The Muppet Movie Minute 1: We See Our First Muppet

We begin our journey with an examination of the development and release of The Muppet Movie and the opening shot of the studio backlot. We are also introduced to our first Muppet to appear on the big screen.

NOTES AND RESEARCH

Production, Release and Distribution

The Muppet Movie was the first film from ITC Entertainment to be released on home video when Magnetic Video issued it in January 1980, having acquired the video rights to ITC’s films. It was reissued a few times more by CBS/Fox Video before it was released by Jim Henson Video in 1993. The movie was reissued on VHS by Columbia Tristar Home Video in June, 1999. The film’s first DVD release was from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on June 5, 2001. It was re-released by Walt Disney Home Entertainment on DVD and reissued as a Walt Disney Pictures release on November 29, 2005 as Kermit’s 50th Anniversary Edition.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released The Muppet Movie as the Nearly 35th Anniversary Edition on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on August 13, 2013.

The Muppet Movie was released in the United Kingdom on May 31, 1979 and in the United States on June 22, 1979.

Directed by James Frawley

Produced by Henson Associates and ITC Entertainment (a British television company involved in production and distribution.) between the first half and the second half of The Muppet Show’s third season it was filmed in the summer of 1978.

95 minutes long (US version)

97 minutes long (UK version)

  • UK version has a few extended conversations
  • The Muppet Show was recorded at ATV’s Elstree Studios in England

Theatrical Posters

Muppet Movie Theatrical Poster
Muppet Movie Theatrical Poster (US)
Muppet Movie Theatrical Poster (Europe)

DVD and VHS

(many images used from VHSCollector.com)

This is the cover of the DVD of the version we are watching for Muppets Minute
DVD Cover – Kermit 50th Anniversary
Muppet Movie VHS Cover
Muppet Movie VHS Front
Muppet Movie VHS Back
Muppet Movie VHS Plastic Case
Muppet Movie VHS
Muppet Movie VHS Australia
Muppet Movie VHS Japan

7/5/1978 – ‘Camera rolls on Muppet Movie.’

  • Script development had begun about a year before
  • the initial outline titled “The Muppet Get-Together”
Jim Henson Pictures Logo
Jim Henson Pictures Logo
  • The theatrical and early VHS releases have the Associated Film Distribution logo, but subsequent home video releases replace it with the Jim Henson Pictures logo.
  • Wonderful logo. Gets you excited for a Muppets picture
  • No other studio logos
  • Lens flare, shooting star zipping around
  • Camera reveal Kermit behind it, cranking up the lift
  • Jim Henson’s name appears
  • Iconic profile against the sky

Fun, happy music score

The globe

  • Little diamond like marker where Hollywood would be
  • Chiseled director dude holding megaphone
  • World Wide Studios
    • World Wide Studios is really what is today CBS Studio Center, a film and television studio located at 4024 Radford Avenue, Studio City, California. The World Wide Studios entrance is a fake entrance constructed between a sound stage and another building on the lot.
    • Corner of Mary Tyler Moore Ave and Gilligan Island Rd.

Background characters:

Photo from Jim Henson’s Red Book

FIRST MUPPET ON THE BIG SCREEN!

Doglion
Doglion Sketch from Jim Henson’s Red Book

Doglion is a full-bodied Muppet monster who was featured on The Muppet Show and more sporadically thereafter. Notable sketches include an interpretation of “Beauty and the Beast” with Lesley Ann Warren, singing with Sweetums and Cloris Leachman, and filling the role of destructive monster in the Happy Girl Meets a Monster sketch with Madeline Kahn.

He holds the distinction of being the first Muppet to ever grace the silver screen as evidenced in the opening shot of The Muppet Movie, walking through the backlot as the camera pans down from the World Wide Studios statue.

He also appeared in the 1990 The Cosby Show episode “Cliff’s Nightmare,” alongside a number of other Muppets (mostly from The Jim Henson Hour).

He appeared in three episodes of Muppets Tonight. The most notable was in episode 107. As the punchline to a riff on the famous Mahna Mahna sketch, with Kermit and Sandra Bullock, Doglion manifests when Sandra says “Shave and a haircut” (to add “Two bits”).

Doglion has never had a consistent performer. Known puppeteers have included Jerry Nelson (episode 209), Frank Oz (episode 211), Jim Henson (episode 224), Dave Goelz (The Muppet Movie), Kevin Clash (episode 112 of The Jim Henson Hour), Jim Martin (The Cosby Show), and Bill Barretta (Muppets Tonight).

The name “Dog-lion” was previously used in a storyboard for a Wilkins Coffee commercial, drawn by Jim Henson in the late 1950’s. This storyboard features Wontkins being eaten by a Wilkins-drinking creature, who is described in Henson’s notes as a “monstrous dog-lion-beast.”

Waldorf (Jim Henson) and Statler (Richard Hunt)

Richard Hunt

  • Henson puppeteer from 1969-92
  • Hunt died of AIDS related complications at the age of 40. Episode 3136 of Sesame Street, as well as The Muppet Christmas Carol were dedicated to his memory.

(These are mostly my thoughts and observations. I have occasionally added some of Annie’s thoughts after the recording. I have done my best to attribute info where needed. Many of the more common facts about the film and The Muppets are not directly attributed to any one source. It is not my intention to claim all of the above information as my own. If you find a place that needs attribution, please contact me with the source and I will be happy to add it.)