Play the music and light the lights. The emergence of more Marvel and Muppets in the Disney theme parks is enough to make the future look very bright! Disney must balance so many properties these days that there is only enough slots during the yearly theatrical schedule to place movies. A few are reserved for “Disney proper,” whereas others must account for Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar.
Likewise, many of the Disney theme parks’ newest offerings are not “originals,” but rather come from preexisting brands. Two Disney brands gaining more exposure in the parks come from arenas that have been relatively absent in Disney parks: Marvel and the Muppets.
Disney epitomizes branding at its best, using characters and stories across all types of platforms, from digital apps and toys to theme park attractions and virtual experiences. The company’s slate of films in the coming years reflect enhancing established properties and creating new ones in the process. Which Disney films are on their way to seeing sequels, and how can they continue the strength of the brand, as opposed to crippling the franchise?
Peter Pan would say that “faith, trust and pixie dust” would do the trick. We all know, though, that timing, effort and imagination are equally as important.
Disney is reportedly quite unhappy with the scathing reviews and middling box office of Muppets Most Wanted, the latest big screen outing of the late Jim Henson’s adorable felt creations. Thus they have announced today that the beloved characters will be taken in a completely different direction for their next feature film.
The studio has decided to unite The Muppets with two of their most profitable franchises in adapting Patton Oswalt‘s epic filibuster from an April 2013 episode of the NBC sitcom Parks & Recreation. In the full nearly 9-minute video (which you can watch here below), Oswalt wove an amazing tale that combined the Star Wars and Marvel universes in one awe-inspiring adventure that would shatter the minds of geeks the world over. According to an unnamed spokesperson at the studio, Disney feels that this story could work, without undermining Star Wars: Episode VII and the various Marvel Studios projects in various stages of development.
Muppets Most Wanted Directed by James Bobin
Starring Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell, Tina Fey, Steve Whitmire, and Eric Jacobson
Walt Disney Pictures
Released March 21, 2014
The Muppets are back on the big screen, but does this “sequel” live up to the 2011 film that essentially ignited interest once again in the brand? While Muppets Most Wanted lacks the drama and overwhelming nostalgia of its predecessor, it more than makes up for that in laughs and smiles a plenty. The movie is insanely funny and astute, far from a film that you would want to imprison audiences from seeing.
While initial box office results are more disappointing and middling than encouraging – its opening weekend here in the United States totaled to a mere $17 million – I cannot think of any reason why moviegoers should avoid this genius blend of satire and parody in great Muppet form. It was evident in its marketing, and it translates to the actual film.
Muppets Most Wanted leaps into theaters some 28 months after the “revival” of the Muppets entity through the Jason Segel and Amy Adams film that sparked new interest in Kermit, our favorite felt friend. The March 21 release benefits from a keen and laugh-out-loud marketing campaign that integrates one of the brand’s best assets: smart humor.
This week’s Disney In Depth takes you behind the scenes as we explore how Disney’s first family film of 2014 may also be the best-promoted movie of the year – no matter the studio.