Muppets Most Wanted is the sequel to the hit reboot that was released in 2011. Both Director James Bobin and music and songwriter Bret McKenzie return to continue to make childhood memories or make us reminisce our own memories of the Muppets. But which ever side you sit on, the Muppets are back, and are continuing to put smiles on our faces through comedy and song. MovieViral was invited to one of the press junkets for the film, where we sat down with fellow journalists to talk to director James Bobin, music supervisor Bret McKenzie, and producer Todd Lieberman.
The three talked about the process of making the film, creating the music in a hole in the hole store, filming on stage vs filming on location, and much more. Hit the jump to read the top 10 things we learned about what it was like to make the film.
10. Keeping the spirit of the Muppets alive
With both Jane and John Henson passing before the release of the film, it was important for James Bobin to keep the spirit of the Muppets alive, and be sure that the Henson family linage be happy with the final result. “Yeah, well I know that Lisa and Brian have seen the movie and love it which is always very important to me ‘cause I want to see if Jim’s, his legacy to us. And certainly in the first movie when we’re filming in Los Angeles Brian came on set twice and he and I talked about making Muppet movies and in fact he and I are now the only people who’ve ever done two Muppet movies so I share that with him,” said Bobin, “so his opinion to me is obviously very important. On this one it was harder because we were in London so I didn’t see him this time but I know he’s a fan of the movies, so I’m thrilled by that.”
9. What’s This Movie Called Again?
For those who have heard the Muppets Most Wanted opening number, the Sequel Song, you may have noticed that one of the lyrics reads “It’s the Muppets Again,” this was was actually the original title for the film. “So the first song we’re doing a sequel ends with the Muppets all singing ‘it’s the Muppets again,’ because we’d thought it be great to, you know, the song to have the title of the movie in it but then well after we’d filmed it all. Then marketing decided to change the name of the movie, and, and so, we tried going ‘it’s the Muppets Most Wanted,’ and, it really didn’t sit very well on the mouths of the Muppets, so we did okay.
8. Muppets Aren’t Easy To Travel With.
While many of us know that the Muppets are not actual living breathing thing (or are they?) the puppeters that bring them to life continues the illusion that everyone wants to believe in, especially those who are fans of the Muppets. Bobin addresses some of the concerns and logistics of filming with the Muppets and their puppeters.
Muppet films are never easy to film ‘cause the Muppets have no legs. You may not notice this but they have no legs so things get very complicated wherever you go. So it’s easier indoors. So you’ll notice that a lot of work now is on stage but what I love about Muppets in the real world is they live in the real world and you create a sense there’s a—there’s a real world out there whereby Muppets and humans happy co-exist. Which is my favorite thing. I think it’s an illusion we all want to believe in. So on location we always have to, you know, they—they—the puppeteers perform on the ground. We have to raise things like your door handles and various things like that to help us out. So it’s all quite technically complex but on stage it’s very straightforward because we then just raise the entire set five feet up, four feet up in the air and the cameras come up four feet in the air and the puppeteers themselves can then stand up. ‘Cause that means they can kind of group together as closely as possible. That means you have nice group shots rather than being all far apart,” he added. “So there’s lots of challenges when you’re filming Muppets but you know, and the days can be very long. But at the end of the day you look around and you see these incredible characters behind you as a whole, it’s just really fun.
7. Cameos, cameos, and even more cameos.
Apparently getting a cameo role in the film isn’t as easy as it sounds. There is an entire process to getting the right people to board the project. W”e have a list of people who want to be in the movie and then as we kinda go through, as these guys go through writing the movie, we gather other intel of fans and people we like and people that like us and then we kinda do this grid,” Lieberman said. “Intel meaning, just Google them,” McKenzie chimed. “There’s so many people who love the Muppets and it’s kind of, it’s an interesting matrix to put together to figure out where people go correctly and how to fit all the people that love in the movie which, you know, hopefully we’ve accomplished.” Liberman added.
6. Creating music with nothing but a piano in a dusty room.
When McKenize moved back to LA to work on the music for Muppets Most Wanted, he had to find the right space to work in. “I moved to LA to work on the songs and we hired a space in—on Hollywood Boulevard, an old—an old shop and I put a piano in there,” said McKenzie, “it was like this sorta dusty old shop to hide away and work on these songs and these guys came and visited, to listen to the demos and it was quite a funny scene because people would be walking by hearing this, me hitting on, you know, playing the piano and occasionally—occasionally they’d walk in and they’d say, ‘is there music lessons going on here?’ Or what is this? Is this some sort of art installation?”