Disney’s Ultimate Plan: The road to Muppet Babies on DVD and Blu-ray

Muppet BabiesAbout a year ago, Disney made the ultimate purchase.  One that made my dreams of seeing more Star Wars films on the big screen possible.  They bought Lucasfilm.  It was this purchase that has actually completed a project that I am now convinced was the plan from the time they bought the Jim Henson Company back in 2004 for an undisclosed amount somewhere around $200 million.  It was actually a much longer journey as Disney had originally purchased distribution rights to all of the Jim Henson Company productions way back in 1991.  It took until September of 2008 before Disney finally rebranded the Muppets Holding Company as Muppet Studios, and placed it under new leadership.

With phase one complete, it was time to begin work on phase two: the acquisition of Marvel Entertainment.  This was a massive purchase costing $4.24 billion.  Disney needed to get control of Marvel Productions, and this was one way that they could do so.  They didn’t want to have any red-tape, even though they very likely had all of the rights they needed thanks to the acquisition of the Muppets.

Lastly, they needed the final piece of the equation.  They needed the footage that was used from both Star Wars and Indiana Jones franchises.  And the best way to do that?  Spend $4.06 billion on the purchase of Lucasfilm.  That brought in both franchises.

With the total cost being about $8.5 billion, Disney is very close to being able to achieve their ultimate goal: the release of Jim Henson’s Muppet Babies on DVD and Blu-ray. I had been thinking about the overall purchases that Disney was making, and one day it dawned on me that all of these things were connected.  And with a little bit of research, I found that I wasn’t the only one to think of this.

From what I can gather, the only thing left standing in their way is a simple licensing of some footage from Ghostbusters from Sony Pictures.  Unless they plan on purchasing the rights to the Ghostbusters franchise (which I’d have no problem with, as they seem to just do everything right with the franchises they acquire).  There are also bits from Star Trek: The Next Generation, which belong to Paramount, among a few other things.  It seems to me that we’re as close as ever, and so is Disney.

That’s a pretty large investment so far, though, and I hope that the eventual release of this classic masterpiece of animation works out for them, and they make back the billions they’ve spent in gathering the exclusive rights to the series.

Disneynature Films – What’s next? Wings of Life and Bears

Disneynature Wings of LifeDisneynature is a company that was launched in April 2008 to bring back one of the staples of Walt Disney’s career: True-Life Adventures.  I’m a pretty big fan of the company, and their work, so it was with great interest that I’ve sought out more information about their projects on a regular basis.

I’ve seen most of their films, when they’ve had topics that have interested me, and so far I’ve only skipped one.  Starting with Earth, which was kind of a summary version of the BBC’s Planet Earth, I’ve been captivated by this series of films.  Oceans was a disappointment to me, spending too much time on climate change and not enough time on the strange and wonderful creatures that inhabit the deep.  The narration was lacking as well, with too little talking when we needed some more explanation of what we were seeing.

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The New Star Wars Trilogy, Episodes VII – IX: Disney and Lucasfilm Present

Star Wars - The New Trilogy - Disney and Lucasfilm PresentSince the announcement that Disney bought Lucasfilm, there has been a wide range of reactions to it, from the very optimistic and positive, to the stunningly negative and outrageous.  There are many reasons to be optimistic though, and I feel there are no valid arguments against Disney at this point.  Within the few years, Disney has made some pretty smart moves with their acquisitions.  Let’s take a look at that to see why Star Wars is safe in the House of Mouse.

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Disney’s Prep & Landing – A New Holiday Classic, Returning with Short, Sequel

Christmas 2009 came with a new gift from Disney • Pixar: Prep & Landing.  This is a new holiday classic featuring a pair of elves that prepare each home for the arrival of Santa Claus.  They make sure that the children are asleep, and any potential problems are neutralized before he comes to deliver presents to the home.  It only took the first few minutes to make it one of my favorite Christmas specials that I have ever seen.  I must have watched it a few dozen times last year.

I learned something very exciting today.  Not only is Prep & Landing going to air again this year (hoping for a Blu-ray release some day), but they’re also working on a sequel!  Now, the sequel isn’t due until Christmas 2011, is a very long wait.

I was a bit disappointed that I would have to wait another year to have another adventure in the world that was so thoroughly established in the original, and then I saw that they are releasing a short this year as well!

I remember the first time that I watched Prep & Landing.  I was blown away.  Not only was it a very short special, but it had a lot of heart and when it ended, I wanted more.  I didn’t expect it to happen, and not this quickly.  Here’s what I know about each new adventure.  The short – Operation: Secret Santa, and the sequel – Prep & Landing: Naughty vs. Nice.

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Disney Remaking Flight of the Navigator!

Flight of the NavigatorWow… this is something that I actually saw coming at some point in the near future, and it’s one that I’m actually happy about. I was a pretty big fan of the original version of the film, but I always thought it was too short, and they didn’t really get into the story as much as I would have liked. I wanted to see more than they offered, which is probably part of why I watched it more than a few times.

Now, Disney is planning a remake of the film:

Brad Copeland is writing the remake, which is being produced by Mandeville partners David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman.

The 1986 original told the story of a 12-year-old boy who is abducted by an alien spacecraft in 1978 and reappears eight years later, still the same age and with no memory of what happened. NASA scientists discover a connection between the boy and a downed spacecraft and try to exploit the boy, who ultimately escapes with the ship and attempts to reunite with his family.

The movie grossed only $17 million when it was released but was later rediscovered on VHS, becoming a cult hit.

John Hyde, who executive produced the first one, steps into the same role for the new version.

Mandeville’s senior vp Albert Page will help oversee development and exec produce. Kristin Burr is overseeing for Disney.

Copeland, repped by UTA, wrote “Wild Hogs” for Disney and is writing “Nightcrawlers” at Warners. He cut his teeth in the TV world, where he acted as writer-producer on “Arrested Development” and recently as writer and consulting producer on “My Name is Earl.”