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The Muppets Studio is a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company formed after the acquisition of The Muppets from The Jim Henson Company in 2004. It should not be confused with "Muppet Studios" which has been used within the fictional confines of several Muppet productions since the 1980s.

The division manages the use of the Muppets characters and trademarks and serves as the production house for Muppet projects under Disney. Since February 2006, the Muppets characters have been built and maintained by the Puppet Heap Workshop.

For the history of previous partnerships and attempts of acquisition, see The Walt Disney Company#Disney and Henson.

Disney's acquisition of the Muppets

The Walt Disney Company welcomes the Muppets into the Disney family in the 2004 Annual Report.

The Walt Disney Company and The Jim Henson Company announced on February 17, 2004 that they had entered into an agreement under which Disney would acquire the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House properties from Henson. The parties signed a binding purchase agreement, with the transaction closing in April 2004 after receiving the necessary regulatory clearances. Disney formed the Muppets Holding Company, LLC to manage the assets (this was later changed to The Muppets Studio).

The transaction included all Muppet assets, including the characters (Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, etc), the Muppet film and television library (exempting some distribution deals), and all associated copyrights and trademarks. It also included all the Bear in the Big Blue House characters, television library, copyrights, and trademarks. The transaction did not include the Sesame Street characters, which by that point were separately owned by Sesame Workshop, nor did it include Fraggle Rock and other franchises retained by The Jim Henson Company. The deal also included non-exclusive production and consulting agreements under which Henson would develop potential new programming featuring the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House for Disney.

Sesame Workshop has permission from Disney to use old Kermit material from Sesame Street in new DVD releases and online. Since the Disney acquisition, Kermit has made new appearances in Elmo's World: Frogs and Sesame Street's 50th Anniversary Celebration. Kermit has also appeared on the covers of several Sesame Street DVDs such as Silly Storytime and Best of Sesame Street Spoofs!. Lionsgate got permission from Disney to use the Muppets characters on the 2010 DVD releases of Henson's Place, Sesame Street: 20 and Still Counting, and Dog City: The Movie.

Management

Kermit and Animal in front of the Disney logo as seen in the second trailer for The Muppets

Muppets Holding Company VP and General Manager Chris Curtin with Pepe the King Prawn at a Disney properties conference discussing upcoming projects for the Muppets on July 11th, 2005.

The Muppets Studio's place within the Disney organization has changed over the years. First being placed into Disney's Consumer Products unit, The Muppets Studio was then transferred to the special events group of Walt Disney Studios.[1]

By 2015, they were managed under DCPI (Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media) as part of the Labs group.[2][3] DCPI later merged with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts to form the Disney Parks, Experiences and Products segment.[4]

Since approximately 2019, the Muppets have been a part of Walt Disney Imagineering.[5]

Managers

Productions

The Muppets Studio has managed every Muppet production for Disney since 2005, beginning with The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, a television movie that was already in development with ABC prior to Disney's purchase of the Muppets.

The Muppets Studio logo became the signature on productions of the company; web series such as From the Balcony and The Muppets Kitchen with Cat Cora, television specials like Studio DC: Almost Live on Disney Channel, and A Muppets Christmas: Letters to Santa which aired on NBC. The logo was also added to home video releases by Buena Vista Home Entertainment (including The Muppet Show season box sets, Kermit's 50th Anniversary Edition DVDs, and other Muppet titles).

In 2007, The Muppets Studio collaborated with Walt Disney Imagineering to create the Muppet Mobile Lab. In 2009, the company launched an official YouTube channel, a promotional Twitter feed, and an official Facebook page. In late 2009-early 2010, the Muppets were featured in the Give a Day. Get a Disney Day. campaign for Disneyland and Walt Disney World. In 2012, an interactive game featuring the Muppets, The Case of the Stolen Show, debuted aboard the newest Disney Cruise ship, the Disney Fantasy.

In 2011, a new theatrical Muppet movie was released through Walt Disney Pictures, entitled The Muppets. This was followed by Muppets Most Wanted, released in 2014. The Muppets' television ventures under Disney include The Muppets (2015-2016) for ABC, Muppet Babies, a CGI Disney Junior series co-produced with Oddbot Animation, and Muppets Now, produced exclusively for the Disney+ streaming service.

Logos

Sources

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