Spooky spins as Mickey Mouse & Co. enter public domain
Steamboat Willie, the 1928 short film which was the first to feature Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, entered the public domain on January 1 and independent filmmakers are preparing genre versions of the beloved children’s characters.
With the classic black-and-white Mickey now fair game, filmmakers are unleashing their darkest visions of the cheerful rodent.
Leading the charge is Jamie Bailey’s “Mickey’s Mouse Trap,” where a masked Mickey stalks a birthday girl in a twisted amusement park slasher. Bailey aims for pure camp, embracing the absurdist humour of a murderous Mickey. Similar chills await on Steven LaMorte’s ferry tale of horror, where an evil mouse menaces passengers.
These aren’t the only beloved characters getting dark makeovers. Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan face macabre reimaginings with “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey” and “Peter Pan’s Neverland Nightmare.” While Disney retains copyrights on later versions of these characters, their early iterations are free game, opening a Pandora’s box of creative nightmares.
This copyright freefall promises more than just ghoulish entertainment. It’s a test of fair use and creative freedom, with Disney’s legal team vigilantly guarding their post-1928 Mickey. The line between playful homage and infringing on Disney’s carefully crafted brand remains to be seen.