After returning from London, I was tipped off by /Film reader Mr Furley that the new muppet movie, The Muppets, was being filmed close to /Film HQ. Jim Henson Studios on La Brea Avenue in Hollywood has been transformed into Muppet Studios, a real life movie studio where the Muppets use to film shows and invite the public in to witness their craziness. The Henson Studios sign had been replaced with a old beaten-up rusted and falling apart Muppet Studios sign. Hit the jump to see more.
The security stand has been transformed into an abandoned admission booth, complete with an old sign which reads “Muppet Studios Tours 50 cents” with the 50 cents turned into $1.50 with a sharpie marking. A small Muppet sized chair sits inside. A sign to the right lists studio attractions, including Fozzie’s Joke Room (Closed), Gonzos Cannon (Closed For Repair), Rowlf’s Music Parlor (Under Renovation), and Dr. Honeydew’s Laboratory of Fun (Out of Order).
Looks like the studio has indeed come upon hard times. Could it be that in a world obsessed with computer animated features, our puppet friends are no longer of interest? On the right you can see the Electric Mayhem Bus which has been featured in the other Muppet productions, starting with The Muppet Movie. The psychedelic colored bus belongs to the Muppet house band Electric Mayhem, which consists of Dr. Teeth, Floyd Pepper, Zoot, Janice, Animal, Lips and others. The bus is completely run down and has definitely seen better days, relegated as a tourist attraction (complete with a red rope surrounding the vehicle).
I was pushed out of the area in front of the studio because they began shooting a sequence at the entrance which looked to involve either the film’s new Muppet star Walter (to be voiced by Paul Rudd) or another Everypuppet-looking character. The Henson puppeteers controlled the Muppet while driving a go-cart looking contraption, which allows the muppeteers to sit close to the ground and let the muppet appear to be walking.
I was unable to get close for this sequence as the production crew cleared the way of people traffic. I was able to get a couple snaps with my iPhone, but they are incredibly zoomed and low res.
I think it’s pretty awesome that they have included the La Brea Avenue-based Henson Studios as part of the film’s storyline. For those of you who might not know the history, the studio was built by Charlie Chaplin in 1917 (formerly The Charlie Chaplin Studios) to shoot some of his classic films including The Gold Rush, City Lights, Modern Times and The Great Dictator. In the early 60’s, Hanna Barbera housed their famous cartoon studio on the lot. Caplin Studios became home to The Jim Henson Company in 1999, and you will notice that a large statue of Kermit the Frog stands on the roof of the main building, featuring the frog in a costume and pose paying homage to Chaplin.
Even though we really didn’t see much, I was amazed at just how much detail was put into making the Muppets Studio location feel like it existed within the continuity of the previous films. I wish I could have gotten closer to the action and seen more — hopefully we’ll get a chance to officially visit the set sometime during the shoot.
Here is a full image gallery with more photos:
Here is what we know about the movie thus far:
- James Bobin is directing from a script by Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller.
- The film will be in the tone of the classic Muppet films like The Muppet Movie, The Great Muppet Caper, and Muppets Take Manhattan.
- Jason Segel will play the lead role, a human named Gary, whose best friend is a Walter, a new iPhone-wielding Muppet named Walter voiced by Paul Rudd. The character has been described as “a sweet, slightly naive twenty-something Everypuppet who, in the movie, is the best friend and roommate of Segel’s character, Gary. Both Gary and Walter are die-hard Muppet fans.” Walter has never met other puppets and idealizes Kermit and the Muppets because they’re the only beings he’s seen that are like him. Together they go on a journey with Gary’s girlfriend Mary to defeat the evil Tex Richman, a man who doesn’t find the Muppets funny and thinks he can smell oil beneath their studio.
- Chris Cooper is playing the villain.
- The cast also includes Amy Adams and Rashida Jones in the other key human roles.
- There are plenty of celebrity cameos written into the script (including Sean Penn) and Segel apparently got verbal commitments from most of the stars during the writing process. Other cameos rumored to include Eric Stonestreet, John Krasinski, Ed Helms, Lady Gaga, Jack Black, Donald Glover, Jane Lynch, Danny Trejo, Zach Galifianakis as Hobo Jo & Paul Rudd as Walter the Muppet.
- We know that Jane Lynch will be a prison guard and Danny Trejo will play a prisoner.
- The Muppets will hit theaters on Christmas 2011