There’s some good news and some bad news for fans of last year’s return of the Muppets to the big screen. Much of the thematic heft of Jason Segel and Nicholas Stoller’s The Muppets script came from the question of whether or not the Muppets were still a viable entertainment entity in today’s cynical world, whether anybody remembered them, and if they could still be stars. The answer to that question now seems to be a definitive yes, because The Muppets did so well that Disney is starting work on a sequel.
The good news is that The Muppets director James Bobin and co-writer Nicholas Stoller have both signed on to step back into their old roles and bring us whatever comes next, so there should be an element of continuity and tonal consistency between this new film and The Muppets that can often be lost when creative teams are completely shuffled around in later franchise installments.
But the bad news is that the other Muppets co-writer, and the man who was largely the impetus for getting The Muppets made, Jason Segel, won’t be coming back to pen this new Muppets adventure. With more work on the long in the tooth CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, other writing gigs he has already committed to, and promotional work for his upcoming acting efforts like The Five-Year Engagement and This is Forty looming in the future, there just doesn’t seem to be time.
Vulture’s report on this news does mention the possibility that Segel could come back to the franchise in an acting capacity once this sequel is ready to go in front of the camera, but that notion might just be a placating bit of damage control thrown in by Disney sources. New Muppets movies always tell radically different stories from the features that they’re following, so it’s hard to imagine Segel’s Gary character being needed for much more than a cameo this time around.
On a positive note, now that there’s a spot to be filled on the new Muppets set, maybe Bobin and Stoller will be able to get Frank Oz to come back and work with his old felt friends once again. That would certainly be an effective way of making sure this new movie stays in Muppets fans good graces.