It hasn’t taken long for fans and creatives alike to maximize the freedom of utilizing the newly available intellectual property, Steamboat Willie, better known as Mickey Mouse.
On the same day that the world’s most popular rodents became part of the public domain, weird and dark renditions of games and horror film trailers flooded the internet.
News of a new horror genre game featuring Mickey broke over the weekend, but lost in the rubble was a new horror feature, highlighting the most iconic mouse of all time.
As highlighted by The New York Post, “Mickey isn’t for kids anymore.” Although the current version of the popular character isn’t up for grabs, the familiar 1928 version, appropriately known as “Steamboat Willie,” has turned into a psychotic serial killer, much like Winnie the Pooh once he entered into the public domain.
Mickey Mouse Before 2024
Mickey Mouse is an iconic cartoon character beloved by millions around the world. From his humble beginnings in Steamboat Willie to his appearances in the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Mickey Mouse Works, Mickey has brought joy and laughter to countless fans.
He’s not only been the face of The Walt Disney Company since 1928; Mickey has also been an international figure who transcends cultural boundaries, languages, and even religions. Mickey Mouse is a cemented member of popular culture, but with his release to the public domain, new versions of the popular children’s character, dark in nature, are coming out of the woodwork.
From Steamboat Willie to Serial Killer
Beneath his cheerful exterior lies an unexpected and chilling tale, a dark twist on Mickey Mouse, envisioning him as a serial killer. Of course, this concept is purely fictional and not endorsed by the Walt Disney Company.
Instead, it’s the brainchild of director Jamie Bailey, who released a trailer for Mickey’s Mouse Trap, which features relatively unknown actors Mackenzie Mills, Sophie McIntosh, Callum Sywyk, Allegra Nocita, Damir Kovic Ben Harris, and Simon Phillips.
The story centers around the celebration of a 21-year-old’s birthday at her job in an arcade. She and her friends must survive the night from a cold-blooded killer, who you may have guessed is dressed like Steamboat Willie.
Against Disney’s Best Efforts
Disney did a lot to prevent Walt Disney and Ub Iwersk’s 1928 character, Steamboat Willie, from entering the public domain. In 1998, Disney lobbied for the Copyright Extension Act, which added 20 years to the protection of films produced between 1923 and 1978. Affectionately known as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” the copyright extension no longer applies to the usage of Steamboat Willie, although the current version of Mickey Mouse is still protected.
Disney has committed to further seeking ways to protect the brand that is Steamboat Willie, as we all heavily associate the character with the Mickey Mouse we all know and love today. The New York Post went on to explain that Disney spokespersons are dedicated to preserving the character, as made clear in earlier statements prior to Steamboat Willie entering the public domain.
“Ever since Mickey Mouse’s first appearance in the 1928 short film ‘Steamboat Willie,’ people have associated the character with Disney’s stories, experiences, and authentic products. That will not change when the copyright in the Steamboat Willie film expires. 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.”
Steamboat Willie in ‘Mickey’s Mouse Trap’
Recently, The Hollywood Reporter sat down with Mickey’s Mouse Trap director Jamie Bailey, who shared the following regarding their take on the iconic character, “We just wanted to have fun with it all. I mean it’s Steamboat Willie’s Mickey Mouse murdering people. It’s ridiculous. We ran with it and had fun doing it and I think it shows.”
With Universal coming off of a big fall release of Five Nights at Freddy’s (2023), the market is definitely there for the “Chuck E. Cheese-style” slasher film. And that’s exactly what Mickey’s Mouse Trap is.
Mickey’s Mouse Trap, featuring Steamboat Willie, follows a trend of taking available Disney intellectual properties and turning them into blood-thirsty, deranged monsters. 2023 also saw the release of a similar product named Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey, which premiered after the popular Disney character also became available in the public domain.
As for Mickey’s Mouse Trap, although a short trailer is available for viewing, there is no timeline for release dates and modes of transmitting the film.