The Muppet Christmas Carol
Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed byBrian Henson
Screenplay byJerry Juhl
Based onA Christmas Carol
by Charles Dickens
Produced by
  • Brian Henson
  • Martin G. Baker
CinematographyJohn Fenner
Edited byMichael Jablow
Music byMiles Goodman
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures Distribution[1]
Release date
  • December 11, 1992 (1992-12-11)
Running time
86 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States[3]
Budget$12 million
Box office$27.2 million[4]

The Muppet Christmas Carol is a 1992 American Christmas musical film directed by Brian Henson (in his feature directorial debut) from a screenplay by Jerry Juhl. It is the fourth theatrical film featuring the Muppets. Adapted from the 1843 novella A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, the film stars Michael Caine as Ebenezer Scrooge, alongside Muppet performers Dave Goelz, Steve Whitmire, Jerry Nelson, and Frank Oz. Although artistic license is taken to suit the aesthetic of the Muppets, The Muppet Christmas Carol otherwise follows Dickens's original story closely.[5] It is the first Muppet film to be produced following the deaths of Muppets creator Jim Henson and performer Richard Hunt; the film is dedicated to both.

The film was released in the United States on December 11, 1992, by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution under its Walt Disney Pictures label. It was a modest box office success and received generally favorable reviews. It is the first Muppets film to be produced by Walt Disney Pictures, whose parent company would later acquire the rights to the Muppets characters and assets in 2004.


Charles Dickens and his friend Rizzo narrate the story of Ebenezer Scrooge, a greedy, penny-pinching and lonely moneylender of nineteenth century London, who in particular does not share the merriment of Christmas. On Christmas Eve he rejects his nephew Fred's invitation to Christmas dinner, dismisses two gentlemen collecting money for charity, and tosses a wreath at a carol-singing Bean Bunny. His kind, humble employee Bob Cratchit and the other bookkeepers request to take Christmas Day off, since there will be no business for Scrooge on the day, to which he reluctantly agrees.

That night Scrooge encounters the shackled ghosts of his late business partners, Jacob and Robert Marley, in his bed chambers. They warn him to repent his wicked ways or be condemned to suffer in the afterlife as they do and that three spirits will visit him during the night. At one o'clock Scrooge is visited by the childlike Ghost of Christmas Past, who shows him visions of his childhood and early adult life. Along with Dickens and Rizzo, they visit his lonely school days and then his time as an employee at Fozziwig's rubber chicken factory. There, at Fozziwig's Christmas party, Scrooge meets a young woman named Belle, with whom he falls in love but lost as he chooses money more over her. Seeing this, a tearful Scrooge tells the Ghost to leave him as he returns to his home.

Scrooge next meets the gigantic, merry Ghost of Christmas Present, who shows him the joys and wonder of Christmas Day. Scrooge and the Ghost visit Fred's house, where Scrooge is made fun of for his stinginess and general ill will toward all. Scrooge and the spirit then visit Bob Cratchit's house, learning his family is content with the little they have. Scrooge also takes pity on Bob's ill son Tiny Tim, but is informed by the Ghost that if things continue they way they are Tim will soon die. The Ghost leaves Scrooge with The Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, who takes Scrooge into the future where a recent death elicits no sympathy from the inhabitants of London and the stolen possessions of the deceased are sold to a fence named Old Joe. The Ghost also shows Scrooge the Cratchits' home, where they find Bob and his family mourning Tiny Tim.

Scrooge is led to the cemetery, where the Ghost points out the neglected grave of the unloved man; Scrooge wipes the snow away on the tombstone to see it bears his own name. Tearfully vowing to change his ways, Scrooge finds himself back in his bedroom, where he discovers it is Christmas Day. Filled with glee, he begins spreading happiness and joy around London, agreeing to give money to the gentlemen's charity and reconciling with Fred and Fezziwig. Scrooge has Bean buy the poulterer's prized Turkey and they, along with Dickens, Rizzo and the gentlemen, deliver it to Bob's famliy. Scrooge tells Bob he will raise his salary and pay off his mortgage, Dickens tells that Tiny Tim escaped death thanks to Scrooge's new generosity, and everyone celebrates Christmas together.


