Ricky Gervais/Twitter
Ricky Gervais/Twitter

The Muppets Return "Again!" to Theaters in 2014

Ricky Gervais/Twitter
Ricky Gervais/Twitter

After the smash success of the The Muppets in 2011, a new Muppets film is in the works. Having saved their dusty theater in the 2011 film, the Muppets will team up with Ricky Gervais, Tina Fey, Ray Liotta, and Ty Burrell to take their show on the road for The Muppets... Again! in 2014. And yes, Bret McKenzie is coming back to write bonza songs. The plot? Entertainment Weekly reports: "The Muppet repertory company [enjoys] a triumphant world tour, only to become tangled up with a criminal mastermind named Constantine, who is out to steal an enormous diamond—and who happens to be a dead ringer for Kermit."

Here's a roundup of the best coverage of the new movie we've seen so for.

It's a Frog Thing

The new movie entails capers across Europe. Entertainment Weekly interviewed Kermit the Frog. The best bit:

[EW:] And you’ve got some pretty great human co-stars again.

[Kermit:] Ricky Gervais is kind of like a Muppet, if you think about it. He fits right in. He’s about our size. I actually think when this film ends it’s going to be hard to get rid of him. He keeps following me back to my hotel in London, which is very strange, but we’re thrilled to have him. Then, of course, we have Tina Fey—and it’s hard to beat Tina. I know her because I was lucky enough to get asked to do a little spot on one of the last episodes of 30 Rock. She’s playing a feisty prison guard named Nadya, which should be fun. Then we have Ty Burrell, who’s playing a French Interpol agent. But personally, I’m not going to be going to France for the French scenes. It’s best if I don’t go there. It’s a frog thing.

No Jason Segel

Jason Segel co-wrote, produced, and starred in The Muppets in 2011, thus becoming the public face of the return of the Muppets to the big screen. But he's not involved in the next movie. Muppet Wiki reports:

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, 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 [ed note: March 2014 is the new plan]. 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.

But there's a bright spot here: Walter, the new Muppet (Segel's brother) from the 2011 film, will return. However, the film is focused heavily on Kermit, with Walter occupying more of an ensemble role.

Ricky Gervais Speaks

"How does it feel not being able to boss people around?" the interviewer asks. Gervais: "I still do."

Gervais also told Digital Spy (emphasis added): "Honestly, this is the first time when I've really gone 'I really can't believe my luck here'. I think people think I am blasé about doing all this stuff but this tops working with De Niro."

Never Before, Never Again

As we prepare for The Muppets...Again!, let's take a look back at this performance of "Never Before, Never Again" from The Muppet Show, featuring Christopher Reeve. Well, it was supposed to be that song until Miss Piggy changed things up at the last minute.

Warner Bros.
Pop Culture
Is the True Identity of Voldemort's Pet Snake Hidden in the New Fantastic Beasts Trailer?
Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

In the Harry Potter series, many of Voldemort's horcruxes were give rich backstories, like Tom Riddle's diary, Marvolo Gaunt's ring, and of course, Harry himself. But the most personal horcrux containing a fragment of Voldemort's soul is also the biggest mystery. Voldemort carries Nagini the snake with him wherever he goes, but we still don't know how the two met or where Nagini came from. Fans may not have to wait much longer to find out: One fan theory laid out by Vanity Fair suggests that Nagini is actually a cursed witch, and her true identity will be revealed in the next Fantastic Beasts movie.

On March 13, the trailer dropped for Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, the second installment in the Harry Potter prequel series written by J.K. Rowling. The clips include lots of goodies for fans—including a first look at Jude Law as young Dumbledore—but one potential bombshell requires closer examination.

Pay attention at the 1:07 mark in the video below and you'll see Claudia Kim, the actress playing a new, unnamed character in the film. While we don't know much about her yet, Pottermore tells us that she is a Maledictus or “someone who suffers from a ‘blood curse’ that turns them into a beast.” This revelation led some fans to suspect the beast she transforms into is Nagini, the snake destined to be Voldemort's companion.

That isn't the only clue backing up the theory. The second piece of evidence comes in the trailer at the 1:17 mark: There, you can see an advertisement for a "wizarding circus," featuring a poster of a woman resembling Kim constricted a by massive snake.

