Muppets From Space
- Directed By: Tim Hill
- Written By: Jerry Juhl, Joey Mazzarino, Ken Kaufman
- Release Date: July 14, 1999
- Domestic Distributor: Sony
- Cast: Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Bill Barretta, Frank Oz
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $24 million||Financed by: Sony|
|Domestic Gross: $16,625,807||Overseas Gross: $5,697,805|
Back in December 1995, the Jim Henson Company landed a huge development deal with Sony, where the Henson Co. would develop up to 15 movies over 5 years and the slate of pictures would cost north of $200 million — financed and distributed by Sony. Only 3 movies materialized from the deal and all were box office flops: Buddy (1997), Muppets From Space and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland (1999). This was a dark period for the Muppets brand and the Jim Henson Co., which saw Muppets Tonight (1996) get canceled by ABC when the broadcaster was bought out by Disney and then Muppets From Space derailed the franchise.
After the failure of most of their projects, the Jim Henson Co. agreed to be sold off to the German media company EM for $680 million. EM had major fiscal problems and in May 2003, the Henson family bought back their company for a fraction of what EM paid, for $89 million.
The budget for Muppets From Space was $24 million and Sony financed the picture and scheduled it for the competitive summer frame on July 14, 1999. In addition to an expensive marketing campaign, Sony also landed free exposure for Muppets From Space with a Wendy’s tie-in. Muppets From Space bowed against Eyes Wide Shut, Lake Placid and The Wood. Reviews were mixed and tracking was poor, especially with younger auds. Muppets From Space was dead on arrival with $4,826,049 — placing #10 for the weekend led by the not very kid friendly Eyes Wide Shut. The Jim Henson Co. publicly blamed the crowded summer release date for the box office failure a few days after it opened. The following weekend Inspector Gadget opened and the Muppets sank 54.2% to $2,210,971 and then it took a 59.9% plunge to $887,582 in its third session. The domestic run closed with a terrible $16,625,807.
Muppets From Space cumed a mere $5.6M from its offshore run. The worldwide total was just $22.3M and Sony would see returned about $12.2M after theaters take their percentage of the gross — which would not cover much of the global P&A expenses or any of the budget. In Sony’s quarter report the pictures division “suffered losses from the box office performances of Jakob The Liar, Dick and Muppets From Space.”
The franchise was successfully rebooted in 2011 with The Muppets and then derailed again with Muppets Most Wanted (2014). It was retooled into another TV series The Muppets. (2015), which was canceled after one season.