Jim Henson's Muppets returned to the limelight last year, so Disney is wasting no time on getting another installment in theaters. Muppets co-writer and non-felt star Jason Segel isn't coming back for the sequel - because he has accomplished his goal of rejuvenating the property - but director James Bobin and co-writer Nicholas Stoller are hard at work putting together a script for a second round of irreverent Muppet antics and human celebrity cameos.
No Muppet movie is complete without actual people to play off Henson's googly-eyed creations, and the Muppets followup will be no exception. We're hearing that Christoph Waltz (pictured above in Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained) looks to be the first to come aboard, as an important player in the film's comedy caper plot previously teased by Stoller.
Waltz won an Oscar for portraying Col. Landa in Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds, and has spent the years since being type-cast as an eccentric villain (in such films as Green Hornet, Water for Elephants, and The Three Musketeers); in other words, he's a perfect fit for the madcap Muppet universe. The actor is currently working on Terry Gilliam's The Zero Theorem, but should be available once the still-untitled Muppets sequel begins production (which is expected to be early next year).
THR has it on good authority that Waltz is in talks to portray an Interpol inspector in the Europe-set film, while some of the other important human characters include "a Russian femme fatale and a male lead whose intentions are always in question." The overseas setting and plot setup do recall those in The Great Muppet Caper, but otherwise it doesn't sound as though the sequel is going to recycle that film's heist plot - though, I'd be willing to take bets that Bobin and Stoller include meta-jokes where the Muppets reference that movie.
The Muppets grossed $158 million in theaters worldwide and earned some of the best reviews in the franchise history, so demand for a sequel is very much there. Nostalgia from an older generation who grew up watching those characters played an important role in that; in fact, that same enduring adoration drove Segel and his collaborators to make the film in the first place. That's not a criticism, by the way, just an observation about why Muppets resonated emotionally with many adults, while still providing entertainment for younger moviegoers.
A Muppets sequel, in other words, might not have quite the same amount of 'heart' as its predecessor, but that leaves more room for pure blissful Muppet comedy, song & dance numbers, and other assorted shenanigans - and that's what made us all fall in love with Henson's puppets in the first place, right?
More on the Muppets sequel as the story develops.