Disney fans gathered at the Anaheim Convention Center this past weekend for the first ever D23 Expo. The event was full of exclusive presentations, exhibits announcements, and experiences for Disney fans and devotees. The unique gathering of all segments of the Walt Disney Company was billed as the ultimate fan experience. The Muppets were on hand to share in the festivities and share some big news from the Muppets Studios – including big news from Walt Disney Pictures that a theatrical Muppet film is indeed on the way!
The Muppets joined Walt Disney Studios Chairman Dick Cook on Friday at the D23 Expo during a presentation on the studio's forthcoming film slate. A cast of 24 Muppets performed "Rainbow Connection" aboard an old-fashioned steamboat as Cook announced that a new Muppet movie would be coming "very soon."
"It's called `The Cheapest Muppet Movie Ever Made,'" Cook shared. No further details on the film or its production/release schedule were given at the expo, but Muppet Studios had plenty of other announcements for projects planned to reach fans throughout the next year.
The Muppets Studio General Manager Lylle Breier hosted a special Muppet presentation on Sunday. The presentation gave an overview of what fan can expect from the Muppets in the coming year – as well as highlighting some of their recent exploits and successes. Here is a run down of the big announcements made by the Muppets Studio.
Cooking with Cat Cora - The Muppets will star in a brand-new original online show with television chef Cat Cora. The original Muppet webseries is planned to launch in fall 2009.
Halloween Special - The Muppets are planned to produce an original Halloween special slated for release on ABC next year. This project was originally announced for Halloween 2009, however scheduling and production delays caused it to be bumped to 2010.
More Viral Videos - The Muppets are planning to release more viral videos on YouTube. The original web videos are planned hit the web in 2010. Video titles include "Bohemian Rhapsody," "Dust in the Wind," "American Woman," "Popcorn," "Carve O'Matic," "Carol of the Bells," "Stand By Me," "Pumpkin Carving", and "Ghost Hunting".
Muppet*Vision 3D Updates - The Muppets' classic theme park attraction will be receiving an upgrade in the coming year. The film is being remastered and upgraded to Disney Digital 3D. The attraction at Orlando's Hollywood Studios and Anaheim's California Adventure will also be receiving some new pre-show and queue elements - such as new Muppet parody posters. Posters include "Pirates of the Amphibian" (parody of "Pirates of the Caribbean"), "BEAK-E" (parody of "WALL-E"), "Hammah Montana" (parody of "Hannah Montana"), and "High School Mayhem"( a parody of "High School Musical").
Mobile Muppets - Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker's Muppet Mobile Lab has become a popular attraction at Disney resorts. The interactive Muppet unit is currently at Disneyland in Hong Kong and has become so popular that the Imagineers are working on building a Muppet Mobile Lab unit for the other parks. Additionally, development has begun on a second Muppet living character attraction. The Imagineers are working on the addition of a new mobile Electric Mayhem Band for the parks as well.
Whatnot Workshop Expands - Disney is expanding their successful Whatnot Workshop. The FAO Schwarz boutique will soon be joined by branches in both Walt Disney World in Florida and Disneyland in California. Additionally, new Whatnot features and accessories will be added to the workshop - including facial hair and monster parts. Disney will also be launching "The Muppet Whatnot Experience" contest. The contest winner will receive exclusive Muppeteer training and a chance to perform with their Whatnot in a YouTube video alongside the Muppet performers.
New Album - Muppets Studio is planning to release a new album entitled "Muppets Revisited." The new album will feature collaborations with some well-known musicians reinterpreting some classic Muppet songs - artists include Weezer ("Rainbow Connection"), The Fray ("Mahna Mahna"), Ami Lee ("Halfway Down the Stairs"), My Morning Jacket ("Our World"), and Andrew Bird ("It's Not Easy Being Green"), among others.
Statler & Waldorf Book - The Muppets' infamous curmudgeons, Statler and Waldorf, are writing their own book entitled "From the Balcony." The book, which is due out next year, will follow other such Muppet books as Kermit's "Before you Leap", Pepe's "It's Hard Out Here for a Shrimp," and Miss Piggy's "The Diva Code."
New Muppet Merchandise - The Muppets will be launching several new lines of merchandise. A new line of Muppet merchandise is planned to reach Disney Store within the next year. Also Disney Consumer Products is building their "Green and Lovin' It" line of products featuring Kermit the Frog. Kermit promotes a green message on the products which use organic and recycled materials. Additionally Macy's has become a licensing partner with the Muppets; exclusive merchandise is planned to hit Macy's retail stores in 2010. Steiff plush will follow up their collectible Kermit the Frog plush with a series of Muppet plush dolls. Miss Piggy and Fozzie Bear dolls are said to be coming soon. They also showed designs for Muppet Vinylmation figures, Muppet Pook-a-Looz dolls, and new Halloween costumes.
Muppet iPhone Apps - The Muppets will release several iPhone applications in 2010. The unique Muppet apps include: "Animal's Drum Set" (October 2009), "Pepe's Love Meter" (February 2010), "Gonzo Grams" (Summer 2010), and "Statler & Waldorf's Theater App" (late 2010).
Muppet Mobile Comics - Building on the successfully series of BOOM! Studios comic books, the Muppets will soon star in a series of moving comics available for downloading to your phone and mobile device. The e-comics will enhance the reading experience with motion, music, sound effects and voices.
Upcoming DVDs - Disney plans to release "The Muppet Show: Season 4" on DVD in 2010. Additionally, "Studio DC: Almost Live!" - the collaboration between Muppets Studio and Disney Channel - is planned for release on DVD in 2010 as well.
More TV Appearances - The Muppets are planning more appearances for the coming next year - including appearances on upcoming episodes of "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", "America's Funniest Home Videos", "Late Night with Jimmy Fallon", and ABC's "Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade".
Kermit at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade - Kermit the Frog will appear in the 2009 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He will be performing the song "I Believe" with Disney Channel star Tiffany Thornton. Kermit sang the song solo at the parade last year.
Christmas with Andrea Bocelli - As previously announced, the Muppets will appear on Andrea Bocelli's upcoming Christmas album singing "Jingle Bells" with the famed opera singer. Additionally, Kermit will appear with Bocelli to sing "Jingle Bells" on "The David Foster Christmas Special" this Christmas on PBS.
And More! - It was also said that their any many more projects and secrets in the works that they just can't share yet - but expect even more to be revealed soon.