Who is the newest horror star to hit the screen?
At least two Mickey Mouse-inspired horror films have been announced since 1928’s “Steamboat Willie,” featuring the first version of the iconic character, entered the public domain.
Disney’s copyright ownership of the seminal short film, which marked the on-screen debut of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, officially expired on Monday. The classic cartoon stars the beloved mascot as the whistle-blowing, scoundrel pilot of a steamboat floating down the river.
Now that the prototype of perhaps the most famous animated figure of all time is up for grabs, independent filmmakers have wasted no time in seizing the opportunity.
Director and producer Steven LaMorte confirmed Tuesday in a press release that he is directing a horror-comedy adaptation of “Steamboat Willie,” about a “mischievous” and “monstrous” mouse with a “taste for tourists” who terrorizes residents. passengers and crew members. of a ship off the coast of New York City.
LaMorte previously directed and produced “The Mean One,” a 2022 horror comedy film based on Dr. Seuss’ Grinch.
“‘Steamboat Willie’ has brought joy to generations, but beneath that cheerful exterior lies a potential for pure, unhinged terror,” LaMorte said in a statement. “It’s a project I’ve been dreaming about and I can’t wait to unleash our twisted version of this beloved character on the world.”
Earlier this week, a trailer for “Mickey’s Mouse Trap,” an independent film about a masked killer dressed as Mickey Mouse who hunts innocent visitors and employees of an amusement park, appeared on YouTube. Directed by Jamie Bailey, “Mickey’s Mouse Trap” will tentatively premiere in March.
“We just wanted to have fun with it all,” Bailey said in a statement. “I mean, it’s Steamboat Willie’s Mickey Mouse murdering people. It’s ridiculous. We follow him and have fun doing it and I think he shows.”
Disney representatives did not immediately respond Tuesday to The Times’ request for comment.
“Since Mickey Mouse’s first appearance in the 1928 short film Steamboat Willie, people have associated the character with authentic Disney stories, experiences and products,” a Disney spokesperson said in a statement to the Associated Press. “That won’t change when the Steamboat Willie movie copyright expires.”
“More modern versions of Mickey will not be affected by the expiration of Steamboat Willie’s copyright,” the statement continued, “and Mickey will continue to play a prominent role as a global ambassador for the Walt Disney Company in our storytelling, attractions of theme parks and merchandise.”
The transformation of the cute child character into a bloodthirsty horror movie villain seems to be becoming a trend in pop culture.
Shortly after AA Milne’s “Winnie-the-Pooh” entered the public domain in 2022, Altitude Film Distribution released “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,” a low-budget slasher about the silly old bear and his friends searching for violent revenge against his old friend Christopher Robin in the Hundred Acre Wood. After the film grossed $1.8 million in the United States and Canada last year, a sequel to “Blood and Honey” is scheduled for release in February, according to the Hollywood Reporter.