Hi-ho! Deadline reports that Academy Award winners Ron Howard and Brian Grazer are teaming up with the folks behind Disney Original Documentary to make a documentary chronicling the life and career of legendary Muppets creator Jim Henson. The film will be made with the full support of the Henson family, with full access to The Jim Henson Company’s archives, and will create a “definitive portrait” of the puppeteer.
Henson, who passed away in 1990, left behind a legacy of characters beloved by everyone from children to adults. Henson created The Muppets and voiced, among others, Kermit the Frog, Rowlf, The Swedish Chef, and Dr. Teeth. He also assisted in the creation of the classic children’s television series Sesame Street, as the mind behind characters like Cookie Monster, Bert, and Ernie, even voicing the latter. His expansive career also included shows like Fraggle Rock, dedicated segments on the first season of Saturday Night Live, and directing cult classic films like Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal.
The Academy Award-winning Howard will be directing the project, and will produce alongside Grazer through their Imagine Documentaries production banner. While the pair are typically known for their collaborations on narrative films like A Beautiful Mind, Apollo 13, and Frost/Nixon, they also have a robust documentary catalog. Howard has directed, with Grazer producing, documentaries like The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, about the iconic band’s years touring the world, and Pavarotti, a film that chronicled the life and career of opera singer Luciano Pavarotti.
In a statement released with the announcement of the film, Howard said:
“Jim Henson transcends generations through his iconic characters, and it’s one of the many reasons why I have been a lifelong fan. I can’t wait to share a side of him and his career that people have never seen before. Henson’s limitless imagination and restless creativity is like few others and has influenced so much of our world as we know it. I’m humbled to be able to share a deeper look into his life and story.”
Henson’s family also made a statement about the upcoming film, saying:
“The Jim Henson Company’s archive is a treasure reflecting our father’s work, personal life and inspirations, and has been carefully maintained for the last 30 years under the leadership of archivist Karen Falk. It will be thrilling to see the story that emerges from these materials in the hands of a truly great filmmaker like Ron Howard, who has the perfect spirit and personality to tell Jim Henson’s story.”
Marjon Javadi, VP of Disney Original Documentary, finished out the announcement by adding:
“Jim Henson has impacted our culture for generations, and his creative legacy continues to live on. As iconic storytellers in their own right, Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, Sara Bernstein and Justin Wilkes are the best auteurs to share Jim Henson’s story with the world. We’re thrilled to be partnering with the team at Imagine Documentaries and the Henson family on this undoubtedly inspirational film.”
The documentary will be produced by Howard, Grazer, Sara Bernstein, and Justin Wilkes for Imagine Documentaries alongside Margaret Bodde. Executive producers will include Imagine Entertainment’s Michael Rosenberg and Javadi for Disney Original Documentary. Mark Monroe will serve as writer-producer on the film.
Currently, there is no release date or distribution plan announced for the film.