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The Muppets Studio, LLC (formerly known as The Muppets Holding Company) is a wholly owned subsidiary of media conglomerate The Walt Disney Company, formed in 2004 through the acquisition of The Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House characters from The Jim Henson Company.

Since the mid-1980s, Jim Henson had been in talks with Disney CEO Michael Eisner to sell Disney the Muppets. He and other Muppet performers had secretly filmed tutorials for Disney animators, entertainers and Imagineers on the matter of how to properly operate a Muppet, and many Muppet producers were already preparing for the transfer.

On August 28, 1989, the two announced a deal for Disney to buy Henson Associates and all of its characters, and the characters from Sesame Street were not on board (though Eisner still wanted the Muppets from Sesame Street). The deal fell through several months after Jim Henson's death in 1990, largely due to clashes between the Henson family and Disney attorneys.

Following several legal battles, the theme park attraction, Jim Henson's MuppetVision 3D, opened at the Disney-MGM Studios in May, 1991.

The Henson family subsequently sold the entirety of the Jim Henson Company to German conglomerate EM.TV in 2000. In 2003, the Henson family repurchased The Jim Henson Company from EM.TV.

Eisner, still interested in the Muppet properties, re-opened negotiations with the Hensons and announced the purchase of the Muppets characters from The Jim Henson Company in February 2004. The first Muppets movie under complete Disney control, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, went into production immediately and aired on ABC in May 2005.

Following Eisner's exit from the Disney company, new CEO Robert Iger removed the head of the Muppets Holding Company and several senior staff members hand-picked by Eisner. Since that time, the Company has been attempting to define the role of The Muppets within the Disney corporate structure.

They have also been holding open auditions across North America for Muppet performers to work in Disney theme parks, the Disney Cruise Line, and television and motion picture projects.

During the summer of 2009, several new Muppet videos were created by The Muppets Holding Company and released directly to YouTube. They were done in a similar style to the old Muppet Show segments, but updated with modern elements (Statler & Waldorf are featured at the end of each video, but instead of mocking from the balacony, they're peering into a computer screen). They were well received by fans, but only a small number were made. On November 24, 2009, The newly renamed Muppets Studio re-released these videos, this time in the new YouTube HD format. Along with these were several newly produced videos, including one starring Bunson & Beaker hunting ghosts in a reference to the film Paranormal Activity.

Leadership

  • Chris Curtin, 2004-2005
  • Russell Hampton, 2005-2006
  • Lylle Breier, 2006-present
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