From The Nightmare Before Christmas to The Muppet Movie, Disney+'s new show Prop Culture celebrated the magic behind your favorite Disney movies.
The world of movie prop and costume collecting is typically an environment where private collectors make big money deals to grow their personal treasure trove of items from their favorite films. That's what it's always been for Dan Lanigan, who has dubbed himself, "Raider of the Lost Props." That is until the new Disney+ series Prop Culture came along.
The new series, co-created by Lanigan and Jason C. Henry, finds the collector traveling around the country to track down iconic props and costumes from a long list of Disney movies. This time, he's not in search of items for his own personal collection, though.
"It was important to me that this show showed what was important behind prop collecting and not the financial perspective, which seems to be what other shows have done," Lanigan told GameSpot. "It's a reality of the world that I'm in, but it is not by any means the reason why most collectors collect. It's because they love these experiences, and they just want to be closer to [them]."
He continued, "I'm hopefully helping other people experience the magic that's in these pieces--and the people that make these magical pieces, the artists that you don't see that, in my mind, were the stars of these films."
Among those people are crew members from 1979's The Muppet Movie. In the eighth episode of Prop Culture Season 1, Lanigan unearths some of Miss Piggy's costumes from the film and reunites them with Muppet designer Amy Van Gilder and Muppet costume designer Calista Hendrickson, who haven't laid eyes on the items since the film wrapped.
"In retrospect, they realized it was very important and helped change the direction of our lives," Lanigan said of the moment. "To reunite them with these artifacts from their past, it's pretty special."
That's just one of several memorable moments Lanigan was able to capture for the first season of the show. All told, he revealed production the for that batch of episodes took nine months and allowed him the opportunity to do everything from speaking to Honey I Shrunk the Kids star Rick Moranis about the film, to getting the opportunity to inspect the original sculpture of Jack Skellington from The Nightmare Before Christmas.
"Sitting with [visual consultant] Rick Heinrichs and seeing the Jack maquette that he originally sculpted and still has. Hearing stories from him about how he sculpted it for Tim [Burton], his friend at the Disney animation studio at the time," Lanigan remembered. "And it was only one sculpt, the original one. It stayed the same design through the non-produced TV show that was going to be Nightmare Before Christmas, then basically come back as a feature film. And now it's this iconic character. It just blew my mind."
It was also a full-circle moment for Lanigan, who first discovered the world of prop collecting during a visit to Disney-MGM Studios, now known as Disney's Hollywood Studios, at the Disney World Resort.
"We went on the behind-the-scenes backlot tour, and at the end of it, there was this prop display area. You get off the backlot tour, and you go through this prop display way and then into a store," he said. "The prop display blew me away. I think the first time I was there I saw some Nightmare Before Christmas puppets. It just blew my mind. I just was so excited to see this stuff in person. You take the information gleaned from seeing them in person, the points where they mount them down to the ground, the holes in the set pieces where the feet were walked, all of that information is right there in front of you, if you look close enough to see it. I really became obsessed with it."
Now that obsession has him tracking down rare items featured in Disney movies like the aforementioned Nightmare Before Christmas, Kids, The Muppet Movie, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids, as well as titles like Mary Poppins, Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, and the first Pirates of the Caribbean film. And if your favorite Disney movie isn't included in Season 1, don't worry. Lanigan assures GameSpot that he is ready to go hunting again as soon as Disney+ wants a second season, and he wants to expand to Fox and Lucasfilm projects, as well.
You can watch all eight episodes of Prop Culture Season 1 on Disney+ now.