Muppet Treasure Island

Muppet Treasure Island

Theatrical release poster by Drew Struzan
Directed by Brian Henson
Produced by
Screenplay by
Based on Treasure Island
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography John Fenner
Edited by Michael Jablow
Distributed by Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Release dates
  • February 16, 1996 (1996-02-16)
Running time
99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $34.3 million

Muppet Treasure Island is a 1996 American musical adventure comedy film based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. It is the fifth feature film to star The Muppets and was directed by Brian Henson.

Similarly to its predecessor The Muppet Christmas Carol, the key roles were played by live-action actors, with the Muppets in supporting roles. The live-action actors consisted of Tim Curry, Billy Connolly, Jennifer Saunders, and Kevin Bishop in his feature film debut. Kermit the Frog appeared as Captain Abraham Smollett, Fozzie Bear as Squire Trelawney, Sam Eagle as Mr. Samuel Arrow, and Miss Piggy as the castaway Benjamina Gunn. Following their success as the narrators of The Muppet Christmas Carol, The Great Gonzo and Rizzo the Rat appeared in specially created roles as Jim's best friends. The film was released on February 16, 1996, one month before Muppets Tonight premiered on ABC.


Jim Hawkins is a young orphan who lives in the Admiral Benbow in England with his friends Gonzo and Rizzo. Jim listens to the tales of Billy Bones, who tells of his former captain, Captain Flint, who buried his treasure trove on a remote island and executed his crew so only he would own the island's map. One night, one of Bones' crewmates Blind Pew arrives, giving Bones the black spot. Bones gives Jim the treasure map and reveals that he had been Flint's first mate. Just before dying of a heart attack, he begs Jim to go after the treasure and keep both it and the map safe from pirate hands. An army of pirates attack the inn, destroying it, but the boys escape with the map.

The trio take the map to the half-wit Squire Trelawney (Fozzie Bear), who arranges a voyage to find the treasure. The boys are enlisted aboard the Hispaniola as the cabin boys, accompanied by Trelawney, Dr. Livesey (Bunsen Honeydew), and his assistant Beaker. The ship is commanded by Captain Abraham Smollett (Kermit the Frog) and his overly strict first mate Mr. Arrow (Sam Eagle). The boys meet the cook Long John Silver, a one-legged man who Bones warned them of, but Jim and Silver become good friends. The ship sets sail, but Smollett is suspicious of the crew, believing them to be of shady character. After Gonzo and Rizzo are kidnapped and tortured by three of the crew who have turned out to be pirates, he has the treasure map locked up for safe keeping.

It is revealed that Silver and the secret pirates in the crew had been part of Flint's crew and want the treasure for themselves. Silver fools Mr. Arrow into leaving the ship to test out a rowboat, claims he drowned, and has his minions steal the map during Arrow's memorial service. Jim, Gonzo, and Rizzo discover Silver's treachery and inform Smollett. Arriving at Treasure Island, Smollett orders the entire crew save the officers to go ashore, planning to keep himself and non-pirate crew aboard the ship and abandon the pirates on the island. However, his plan falls through when it is discovered that Silver has kidnapped Jim to have leverage against the captain. On the island, Silver invites Jim to join them in the treasure hunt using his late father's compass. When Jim refuses, Silver forcibly takes the compass from him. Smollett, Gonzo, and Rizzo land on the island in an effort to rescue Jim. However, unbeknownst to them, Silver had hidden a squad of pirates aboard the Hispaniola before leaving, and they capture the ship in Smollett's absence. On the island, Smollett and the rest of the landing party are captured by the native tribe of pigs, where Smollett reunites with his jilted lover Benjamina Gunn (Miss Piggy), the tribe's queen.

The pirates find the cave in which Flint hid the treasure is empty, leading to a brief mutiny against Silver. Silver reveals that, even though he is a pirate, he cares for Jim and allows him to escape. Smollett and Benjamina are captured by Silver, and Smollett is hung from a cliff to fall to his death. In an effort to save Smollett, Benjamina reveals the treasure is hidden in her house, but when she spits out a kiss from Silver, he hangs her off the cliff as well. Jim rescues his friends and with Mr. Arrow (who is revealed to be alive), the group regains control of the Hispaniola, and rescue Smollett and Benjamina. The group engages the pirates in a sword fight, until only Silver is left standing, but he surrenders when he finds himself outnumbered. While the pirates are imprisoned, Silver discovers he still has Mr. Arrow's keys and tries to escape with the treasure. Jim confronts him but allows him to leave as long as they never cross paths again, much to Silver's disappointment. Silver rows away, but not before returning Jim's compass to him. However, Mr. Arrow informs Jim and Smollett that the boat Silver used was not seaworthy, and Silver is stranded on the island with no gold.