Muppet performers

Performer Muppet character A Christmas Carol character
Dave Goelz The Great Gonzo Charles Dickens (Narrator)
Waldorf Robert Marley
Dr. Bunsen Honeydew Charity collector
Zoot Fozziwig party entertainer
Whatnots Background characters
Original Betina Cratchit
Richmond the Horse
Steve Whitmire Rizzo the Rat Co-narrator
Kermit the Frog Bob Cratchit
Beaker Charity collector
Bean Bunny Boy
Lips Fozziwig party entertainer
Original Belinda Cratchit
Stage puppeteer
Frank Oz Miss Piggy Emily Cratchit
Fozzie Bear Fozziwig
Sam Eagle Schoolmaster
George the Janitor Himself
Animal Fozziwig party entertainer
Original Vegetable seller
Mr. Bitte
Jerry Nelson Robin the Frog Tiny Tim Cratchit
Lew Zealand Himself
Statler Jacob Marley
Ma Bear Ma Fozziwig
Floyd Pepper Fozziwig party entertainer
Pops Background characters
Original Ghost of Christmas Present (face and voice performance)
Bookkeeper rat
Mr. Applegate
David Rudman Original Peter Cratchit
Old Joe (puppeteer only)
The Swedish Chef Fozziwig party cook
Wander McMooch Fred's guest
Louise Gold Original Mrs. Dilber
Cockney Woman
Brool Fred's guest
Karen Prell Original Ghost of Christmas Past (puppeteer only)
Daughter mouse
Aretha Singer in "Scrooge" number
Rob Tygner Originals Ghost of Christmas Past (puppeteer only)
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (puppeteer only)
William Todd Jones Original Ghost of Christmas Past (puppeteer only)
Donald Austen Originals Ghost of Christmas Present (in-suit performer)
Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (in-suit performer)
Mike Quinn Original Undertaker
Jessica Fox Originals Ghost of Christmas Past (voice only)
David Shaw Parker Old Joe (voice only)


Following Jim Henson's death in May 1990, the talent agent Bill Haber approached Henson's son Brian, with the idea of filming an adaptation. Haber told Henson that "Christmas Carol is the greatest story of all time, you should do that" and later informed Henson that he had sold the idea to ABC as a television film.[6] The longtime Muppets writer Jerry Juhl was hired to write the script and decided to insert Charles Dickens as the stand-in narrator in order to remain faithful to the original prose of the written material.[7] Henson stated that Gonzo was chosen because he was the least likely choice to play Charles Dickens,[8] while Rizzo the Rat was added to inject some humor and serve as a Greek chorus.[9] Established Muppet characters were initially written to portray the ghosts, with various accounts stating Robin the Frog or Scooter was to be the Ghost of Christmas Past, Miss Piggy to be the Ghost of Christmas Present, and Gonzo (before he was written to portray Dickens) or Animal as the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come.[6][8] However, the idea was scrapped in favor of new Muppet characters that would better underline the ominous nature.[9] After the script was submitted for approval to ABC, the executives of Walt Disney Pictures offered to purchase the script for a feature film instead of a television release.[8]

The English actors David Hemmings, Ron Moody, and David Warner and the American comedian George Carlin were considered to portray Ebenezer Scrooge.[10] Henson later offered the role to Michael Caine, who replied: "I'm going to play this movie like I'm working with the Royal Shakespeare Company. I will never wink, I will never do anything Muppety. I am going to play Scrooge as if it is an utterly dramatic role and there are no puppets around me."[6] He took inspiration for the role from "Wall Street cheats and embezzlers; I thought they represented a very good picture of meanness and greed."[11]

Production took place at the Shepperton Studios, England.[12] During filming, in order to allow for the Muppets and the human actors to be in the shot, floors had to be removed and re-inserted, with Michael Caine having to walk across narrow planks between the Muppets and their performers.[13] Additionally, the buildings in the London street scenes were constructed by hand but diminished in size in order to achieve the appearance that the streets were relatively longer. When the musical sequence "It Feels Like Christmas" ends with a crane shot, the short buildings became visibly seen in the background; Brian Henson explained on the DVD audio commentary that they were aware of the problem during shooting, but eventually decided that the closing shot was worth it as they believed not many people would notice the error.[13]


Box office

Walt Disney Pictures appeared to have high expectations for the film, being their widest-released film of the holiday season and the second-widest release under the Disney banner that year.[14] However, the film opened in sixth place, initially reported to have collected $5.9 million in box office estimates,[15] which was later revised to $5 million.[16] Ultimately, The Muppet Christmas Carol grossed a total of $27.3 million in North America.[4] Despite being a modest box office success, The Muppet Christmas Carol did not have a large effect during its theatrical release, having to face competition from Home Alone 2: Lost in New York and Disney's own Aladdin.

