with no further talk about that (I figured Universal had a temporary deal and eventually the distribution rights to the ITC films would eventually revert back to ITC - or whoever purchased distribution rights, in the case of Henson). I have occasionally seen news footage showing clips from Henson's work that lists Universal as providing film clips which I thought was odd, but I thought maybe they were just crediting who provided the footage but not the copyright holder/distributor.

And last week I was looking at openings for a number of old home video releases, and was surprised to see the Universal Pictures logo at the beginning of the 1999 VHS release of The Dark Crystal as well as the Blu-ray, I would have thought it'd no longer have to be included, especially since the Universal logo doesn't appear in the 1994 VHS release (which instead opens with the Jim Henson Productions logo sequence). After that I wasn't so shocked to see that it's on the original VHS release of The Dark Crystal, but then I saw the openings to the 20th Century Fox Home Video and CBS/FOX Video releases of GMC, and those don't have an opening logo sequence at all (aside from one for the home video companies). Then I saw on the wiki that Universal still holds the theatrical distribution rights (though a "citations needed" tag was placed there). I guess I've never really thought about there being a difference in distribution rights for theatrical releases, but then again, not a lot of movies get theatrical rereleases anymore (these Fanthom releases seem somewhat different from wide theatrical rereleases).

I also thought it was odd that the release information about this Fanthom release said it's because of arrangements between Henson and Universal, but wouldn't Disney need to be involved as opposed to Henson (though Henson does keep most physical pre-2004 Muppet items - including films and master tapes - in their archives)?
 
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