Disney is Losing Their Grip!

Is Disney actually allowing an adaptation of Mickey as a killer?!

Mickey Mouse is a murderer?! Well, technically, no. Steamboat Willie is technically the culprit here. Disney no longer has a hold over the earliest version of their most famous character, Mickey Mouse. This goofy children’s character first premiered in 1928 and as of January 1st of this year is now under public domain. This holds huge implications for Disney and their desire to “preserve the innocence and magic of their characters.” 

Mickey Mouse in the 1928 musical-comedy, Steamboat Willie.

Disney has a chokehold over their characters and their portrayal. They wait around every corner, always ready to jump on anything that could be considered copyright infringement or damage to the ‘perfect’ view of their company. Examples that fall under Disney’s copyright infringement include: creating or selling fanart/merchandise; unauthorized events/themed parties/use of music, and creative works such as fan fiction, adaptations, and new stories with their characters. This means that anything that involves Disney’s characters or stories could lead to a court case depending on the severity.

If that doesn’t seem that out of line for you, let me tell you that Disney is definitely crossing lines. An example of this you might be familiar with is about a tombstone with Spiderman on it. Lloyd Jones’ son had unfortunately passed at the age of 4 due to a rare genetic disease. Due to the boy’s love for Spiderman, the father had planned to make a Spiderman themed tombstone in his honor. Disney refused to allow this father to have their character displayed on their son’s tombstone. As it wouldn’t “preserve the innocence and magic of their characters” and that they didn’t want to “associate their characters with death.” 

That wasn’t the only time that Disney brought their copyright to an extreme extent. Disney has threatened to pursue legal action against small businesses that sold personal adaptations of their characters, as well as stealing fan art to sell in their parks. Andrew Martin designed a sculpture of a Tiki drummer based on the Disney World Enchanted Tiki Room, and later found what was essentially an exact replica in Disney Stores. His plan was to design a tip bucket  that would drum and play music when money went in. He created a sculpture based on the original design, posting a 3D print for others to enjoy. Later, he found an identical design sold as a music box for $125 in Disney stores: stealing a fan’s original design to sell for their benefit with no credit to the original.

Maybe it’s a good thing that Mickey is getting horror movie and game adaptations. As soon as Steamboat Willy became public domain, Steven LaMorte was set to produce a horror movie adaptation of him. LaMorte’s plan is to distort the cheerful appearance of the character to create a truly terrifying story. When he talked about the movie he was quoted as saying, “Filmmakers — we’re all kids in the sandbox. We love taking them and playing with them in different ways. It’s not a desire to ruin these characters or make a quick buck, but to love them and honor them and show them in a new light,” explaining that his intentions for the movie were not negative but rather in honor.

Personally, I’m hoping the movie hits the top charts since it finally won’t benefit Disney. Unfortunately, the money the movie will make could never be enough to compare to Disney. A negative hit to them will never be enough to compensate for the damage they’ve done to multitudes of people. Here’s to hoping this is a big hit to their ego.

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