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Marketing the Muppets, One Joke at a Time

The Muppets movie doesn’t hit theaters until November 23, but Disney is making sure everyone is aware that The Muppets are coming. The Muppets’ official trailer even declares: “Get ready for Muppet domination.” While four months away from release, the movie’s promotion relies on spoof marketing.

Coinciding with the July 22 release of Captain America, The Muppets’ marketing team rolled out a poster of Sam the Eagle as Captain America. We’ve also seen two other promotional posters this month, showing the whole Muppets gang back together. Enjoyable as those posters may be—who doesn’t smile from seeing a Muppet? —Captain America in Muppet form and Green Lantern Kermit have greater potential for retweets.

Disney released a Muppets teaser trailer parodying the Green Lantern film the day it hit theaters in June. Even if you’re weirded out by seeing Muppet feet, you have to admit Kermit makes a captivating Green Lantern in the accompanying poster.

Aside from the spoofs, plans have begun to roll out for the merchandise program. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers will launch a new Muppets publishing program this fall in conjunction with the film. The Muppets book program will comprise seven titles in an array of formats featuring Kermit the Frog, Fozzie Bear, Miss Piggy, and other favorite characters. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers’ launch consists of a junior novel that features eight pages of full-color photos from the film, two early readers, a giant sticker book, and a punch-out-and-play Muppet theater. The line also features a hardcover joke book perfect for holiday gift giving and the first in an original illustrated middle-grade series about a boy who wakes up as a Muppet.

Beginning August 23, Starbucks will have The Muppets: The Green Album available for purchase. Described as a tribute to the music of the Muppets, the album includes “Muppet Show Theme Song” recorded by OK Go, “Mahna Mahna” by The Fray, and “Bein’ Green” by Andrew Bird, among its 12 tracks. The album cover uses the artists’ names to form an image of Kermit’s face.

For those in New York City, the Museum of the Moving Image launched an exhibition and film screenings from July 16-January 16. Muppet fans can reminisce by watching the classic Muppets films dating back to 1979 and 1980s and the concept Muppet films of the 1990s—perfect preparation for Jason Segel’s approach to creating the upcoming film.

“I’ve just grown a little disappointed with ‘Muppets in the Old West,’ ‘Muppets Under Water,’ and all these weird concept movies,” Segel told MTV. “I just want to go take it back to the early ‘80s, when it was about the Muppets trying to put on a show. That’s what I’m trying to bring back.”

The Awl’s Elizabeth Stevens looks further at the evolution of The Muppets. And see The Licensing Blog’s roundup of The Muppets trailers.

Judge Rules Marvel Owns Copyright to Comics
In other licensing news, a federal judge in New York granted a summary judgment to Marvel Entertainment and its parent company, the Walt Disney Company, regarding their dispute with the heirs to comic book artist Jack Kirby, according to Michael Cieply’s article in The New York Times. The judge denied the Kirbys’ request for judgment against the two companies.

The ruling rejects the Kirby family’s claim to comics and characters, including the Fantastic Four, the Incredible Hulk, and the X-Men, created by Jack Kirby, and instead declares them as works for hire.

Fox Partners with Santa Cruz Skateboards

Twentieth Century Fox Consumer Products signed Santa Cruz Skateboards to produce a line featuring characters and iconography from The Simpsons. Available this fall, board designs include a custom Bart Simpson skateboard with his spiky-hared skull and cross bones on the base plate, and a board shaped like a can of Duff Beer. The line is geared toward the hardcore skater or collector.

Melissa Tinklepaugh

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