Ways to Get More Muppets on Disney+

Chilly Down

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Hey, folks--Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

I’m glad that Disney+ has as much Muppet content as it does, but considering the franchise’s vast library, I do wish there was more. As far as the new content goes, I appreciated the attempt with Muppets Now, even though it didn’t really click with me or a lot of others. Oddly, the best new Muppet thing on Disney+ right now is the episode of Prop Culture that goes into the making of The Muppet Movie.

So let’s look at the back catalog in more detail. It’s going to be a long shot to ever get all of TMS on Disney+ due to the music rights issues. It’s not that the largest entertainment company in the world can’t afford to pay the licensing fees; it’s that they don’t think they’ll see enough return on their investment for a faded brand (and they may be right about that).

Still, it’s weird that both the theatrical Muppet movies made since the purchase heavily reference TMS and use it as a building block for their plots, yet younger viewers don’t have access to the classic material on the site to know what’s being referenced in the first place.

So, what are other things Disney could add for a smaller fee that would increase the Muppets’ presence on the service? Here are some ideas that I’m just spitballing, in order from most to least likely:

The Muppets at Walt Disney World. I’m still stunned that this special never got a proper DVD release when Disney bought the Muppets in ‘04. They own it completely (all the music was created for the special), and it would have promoted their (then) new asset and promoted the park. Muppet fans typically love the special, so it would have been an easy sell. I’m no longer holding my breath for this to get a physical media release, but it should be easy enough to add to the site. Of course, the park no longer looks like it did when they made this, but it would make a great addition next year for WDW’s 50th birthday (in the same way that Disney+ added some nostalgic specials for Disneyland’s 70th birthday this year).

The Sony movies. It seems silly for Disney to license movies from other studios when they already have such a huge library, but both of the recent theatrical movies reference Muppets Take Manhattan repeatedly, and the 2011 film features Bobo in a role very similar to the one he played in Muppets from Space. Maybe if Disney ever licenses the Spider-Man movies from Sony, they can pick these up at the same time.

Muppet Classic Theater. This production only has a so-so reputation among many Muppet fans, but again, there are absolutely no rights issues holding it back from being uploaded.

Muppets Tonight. At only one season, the music licensing fees would be lower than for 5 seasons of TMS. There’s undoubtedly enough people nostalgic for the ‘90s to bring in some kind of an audience. I showed one episode to my stepson recently, and he liked it more than I expected!

TMS compilations. I’m not 100% certain, but I would bet the rights to the Playhouse Video compilations such as “Muppet Treasures” and “The Kermit & Piggy Story” have reverted to Disney. These videos would give audiences a taste of TMS while having a much lower licensing fee for the songs. If not the Playhouse videos, how about Disney’s own Muppet Sing-Along videos, or “Meet the Muppets” and “More Muppets, Please”? (I would actually prefer that “The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years” or “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson” get added, but with Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock characters appearing, the rights issues get even more tricky.)

Some classic Muppet Babies episodes. All the film clips used in each episode have kept this show from making it to home video, but how about a small selection of episodes that rely heavily on clips that Disney also now owns, such as Star Wars and Marvel clips? The 2017 Muppet Babies reboot is probably the most successful thing done under the Mouse House ownership, so between nostalgic adults and younger viewers who like the new show, there should be enough interest to warrant the addition of a handful of episodes.

Select TMS episodes. If we can’t get the whole series, what if Disney simply looked to see how many episodes they could add for a reasonable price? Seasons 1 through 3 have been cleared for home video in their entirety (except for the Vincent Price ep), and select episodes of Seasons 4 and 5 were cleared for the Time-Life collection. Other streaming services have also simply skipped episodes of certain series when they didn’t have the rights just for those episodes; while it’s not the most ideal situation, some representation is better than nothing. As noted earlier, Disney owns both the Muppets and Star Wars; how is it that we’ve gone this long without the Star Wars TMS episode having an official release by them?

So those are some of the things I can think of. Of course, I would love an uncut “Muppet Family Christmas” too, but again, I’m not holding my breath. And I’m weirdly kind of glad that "Muppets’ Wizard of Oz” and “Letters to Santa” haven’t made it there yet. If you’re a fan of those productions and/or if you worked on them, I mean no harm. But when the representation of Muppet content is already relatively small, these don’t seem like essential productions to include.

What do you all think? Do you have any suggested additions of your own?
 

DMHFan

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I say that Disney+ should put The Jim Henson Hour, it feels very underrated. But due to issues with the other stuff featured (i.e., The Storyteller), it'd probably be just be the MuppeTelevision segments.
 

jobi71

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Hey, folks--Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while now.

I’m glad that Disney+ has as much Muppet content as it does, but considering the franchise’s vast library, I do wish there was more. As far as the new content goes, I appreciated the attempt with Muppets Now, even though it didn’t really click with me or a lot of others. Oddly, the best new Muppet thing on Disney+ right now is the episode of Prop Culture that goes into the making of The Muppet Movie.

So let’s look at the back catalog in more detail. It’s going to be a long shot to ever get all of TMS on Disney+ due to the music rights issues. It’s not that the largest entertainment company in the world can’t afford to pay the licensing fees; it’s that they don’t think they’ll see enough return on their investment for a faded brand (and they may be right about that).