With Jim promoted as the ship's new captain, the crew of the Hispaniola sail away, while Silver is left marooned with only a wisecracking Moai head for company.


Five other unnamed human pirates with no speaking lines appear aboard the Hispaniola while the other pirates go with Long John Silver. The beginning of the film also features several unnamed human pirates who were members of Flint's crew during the credit sequence of "Shiver My Timbers". Other unnamed human pirates are members of Blind Pew's at the Admiral Benbow Inn. There were also other unnamed non-pirate human characters who appeared both at the Admiral Benbow inn and in the town of Bristol.

Muppet performers

Main article: List of Muppets

As Oz was unavailable for most of the film's shooting, fellow Muppet performer Kevin Clash puppeteered his characters for the film, while Oz dubbed the voices in post-production. Oz had already participated in a recorded read-through of the script; Clash used these recordings to help prompt his performances. According to Kevin Clash, Frank Oz gave him a brief description of each of his characters prior to shooting. Oz described Miss Piggy as "a truck driver wanting to be a woman", and Fozzie Bear as somebody similar to Jerry Lewis.


Critical reception

Muppet Treasure Island received generally positive reviews; Rotten Tomatoes reported that 70% of critics gave the film positive reviews.

Home media

This is the second Muppet film co-produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures, following The Muppet Christmas Carol. The film has been made available on home video formats. It was released on VHS on July 11, 1996 by Walt Disney Home Video and Jim Henson Video, and twice on DVD in Region 1. Before then, Jim Henson Video released a Muppet Sing Alongs VHS tape entitled Muppet Treasure Island to coincide with the film's theatrical release.

The first DVD release in the U.S. on June 4, 2002 was in a fullscreen-only format. Other releases of these were in widescreen only format. The DVD release has 3 bonus features added like "Hidden Treasure Commentary", "The Tale of the Story Behind the Tail" and "Treasure Island Sing-Along" (but the menus were in widescreen format).

Video game

A video game based on the film was released for Windows and Mac OS in 1996 by Activision.[3] PC Zone gave the game 80 out 100 in a review.[4]


The Muppet Treasure Island: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by The Muppets
Released February 6, 1996
Genre Soundtrack
Label Angel Records
The Muppets chronology
The Muppet Christmas Carol: Original Soundtrack
Muppet Treasure Island: Original Soundtrack
Muppets from Space: Original Soundtrack (1999)
Professional ratings
Review scores

The Muppet Treasure Island: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack features an instrumental score by Hans Zimmer, with additional music by Harry Gregson-Williams, as well as songs written by pop songwriters Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil. The film's ending includes the reggae number "Love Power" performed by Ziggy Marley, which was released as a single and promoted with a music video featuring Marley and some Muppets with dreadlocks.


The Hormel Foods Corporation (who are the creators of Spam) sued Jim Henson Productions for using the name "Spa'am" for one of the film's tribal pig characters.[6] Their suit failed on September 22, 1995. The judge dismissed it after a trial for failure to prove damages, noting, "one might think Hormel would welcome the association with a genuine source of pork."[7] When Spa'am later appeared as a racing boss in Muppet RaceMania, he was credited as "Pig Chief".


  1. "Treasure Island' Gets Muppetized". 1996-11-14. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
  2. Billy Connolly Live 2002, 2002
  3. "Muppet Treasure Island". MobyGames. Blue Flame Labs. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  4. "Muppet Treasure Island for PC". GameRankings. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 10, 2014.
  5. AllMusic review
  6. McKinley, James C. McKinley, Jr. (1995-07-26). "Hormel Sues Over a Boarish Film Muppet". The New York Times.
  7. Tina Kelly (2000-08-06). "Following Up – When Is a Wart Hog A Canned Pork Product?". The New York Times.

External links

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