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The Dark Crystal: Why Jim Henson Had To Buy His Own Movie Back

The late, great Jim Henson attached his name to numerous memorable productions throughout his life, with endeavors like the "Muppets" franchise and "Sesame Street" becoming pop culture titans. Among these beloved efforts is "The Dark Crystal," a 1982 dark fantasy feature that wasn't the most widely-adored feature upon its release but cultivated a devoted fanbase over time. Now it's a celebrated piece of Henson history that, way back when, the visionary puppeteer and filmmaker actually had to go through the trouble of buying back before it even made it to theaters.

In the second volume of the novel series "Jim Henson's The Dark Crystal: Creation Myths" (via Gizmodo) screenwriter David Odell recalled that as Henson was putting the finishing touches on the film, disaster struck. Lew Grade had sold ITC Entertainment to Robert Holmes à Court, thus passing the film to a new owner. Holmes à Court didn't care much for the feature, though the newest cut worked for general audiences. Fully confident in "The Dark Crystal" and skeptical of its proposed Christmas season opening, Henson offered to buy the film back from Holmes à Court, a deal was struck, and the rest is history.

Not only did Henson want to see the story of "The Dark Crystal" told at the cinema, but he wanted the hard work of all involved to get proper recognition.

Henson wanted to audiences to see the meticulously-crafted world of The Dark Crystal

To put it lightly, "The Dark Crystal" is an ambitious film. The lore is somewhat complicated, the characters and creatures are fascinating and the world itself is truly breathtaking. Thus, for as hard as Jim Henson and his team worked when it came time to write, shoot, and edit the film, the team responsible for making the fantastical characters and sets worked just as hard — if not harder. Had the film not been given a fair shot, all of that commitment could've gone to waste, which Henson didn't want to happen. He wanted moviegoers to see the results of their hard work in full effect.

"When you look at them up close, they are wonderful artistic creations. We had this marvelous group of craftsmen, sculptors, jewelers, all kinds of leatherworkers, and they had done such wonderful work on this film, and we wanted to put it out where people could see it," Henson said during a chat with Entertainment Tonight back in 1982. He went on to explain that prior to the film's release, they made it a point to share what the inhabitants of the world of "The Dark Crystal" would look like to the public, referring to them as "the value of the film."

It goes without saying that "The Dark Crystal" is among the most incredible films to release in the 1980s, from its visuals to its narrative. It's a good thing Jim Henson went above and beyond to make it a viewable reality.