If Kim's character does turn out to be Nagini, the theory still doesn't explain how she eventually joins forces with Voldemort and becomes his horcrux. Fans will have to wait until the film's release on November 16, 2018 for answers. Fortunately, there are plenty of other Harry Potter fan theories to study up on in the meantime.

[h/t Vanity Fair]

Disney Enterprises, Inc.
9 Things You Might Not Know About National Treasure
Disney Enterprises, Inc.
Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Released in 2004 to mixed critical reviews but a positive audience response, director Jon Turteltaub’s National Treasure has grown into a perfect rainy-day film. Stumble upon it on a streaming service or a cable channel and the fable about historian-slash-codebreaker Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) excavating the truth about a reputed treasure map on the back of the Declaration of Independence will suck you in. Check out some facts about the movie’s development, its approach to historical accuracy, and why we haven't seen a third film.


Originally planned for a summer 2000 release, National Treasure—based on a concept by Disney marketing head Oren Aviv and DreamWorks television executive Charles Segars—had a Byzantine plot that kept it in a prolonged pre-production period. Nine writers were hired between 1999 and 2003 in an attempt to streamline the story, which sees code-breaker Benjamin Franklin Gates (Cage) pursuing the stash of riches squirreled away by Benjamin Franklin and his Freemason cohorts. Filming finally began in summer 2003 when Marianne and Cormac Wibberley got the script finalized. Turteltaub, who spent three years in development before finally starting production, told Variety that “getting Cage was worth [the wait].”


Nicolas Cage and Justin Bartha in 'National Treasure' (2004)
Disney Enterprises, Inc.

Fact and fiction blur considerably in National Treasure, which uses history as a jumping-off point for some major jumps in logic. While it’s not likely the Declaration of Independence has a secret treasure map written on it, Franklin and other Founding Fathers were actually Freemasons. Of the 55 men who signed the document, nine or more belonged to the society.


It can be tricky to secure permission to film on government property, which is why producers of National Treasure probably considered themselves fortunate when they discovered that Walter Knott of Knott’s Berry Farm fame had built a perfect replica of Independence Hall on his land in Buena Park, California back in the 1960s. The production used it for a scene requiring Cage to run on the Hall's roof, a stunt that was not likely to have been approved by caretakers of the real thing.


One of Cage’s cryptic clues in the film is reading a time of 2:22 on the clock depicted on the image of Independence Hall on the $100 bill. Bills in circulation at that time really did have an illustration that pointed to that exact hour and minute, although it was changed to 10:30 for the 2009 redesign. There’s no given reason for why those times were picked by the Treasury Department, leaving conspiracy theorists plenty to chew on.


Speaking with The Washington Post in 2012, guards and escorts for the National Archives reported that the National Treasure films have led visitors to ask questions that could only have been motivated by seeing the series. One common query: whether or not there really is a secret map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. “I call it ‘that’ movie,” guard Robert Pringle told the paper. “We get a lot of questions about the filming.”


Both Cage and director Jon Turteltaub attended Beverly Hills High School in the late 1970s and shared a drama class together. While promoting a later film collaboration, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Cage revealed that Turteltaub had actually beat him out for the lead in a stage production of Our Town. Cage was relegated to two lines of dialogue in a bit part.


Nicolas Cage and Diane Kruger in 'National Treasure' (2004)
Disney Enterprises, Inc.

On a press tour for the film, Cage told reporters that he and co-star Diane Kruger bonded by going out at night and singing karaoke. “We’d go and karaoke from time to time and sort of blow it out and be completely ridiculous, which helped, I think,” he said. “I think it was some Rage Against the Machine, AC/DC and some Sex Pistols.”


Popular films often have the residual effect of drawing interest to the real-life locations or subject matter incorporated into their plots. Mackinac Island, site of the 1982 romance Somewhere in Time, has become a perennial tourist spot. The same influence was true of National Treasure and its 2007 sequel, both of which apparently contributed to an uptick in attendance at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.


It’s been over a decade since National Treasure: Book of Secrets hit theaters, but Cage is still optimistic fans of the series could see another installment. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2016, the actor said a third film was in development, with the convoluted writing process slowing things down.

“I do know that those scripts are very difficult to write, because there has to be some credibility in terms of the facts and fact-checking, because it was relying on historical events,” Cage said. “And then you have to make it entertaining. I know that it’s been a challenge to get the script where it needs to be. That’s as much as I’ve heard. But they’re still working on it.”


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