Walt Disney Pictures is developing a follow-up to the 2011 feature film The Muppets under the title The Muppets... Again!. It was announced in March 2012 that Disney is moving forward on the project with James Bobin (director of The Muppets) and Nick Stoller (co-writer of The Muppets) writing the screenplay. Bobin will also return to direct the film.
Filming began in late January 2013 at Pinewood Studios in London. Release of the film is planned for March 21, 2014.
The idea of this film is that our gang is on this global tour, and we're selling out these grand theaters all over Europe—in Berlin, Madrid, London—but we sort of get into a little bit of trouble when we run across my doppelgänger. He's the world's number one criminal, Constantine, and he happens to look an awful lot like me. I won't tell you any more than that, but let's just say mayhem ensues.
When initially asked about the prospects of a sequel prior to the release of The Muppets in November 2011, Jason Segel said "We haven't really started thinking about a sequel yet. We're just waiting to see how this goes." When asked about making a stand alone film rather than a direct sequel, he replied "I think that's a little bit more Muppety... The Great Muppet Caper is so different from The Muppets Take Manhattan which is so different from The Muppet Movie... I think that's the better approach."
On February 13, 2012, during a British promotional appearance for The Muppets on This Morning on ITV, Kermit and Miss Piggy were asked about rumors of The Muppet Show returning to television. Kermit responded as follows: "If this movie does as well as we like and people want to see us, sure, we'll probably do more movies. And I mean it's nothing official - not official. But there's all this 'hush-hush Hollywood talk." Piggy turned to Kermit to add "Well, make it official. You can do that." Kermit: "Ok, it's official."
On March 3, 2012 it was announced in Variety that James Bobin and Nick Stoller would pen the screenplay for the sequel.
In an March 6, 2012 article from Guardian.co.uk, it was announced that Disney is planning an idea for a new prime-time television show featuring the Muppets following the upcoming success of the sequel, as well as new iPhone applications with new Muppet content.
In a March 14, 2012 appearance on The View, Kermit and Miss Piggy were asked by Elisabeth Hasselbeck if there is going to be a sequel to The Muppets. Kermit responded, "Well I think there is a very good chance of that. We are happy to say, yes. Yes, we are thrilled about that." His remark garnered a thunderous applause from the studio audience.
In a March 21, 2012 interview with MTV News, Kermit the Frog and Walter talked about Jason Segel's departure from the franchise as they prep for The Muppets 2.
In a March 2012 interview, Jason Segel (co-writer, producer, and star of The Muppets) said that he will not return for the sequel, stating: "I have handed off the Muppets to my writing partner [Nick Stoller] and to James Bobin. My goal was to bring the Muppets back and I feel like I accomplished that. I feel like they're in really good hands. But it was half a decade of my life, I just want a little breather, and I know that they're going to nail it."
In an April 13, 2012 article from Collider.com, Nick Stoller revealed that the film is planned to be a comedy caper, will introduce new Muppets characters, and that Disney is hoping for a Summer 2013 release. Stoller and James Bobin started writing the script on April 12, 2012; they wrote 13 pages after outlining the entire movie over the past weeks.
While Nick Stoller said the film could possibly have a cameo for Jason Segel, Segel later stated that he will not appear in the film.
At the premiere of his movie The Five-Year Engagement, Stoller told New York Magazine that Walter will return: "'Walter is coming back... Come on, you saw the first one, right? The arc of the story was, 'Am I a man or a Muppet?' Gary chose 'I am a man.' So if you were making something called The Mannets, Gary would be in that. Walter chose to be a Muppet. He realized he's a Muppet.' But will Walter be shuffled into the Muppets' deep bench, or will he be a plot driver in the sequel? 'He is not making a cameo,' said Stoller. 'He is heavily involved in the story.' Still, Muppet purists shouldn't fret about the focus: "It's in the early stages, so everything could change, but right now it's a Kermit-centric story, as a lot of the original movies were.'"
Kermit and Miss Piggy appeared at CinemaCon on April 24, 2012 to officially announce that a new movie is in development. The official Muppets Facebook page reported the news with a teaser image. (YouTube)
On October 31, it was announced that Christoph Waltz was in negotiations to star as an Interpol inspector in a cast that also includes a "Russian femme fatale and a male lead whose intentions are always in question", along with a "slew of cameos". The movie is to be set in Europe.
It was reported on November 4 that producer Todd Lieberman and composer Bret McKenzie will return for the sequel, which begins filming in late January 2013 at Pinewood Studio in London.
On December 8, it was announced that Ty Burrell would star in the film as the Interpol inspector (the role Christoph Waltz was previously in negotiations for, but declined due to schedule conflicts). In a video interview posted later that month, Waltz said he'd been talking about the movie again and may still appear, but "it might not be a proper part, it might just be one of these little what-they-call cameos."
On December 16, Ricky Gervais confirmed that he would star in the film. Gervais tweeted about it: "I have just signed up to play the lead in the next Muppet movie. I have the biggest trailer but Kermit will spend some time in my sink." Gervais commented on his role in the film on his website: "You may have read that I have accepted the lead role in the next Muppet movie. I didn't so much accept it as jump at the chance. I fucking love The Muppets. (I'll probably have to tone down my language for Disney.) We start filming in January. I can't wait. I'll be hangin' with those cuddly little critters all day."
In a December 20th radio interview with WMMR's Preston and Steve, Bill Barretta (via phone from the film's pre-production in London) stated that Tina Fey is in negotiations to work on the project. He also mentioned that the producers are looking at Christmas 2013 release.
On January 9, 2013, reports surfaced that Tina Fey was in the final negotiations to play "a Russian gulag prison guard" in the film.
According to a January 2013 report from SlashFilm, the working title for the film is "The Muppets... Again."
In January 2013, Disney announced a release date of March 21, 2014 for the film.
On January 16, 2013, Ricky Gervais appeared on the British daytime television program This Morning and discussed his excitement for working with the Muppets. (YouTube)
On January 22, 2013, Variety reported that Ray Liotta has been cast in a cameo role for the film.
In a radio interview on Christian O'Connell Breakfast Show Ricky Gervais mentioned filming a scene for the new Muppet movie with Christoph Waltz, confirming speculation that Waltz would still be in the movie despite not playing the starring role.