Multiple Mickey Mouse horror movies announced as Steamboat Willie enters public domain

Multiple Mickey Mouse horror movies announced as Steamboat Willie enters public domain
  • PublishedJanuary 3, 2024

Mickey Mouse has landed a new role: horror-movie villain.

At least two films starring an early version of the Walt Disney Company’s famous mascot were announced this week as the copyright for Disney’s 1928 animated short film, “Steamboat Willie,” entered the public domain for the first time.

A teaser trailer for “Mickey’s Mouse Trap,” a live-action film directed by Jamie Bailey and released Monday, depicts a group of friends who are terrorized by someone in a mask of the smiling rodent at a carnival. “The mouse is out,” the trailer declared.

A film like this might have been considered a copyright infringement just a few days ago; Mickey has been synonymous with the Disney brand for nearly a century. But since US law allows copyright to be held for 95 years, on January 1, 2024, Disney’s “Steamboat Willie” copyright officially expired, opening the door for more Mickey-themed content.

A second Steamboat Willie horror film, directed by Steven LaMorte, was announced Tuesday via a press release. The film will start production in the Spring of 2024.

“Steamboat Willie has brought joy to generations, but beneath that cheerful exterior lies a potential for pure, unhinged terror,” LaMorte said in the release. “I can’t wait to unleash our twisted take on this beloved character to the world.

There are some differences between Mickey in “Steamboat Willie” and Disney’s modern iconic mascot. Steamboat Willie lacks the current Mickey’s gloves and oversized shoes, and his eyes are small black ovals without pupils.

A representative for Disney did not immediately respond to CNN’s request for comment about the horror film announcements, but last week, the company said that “more modern versions of Mickey will remain unaffected by the expiration of the Steamboat Willie copyright.”

“We will, of course, continue to protect our rights in the more modern versions of Mickey Mouse and other works that remain subject to copyright, and we will work to safeguard against consumer confusion caused by unauthorized uses of Mickey and our other iconic characters,” a Disney spokesperson said.

The two films follow last year’s “Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey,” a slasher movie made possible by the 2022 copyright expiration of A.A. Milne’s original Winnie the Pooh character.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *