Muppet make-over: Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy reintroduced this fall
It may not be easy being green like Muppet favorite Kermit the Frog, but sometimes it's even harder to be hip.
(Page 2 of 3)
The freshening of both former Henson enterprises comes at a time when the traditional divide separating youth entertainment from adult entertainment is shrinking thanks to the troubled economy, which is allowing young adults to hold on to their adolescence longer than their parents did, and the proliferation of home technology, such as sophisticated video-gaming consoles and mobile devices, that not only delivers more around-the-clock entertainment but requires users, even young children, to be both savvy programmers and consumers.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Todd Lieberman, who coproduced the new film, says the intention all along was to reach a general audience – "We're not making entertainment specifically for children," he says – because the characters are so rich and have the ability to work on different levels.
"The Muppets are a couple of generations old in a good way," he says. "When I was a child, I appreciated them as a child, and now that I'm significantly older, I appreciate them in a completely different way, and there are hopefully lots and lots of people like me."
The Disney 'hipster' effect
Since acquiring the Muppets, Disney tried a "Wizard of Oz" reimagining that failed because it was solely tailored for children. Momentum behind the new film, "The Muppets," in theaters Nov. 23, was stronger because of its team: writers Nick Stoller and Jason Segel, the duo behind the R-rated comedies "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Get Him to the Greek," and director James Bobin, best known for his writing and directing roles in "Da Ali G Show" on HBO.
While still G-rated fare, the film's self-referential humor – designed for hipster tastes – is a direct result of its new handlers. "There was something contemporary and dare I say 'hip' about their involvement," says coproducer David Hoberman.
Mr. Hoberman says reaching as broad an audience as possible means the possibility of replicating the success of "The Smurfs," another retooled franchise from many decades back that became a worldwide hit this summer, earning Sony $135 million globally and continued revenues in toys and video games. A sequel has already been announced for next year.
Sean Phillips, the executive producer for Yahoo! Movies and Yahoo! Kids, says that because Disney subsidiaries include theme parks, television networks, and toy lines, the company is now primarily interested in "multidimensional franchises" that operate on all levels and "not just as movies."