Todd Lieberman, who coproduced the new film, says the intention all along was to reach a general audience – "We're not making entertainment specifically for children," he says – because the characters are so rich and have the ability to work on different levels.
"The Muppets are a couple of generations old in a good way," he says. "When I was a child, I appreciated them as a child, and now that I'm significantly older, I appreciate them in a completely different way, and there are hopefully lots and lots of people like me."
The Disney 'hipster' effect
Since acquiring the Muppets, Disney tried a "Wizard of Oz" reimagining that failed because it was solely tailored for children. Momentum behind the new film, "The Muppets," in theaters Nov. 23, was stronger because of its team: writers Nick Stoller and Jason Segel, the duo behind the R-rated comedies "Forgetting Sarah Marshall" and "Get Him to the Greek," and director James Bobin, best known for his writing and directing roles in "Da Ali G Show" on HBO.
While still G-rated fare, the film's self-referential humor – designed for hipster tastes – is a direct result of its new handlers. "There was something contemporary and dare I say 'hip' about their involvement," says coproducer David Hoberman.