February 17, 2004 – Disney Signs Agreement with Jim Henson Company for the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House
“As such, the deal we announced today is the realization of my father’s dream, and ensures that the Muppet characters will live, flourish and continue to delight audiences everywhere, forever.” – Brian Henson
On February 17, 2004, the Walt Disney Company and the Jim Henson Company announced that an agreement had been reached where Disney would acquire the Muppets and Bear in the Big Blue House properties. This deal had gone back to the 1990s, when Jim Henson was working on a deal with Disney before his untimely death. The deal had gone south, and the Jim Henson Company was purchased by the German media company EM.TV in 2000. The Henson family bought the company back in 2003, and reopened negotiations with Disney soon after. The deal included all characters classified under the Muppet banner, including Kermit, Fozzie, and Miss Piggy, as well as all characters, copyrights, trademarks, and television library entities of Bear in the Big Blue House; the deal did not include Sesame Street entities, or Jim Henson’s Create Shop assets.