Still, it’s weird that both the theatrical Muppet movies made since the purchase heavily reference TMS and use it as a building block for their plots, yet younger viewers don’t have access to the classic material on the site to know what’s being referenced in the first place.

So, what are other things Disney could add for a smaller fee that would increase the Muppets’ presence on the service? Here are some ideas that I’m just spitballing, in order from most to least likely:

The Muppets at Walt Disney World. I’m still stunned that this special never got a proper DVD release when Disney bought the Muppets in ‘04. They own it completely (all the music was created for the special), and it would have promoted their (then) new asset and promoted the park. Muppet fans typically love the special, so it would have been an easy sell. I’m no longer holding my breath for this to get a physical media release, but it should be easy enough to add to the site. Of course, the park no longer looks like it did when they made this, but it would make a great addition next year for WDW’s 50th birthday (in the same way that Disney+ added some nostalgic specials for Disneyland’s 70th birthday this year).

The Sony movies. It seems silly for Disney to license movies from other studios when they already have such a huge library, but both of the recent theatrical movies reference Muppets Take Manhattan repeatedly, and the 2011 film features Bobo in a role very similar to the one he played in Muppets from Space. Maybe if Disney ever licenses the Spider-Man movies from Sony, they can pick these up at the same time.

Muppet Classic Theater. This production only has a so-so reputation among many Muppet fans, but again, there are absolutely no rights issues holding it back from being uploaded.

Muppets Tonight. At only one season, the music licensing fees would be lower than for 5 seasons of TMS. There’s undoubtedly enough people nostalgic for the ‘90s to bring in some kind of an audience. I showed one episode to my stepson recently, and he liked it more than I expected!

TMS compilations. I’m not 100% certain, but I would bet the rights to the Playhouse Video compilations such as “Muppet Treasures” and “The Kermit & Piggy Story” have reverted to Disney. These videos would give audiences a taste of TMS while having a much lower licensing fee for the songs. If not the Playhouse videos, how about Disney’s own Muppet Sing-Along videos, or “Meet the Muppets” and “More Muppets, Please”? (I would actually prefer that “The Muppets: A Celebration of 30 Years” or “The Muppets Celebrate Jim Henson” get added, but with Sesame Street and Fraggle Rock characters appearing, the rights issues get even more tricky.)

Some classic Muppet Babies episodes. All the film clips used in each episode have kept this show from making it to home video, but how about a small selection of episodes that rely heavily on clips that Disney also now owns, such as Star Wars and Marvel clips? The 2017 Muppet Babies reboot is probably the most successful thing done under the Mouse House ownership, so between nostalgic adults and younger viewers who like the new show, there should be enough interest to warrant the addition of a handful of episodes.

Select TMS episodes. If we can’t get the whole series, what if Disney simply looked to see how many episodes they could add for a reasonable price? Seasons 1 through 3 have been cleared for home video in their entirety (except for the Vincent Price ep), and select episodes of Seasons 4 and 5 were cleared for the Time-Life collection. Other streaming services have also simply skipped episodes of certain series when they didn’t have the rights just for those episodes; while it’s not the most ideal situation, some representation is better than nothing. As noted earlier, Disney owns both the Muppets and Star Wars; how is it that we’ve gone this long without the Star Wars TMS episode having an official release by them?

So those are some of the things I can think of. Of course, I would love an uncut “Muppet Family Christmas” too, but again, I’m not holding my breath. And I’m weirdly kind of glad that "Muppets’ Wizard of Oz” and “Letters to Santa” haven’t made it there yet. If you’re a fan of those productions and/or if you worked on them, I mean no harm. But when the representation of Muppet content is already relatively small, these don’t seem like essential productions to include.

What do you all think? Do you have any suggested additions of your own?
This to me this is a no brainer. I know the dvds are held up by tons of rights issues with episodes etc. So, let's focus on what we can do. Disney owns - Disney (duh), Star Wars and the Muppets. Why not put out a deluxe issue of this episode. Granted it would involve paying for the opening number and Scooter's number but Disney has one zillion dollars. So if they are taken care of - we have the episode itself. What if they tossed in the Making of Empire Strikes Back with all the segments about Yoda? What if they had interviews or commentary by any/all of the following Frank Oz, Dave Goelz, Mark Hamill, Anthony Daniels, George Lucas, Kathryn Mullen, Spielberg or Landis (not directly involved but they were lurking about), any writers, directors, designers who are still active and with us? Toss in some interviews with Disney stars they wish to promote speaking on the Muppets - it might only be synergy but it's content and I am sure folks like Josh Gad and Kristin Bell have memories of the Muppets. The episode probably runs 20 minutes with no commercials? If you get the participation of half the folks I mention the extras would be about an hour. I would pay top dollar for this. The Muppets, Disney and Star Wars fans buy and collect anything connected with their passion. I am no businessman but this is an item that would sell.
 

Chilly Down

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For some reason, I didn't get an email notification about the responses, so I didn't see them until now. Thanks for your thoughts, DMH Fan and Jobi71!

At any rate, we have great, unexpected news today: Disney+ will have all five seasons of TMS starting next month! :smile::smile::smile: I had no idea this was even in the works, but I'm very grateful for it!
 
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