We were fortunate enough to shoot the Muppet movie in Los Angeles with Walt Disney Studio's full support. It's such a rarity in movie making today given all the tax incentives in other states. Fortunately, our story in The Muppets has Jason Segel's character Gary, Amy Adams' character, Mary, and our new muppet named Walter, vacationing in Los Angeles. So Los Angeles was an essential backdrop for the film. It also helped that Jason Segel was shooting his TV show, How I Met Your Mother, in Los Angeles. It was great because it allowed for friends and family to visit the locations and sets. And when you're shooting a Muppet movie, you get tons of requests to visit.
Our film took us all over LA, including deep in the valley where we shot Sweetums running after the car of Muppets. James Bobin, the director, filmed that moment shot for shot from the original Muppet movie at the exact same location. We filmed in downtown LA, where we shot in a grand old theatre from the 40s for the lobby of the Muppet theatre, and Hollywood, where we shot at the Henson studios. Pretty amazing, shooting at Henson studios where Brian and Lisa Henson still have their offices and Kermit graces the outside gates. From Long Beach, where we shot the Rolls Royce coming out of the water, to the Disney lot and the Universal lot, where we completely recreated the Muppet theater. The original Phantom of the Opera filmed on that legendary stage and some of the balconies from that production were still there, we just added another level. The scenes there were particularly challenging because of the logistics of building a stage that could accommodate the puppeteers, who needed to walk beneath the stage. Watching "Rainbow Connection" be performed live on the recreated stage was a thrill.
Probably the most extraordinary and gratifying experience was closing down Hollywood Boulevard for two nights, where we shot our finale, a huge musical number involving probably a hundred dancers and several hundred extras. What a thrill to be shooting on Hollywood Boulevard in front of the historic Grauman's Chinese Theatre and the El Capitan Theater with hundreds of looky-loos observing what we were doing. And to top it off, there, by coincidence, looming above us, were banners of Jim Henson -- surreal. As a producer, to close down Hollywood Boulevard -- it doesn't get better than that.
As for shooting a Muppet movie, it was a fantastic experience for us. The puppeteers are truly artists. There's no CGI involved, except to remove rods, and they perform as any actors and are great at ad-libbing. We gained enormous respect for their art. The Muppets is an old-fashioned movie shot the old-fashioned way -- in Los Angeles.
David Hoberman and Todd Lieberman were producers for The Muppets.