It was one year ago today that the news broke of Disney buying the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House from the Jim Henson Company. The transaction included all Muppet assets, including the Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and other characters, the Muppet film and television library, and all associated copyrights and trademarks, as well as all the Bear in the Big Blue House characters, television library, copyrights and trademarks. The deal also included production and consulting agreements under which The Jim Henson Company will develop potential new programming featuring the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House for Disney until at least 2008 . Many people were skeptical of the deal, due to Disney's reputation, but so far Muppet fans have had little to complain about.
Although 2004 had what some would consider "little Muppet action" (although iit was probably more than 2003), Disney has begun to do great things. Some of the things done so far include: forming the Muppet Holding Co. to manage the Muppets, they Re-launched Muppets.com, they put the Muppets on a bunch of TV shows & ads (Saturday Night Live, Disney Christmas Parade, Good Morning America, Pizza Hut, Dr. Pepper, The Apprentice...), and they continued to support and produce other Muppet works already in progress before the deal (The Muppets Wizard of Oz TV-move. US postage stamps, final series of Palisades toys...) The deal also allowed The Jim Henson Company, now free of the Muppet, became able to concentrate on their other properties and productions in their Family Showcase (like Fraggle Rock) and Sci-Fi & Fantasy Library.
That list may seem a little disappointing to the hard-core Muppet fan expecting the deal to sky-rocket the Muppets back on top. But rest assured, this first year was a year of transition, and allowing Disney to get situated and acquainted. Already in the first year Disney has started many projects which should be coming out in 2005 and 2006. These projects include Muppet Show season set DVD, Disney theme park attractions, other DVD/VHS re-releases and special editions of Muppet productions, other Muppet productions, Muppet merchandise, and much more! So although the first year may not have been the most exciting year ever, 2005 and 2006 may be even better as Disney gets more acquainted with Kermit and the gang. So far Disney has done little to upset or disappoint Muppet fans, and I think as the Muppets settle into their new home we will be able to see great things.