Critical response

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 77% based on 56 reviews, with an average rating of 7/10. The site's consensus states, "It may not be the finest version of Charles Dickens' tale to grace the screen, but The Muppet Christmas Carol is funny and heartwarming, and serves as a good introduction to the story for young viewers."[17] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 64 out of 100, based on 27 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews."[18] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.[19]

Janet Maslin, reviewing for The New York Times, said that there wasn't "great show of wit or tunefulness here, and the ingenious cross-generational touches are fairly rare. But there is a lively kiddie version of the Dickens tale, one that very young viewers ought to understand."[20] Kathleen Carroll of the New York Daily News gave it three and a half stars, calling it "a delightfully imaginative musical adaptation of Charles Dickens' classic tale" and noting that "it's a measure of Michael Caine's talents as an actor that he's able to give a straight-faced, remarkably convincing performance as the notorious tightwad Ebenezer Scrooge while surrounded by pint-sized veteran scene-stealers", though she did write that "the songs by Paul Williams tend to sound exactly alike."[21]

Peter Rainer of the Los Angeles Times said that "die-hard Muppet fans may get a boost from the film but Dickens lovers will fare less well. Somewhere along the way—'round about the Ghost of Christmas Past stuff—the magic has fallen out of the story. The treacly score by Miles Goodman, with songs by Paul Williams, doesn’t help. The Muppets are at their best when they’re anarchic, without all this soggy whimsy."[22] Norman Wilner of The Toronto Star, in contrast, called the film "one of the most loyal renderings of Dickens", writing that "Caine, who has always been able to fully become the characters he plays, delivers an unexpectedly strong performance as a human being who plays every scene with hand puppets [and] makes us believe he's been relating to the little fuzzies all his life"; however, he had a mixed review of Williams' songs in the film, and was particularly critical of its closing number.[23]

The Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, who gave the film three stars out of four, praised the technical achievements, but felt it "could have done with a few more songs than it has, and the merrymaking at the end might have been carried on a little longer, just to offset the gloom of most of Scrooge's tour through his lifetime spent spreading misery."[24] On the television program Siskel & Ebert, his partner Chicago Tribune film critic Gene Siskel, who did not review the film in print, gave the film a Thumbs Down although he was favorable towards Michael Caine's performance.[25] Also from the Chicago Tribune, Dave Kehr reviewed the film as "a talky, plodding film that seems likely to bore children and adults in equal measure." Nevertheless, Kehr praised Val Strazovec's production design and John Fenner's cinematography believing its "shadowy, naturalistic lighting creates a new look for a puppet film," but derided Paul Williams's songs as unmemorable.[26]

Likewise, Variety praised the production design and criticized Williams's songs, writing Muppets Christmas Carol is "not as enchanting or amusing as the previous entries in the Muppet series. But nothing can really diminish the late Jim Henson's irresistibly appealing characters.”[27]

Giving the film three stars out of five, Almar Haflidason of the BBC wrote the film is "liberal but fun adaptation of a classic" that "turns out to be quite touching as Muppet movies go. Less pleasing are the forgettable songs that offer both clumsy word construction and dire music that eats away at the aesthetic quality of the movie. But you'll be too busy looking out for the assorted Muppets to care much."[28] Anthony McGlynn of Screen Rant called The Muppet Christmas Carol "a work of genius on every level" and "the greatest Christmas movie ever made," praising the original songs that were written for the film and Michael Caine's performance as Scrooge.[29]

In London, the Evening Standard's Alexander Walker said that "the Muppets pass their first screen test playing characters other than their felt or furry selves with great exuberance."[30] Derek Malcolm of The Guardian was less welcoming, saying that "Scrooge's nightmare is rendered silly and so his turning from swine to saint hasn't the required kick. Not only that, but the jokes are thin on the ground, as if only a certain amount of piss-taking was thought appropriate."[31]

The film has grown in critical acclaim in subsequent years, attracting a cult following, and was declared "the greatest Christmas film ever made" as well as "among the most glorious of all Dickens adaptations" by The Guardian in 2023.[32]

Home media

This is the first Muppet film co-produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures—and the rights to the Muppets featured in the film would later be purchased by the studio's parent company. In addition to theatrical releases, the film has also been made available on home video formats. It was first released on VHS in the US on November 5, 1993, in the UK on November 15, 1993, and later on DVD in both countries. The first US DVD release on October 8, 2002, was in a full-screen-only format. Walt Disney Home Entertainment released the film in the US on DVD on November 29, 2005, in conjunction with Kermit the Frog's 50th anniversary celebration; this time the DVD contained both full-screen and widescreen presentations. The UK has also had similar DVD releases.

