Sometime during July of 1979, a Hollywood miracle happened. After three years of world-building and hammering out a screenplay, Jim Henson was given a budget of $15 million to create a high-fantasy film compromised completely of puppets. Accounting for inflation, that would be the equivalent of $40 million to make what Henson described as a return to the scariness of the original Grimm Fairy Tales.
Another three years would pass before The Dark Crystal arrived in theaters on December 17, 1982. The trailer had promised a fantasy action-adventure from the creators of The Muppet Show. What audiences got instead was a dark and terrifying journey into a dying world. Critical reactions at the time were mixed, but the film grossed $40 million at the domestic box office ($106 million when adjusted for inflation), securing it as Henson’s second-highest-grossing film.
A technical marvel of achievement in film, The Dark Crystal merged cutting-edge puppetry and animatronics with old-fashioned special effects. Everything from animation and matte painted backgrounds, to forced perspective and miniatures were used to bring the world created by Henson, artist Brian Froud, and screenwriter David Odell to life.
To complement the film and help flesh out the world, Henson had a heavy hand in the supplemental materials. There was the novelization written by A.C.H. Smith and ‘The World of The Dark Crystal’ table book from the perspective of in-world archaeologists. But the deep lore didn’t stop there. There is also a four-book prequel novel series published from 2016-2019, and the 12-issue comic published in 2017 based on the never-produced film sequel to The Dark Crystal. Combined, these texts form the bedrock upon which the Netflix series is built.
But who has time to read all of that before The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance drops this weekend? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.