How ‘The Dark Crystal’ and ‘Labyrinth’ Became the Crown Jewels of the Jim Henson Company

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Once critical and commercial duds, the fantasy films are now critical brand pillars after Henson sold off the Muppets to Disney in 2004

"The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth"
"The Dark Crystal" and "Labyrinth" (TheWrap/Chris Smith)

In the 1980s, Jim Henson released the fantasy epics “The Dark Crystal” and “Labyrinth” to poor reviews and anemic box office results. For the famed puppeteer, the films were a departure from the beloved Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy characters that had made “The Muppet Show” his most enduring legacy. They were brooding and wildly expansive fantasy epics, and audiences at the time largely rejected both films.

But what a difference a couple of decades makes.

Despite selling off all of the Muppets rights to Disney in 2004 for $75 million, the Jim Henson Company retained the underperforming movies — for good reason.

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