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released a 20th anniversary collector's edition on Blu-ray, DVD, and digital copy on November 6, 2012.[33] The release does not include the film's extended cut. However, the song "When Love Is Gone" and its accompanying scene can be viewed in its entirety on the full-screen version of the anniversary edition of The Muppet Christmas Carol, though it is cut in the widescreen format.[34][35]

On December 9, 2022, Disney+ released a 30th anniversary edition via streaming media which includes the song "When Love Is Gone" as an option in its menu.[36]

A story album of the movie was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children in 1994.[37]


The film's original score was composed by Miles Goodman with songs written by Paul Williams. Williams previously worked with the Muppets on the soundtrack to The Muppet Movie (1979) in which he and Kenneth Ascher were nominated for an Academy Award for writing "Rainbow Connection." Goodman previously scored several films that were directed by Muppet performer Frank Oz.[38]


The Muppet Christmas Carol: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by
ReleasedNovember 10, 1992
LabelJim Henson
The Muppets chronology
The Muppets Take Manhattan: The Original Soundtrack
The Muppet Christmas Carol: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Muppet Treasure Island: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Professional ratings
Review scores

The Muppet Christmas Carol: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack contains all of the songs from the film, which were written by Paul Williams, as well several cues from the score by Miles Goodman. However, most of them are different arrangements than what appear in the film. The performances are by the Muppet characters as well as Caine, and the album also includes the songs "Room in Your Heart" and "Chairman of the Board" that were recorded but never filmed. As with all previous Muppet films, The Muppet Christmas Carol was shot as a musical. The soundtrack album peaked at number 189 on the Billboard 200 chart. The soundtrack was re-released on digital by Walt Disney Records on November 6, 2012.

Track listing

All tracks are written by Paul Williams (songs) and Miles Goodman (score), except where noted

1."Overture"  2:29
2."Scrooge" The Muppet Cast2:27
3."Room in Your Heart" (deleted song) Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker1:49
4."Good King Wenceslas"TraditionalThe Muppet Brass Buskers1:05
5."One More Sleep 'Til Christmas" Kermit2:50
6."Marley and Marley" Statler and Waldorf3:13
7."Christmas Past"  1:09
8."Chairman of the Board" (deleted song) Sam Eagle1:50
9."Fozziwig's Party" Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem2:22
10."When Love is Gone" Meredith Braun3:38
11."It Feels Like Christmas" Ghost of Christmas Present2:42
12."Christmas Scat" Robin and Kermit0:23
13."Bless Us All" Robin and family2:50
14."Christmas Future"  1:46
15."Christmas Morning"  0:57
16."Thankful Heart" Michael Caine and the Cast2:16
17."Finale — When Love is Found/It Feels Like Christmas" Ghost of Christmas Present, Caine, the Muppet Cast, Robin4:01
18."When Love is Gone" (Pop Version) Martina McBride3:48
Total length:41:41

"When Love Is Gone"

"When Love Is Gone" is a song sung by the character Belle (portrayed by Meredith Braun) as she laments that Scrooge's love of money has replaced his love of her. The song itself was cut from the original 1992 American theatrical edition of the film by Jeffrey Katzenberg, the then-chairman of Walt Disney Studios, who believed that the song would not appeal to young viewers. Instead, the song was played during the film's end credits scene.[40] Brian Henson objected to this decision as the concluding song, "The Love We Found", was a direct counterpoint to it.[13]

Henson commented: "'When Love Is Gone' was not in the theatrical release, and is presently missing from some copies of the movie, which is a real shame." The song titled "When Love Is Gone" is only included on some home media releases of The Muppet Christmas Carol which are now out of print. It is included as a deleted scene in the "extras" section of the film on Disney+. The section also includes an option to view the entire film with the song restored to its original place.[41]

The song is included on all of the 1993 VHS and LaserDisc releases of the film,[8] as well as at least one UK VHS release. The LaserDisc version includes the only widescreen presentation of this song ever released.[42]

The 2002 and 2005 DVD releases of the movie retain the song in the 90-minute full-screen version of the film, but not in the 86-minute widescreen version on the same disc. A 2012 standalone DVD release of the film uses the same disc from the 2005 release, so it also contains the song. However, a different DVD was used for the 2012 Blu-ray combo pack which does not contain the song. The digital download release of the film contains the entire "When Love Is Gone" as a bonus feature, in widescreen and in high definition.

