In an age when studios often greenlight the screenwriting process for a sequel before a first installment has even hit theaters (see: 21 Jump Street), Walt Disney Pictures was relatively slow on the uptake to officially give the go-ahead for a followup to The Muppets - which will bring back director James Bobin and co-writer Nicholas Stoller (but not co-writer/star Jason Segel).
The ball is now rolling on Muppets 2 (or, rather, the eighth theatrically-released Muppet movie) with Stoller and Bobin collaborating on the script. Where exactly the film will go in terms of plot - which is always the major concern with a Muppet flick (kidding) - and how soon Kermit, Miss Piggy, and Co. will be returning to the big screen, that's been a bit up in the air until now.
Collider's trusty editor-in-chief Steve "Frosty" Weintraub interviewed Stoller at the junket for The Five-Year Engagement (which the latter directed and co-wrote with Segel), where he managed to gain some insight on the direction of the Muppets sequel and how soon we can expect it. Said Stoller:
"I will say, it is a caper. It is a comedy caper... They [Disney] want to do it. They want it as soon as possible, which is good. I’m not sure exactly when they want to release it. I think it was something like next summer [in 2013], but I don’t know if that’s…I don’t think that that’s realistic in terms of getting it all together in time. But to want to do it so quickly is great. It certainly makes us want to write it quickly."
In terms of how much the Muppets sequel will imitate the approach of its predecessors, starting with the Jim Henson-directed Great Muppet Caper:
"Yeah, I think it’s similar to ['The Great Muppet Caper'] in that [that film] certainly had dramatic connections to the first Muppet movie, but it was a whole new thing, hopefully. This is the same thing. We love 'The Great Muppet Caper' and we love 'Muppets Take Manhattan' and whatnot. So this has some elements of that, but it’s different because it’s in the tone of what James and I like to do."
From that quote, it sounds like this sequel will follow "The Fuzzy Pack" and new addition Walter on somewhat more of an irreverent adventure, without sacrificing the mix of classic Muppet comedy and surprising dramatic depth served up by the previous film. Those blueprints should lay the foundation for a Muppets sequel that pleases fans of its predecessor, both young and old(er).
Throw in some new toe-tapping musical numbers from newbie Oscar-winner Brett McKenzie - whose involvement (or lack thereof) is not a certainty - and this Muppet movie seems all good to go.
We will continue to keep you posted on the status of The Muppets 2 (not the official title) as more information is released.