In a 2018 interview with The Big Issue, Henson said he believed that the song was "unlikely" to appear in any further releases of the film, because Disney had reportedly lost the original video master and film negative.[43] However, on December 9, 2020, Henson confirmed to BBC Radio 2 that the original film negative featuring the entire footage of the song had been found by Disney archivists and would be included in all future 4K releases. Due to time constraints, Disney+ was unable to include the new full version on its Christmas 2020 streaming release of the film.[44] At the 2022 D23 Expo in September, Henson stated the version of the film with the song restored would be available on Disney+ later that year.[45] The streaming service released the full-length version as an option in the film "extras" on December 9, 2022.[46]

See also


  1. ^ a b c "The Muppet Christmas Carol". American Film Institute. Retrieved November 15, 2022.
  2. ^ "The Muppet Christmas Carol (U)". British Board of Film Classification. December 2, 1992. Archived from the original on November 2, 2015. Retrieved July 27, 2015.
  3. ^ "The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)". Archived from the original on November 7, 2017. Retrieved October 30, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "The Muppet Christmas Carol (1992)". Box Office Mojo. Archived from the original on September 25, 2020. Retrieved February 16, 2013.
  5. ^ Rainer, Peter (December 11, 1992). "The Muppets Take On Dickens' 'Carol'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on November 22, 2020. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  6. ^ a b c Brian Henson, Steve Whitmire (December 21, 2015). "How we made: The Muppet Christmas Carol". The Guardian (Interview). Interviewed by Ben Beaumont-Thomas. Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  7. ^ Brian Henson (December 18, 2015). "The 'Rainbow Connection' Connection And Other 'Muppet Christmas Carol' Facts". Uproxx (Interview). Interviewed by Alyssa Fikse. Archived from the original on December 25, 2015. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  8. ^ a b c d Brian Henson (December 23, 2015). "Brian Henson On What Makes 'A Muppet Christmas Carol' So Special And His Father's Legacy". Uproxx (Interview). Interviewed by Alyssa Fikse. Archived from the original on December 25, 2015. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  9. ^ a b Puchko, Kristy (December 1, 2015). "14 Things You Might Not Know About 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'". Mental Floss. Archived from the original on November 25, 2020. Retrieved November 17, 2020.
  10. ^ Heaney, Katie (December 12, 2013). "14 Things You Didn't Know About "The Muppet Christmas Carol"". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on December 16, 2015. Retrieved December 25, 2015.
  11. ^ Hunter, Allan (December 18, 1992). "Ebenezer's Good". The List. Archived from the original on July 2, 2019. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  12. ^ Heckman, Don (December 13, 1992). "Ghosts of Music Past: 'The Muppet Christmas Carol' songwriter Paul Williams undergoes a metamorphosis no less powerful than Scrooge's". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 8, 2020. Retrieved December 18, 2010.
  13. ^ a b c The Muppet Christmas Carol (Audio commentary). Brian Henson. Burbank, California: Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 2002. B000065V41.((cite AV media notes)): CS1 maint: others in cite AV media (notes) (link)
  14. ^ Fox, David J. (December 15, 1992). "Weekend Box Office : 'Home Alone' Passes $100 Million". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 15, 2021. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
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  21. ^ Carroll, Kathleen (December 11, 1992). "KERMIT & MISS PIGGY GET SCROOGED". Daily News. New York, New York. Retrieved December 13, 2023.
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  23. ^ Wilner, Norman (December 11, 1992). "Muppet Carol worth singing about". The Toronto Star. Retrieved December 14, 2023.
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  36. ^ "When Love is Found: 'Muppet Christmas Carol' Star Meredith Braun on Her Long-Lost Song's Triumphant Return". December 11, 2022.
  37. ^ "Hundreds Nominated For Grammys". Deseret News. Deseret News Publishing Company. January 10, 1994. p. 6. Archived from the original on October 24, 2012. Retrieved July 13, 2010.
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  41. ^ ""When Love Is Gone" (5 m)" (Digital). Disney+. Extras. Archived from the original on December 3, 2019. Retrieved December 3, 2019. Belle sings to Scrooge of the loss of love in this beautiful and moving Deleted Song long treasured by fans.
  42. ^ LaserDisc Database – Muppet Christmas Carol, The [1729 AS], archived from the original on October 27, 2020, retrieved November 17, 2020
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  46. ^ Culwell-Block, Logan (December 9, 2022). "Disney+ Restores Cut Song to Muppet Christmas Carol December 9". Retrieved December 9, 2022.