The copyright for Steamboat Willie, a 1928 animated short film showcasing the original versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, was held by Disney until its expiration on January 1, 2024. With the expiration of the copyright, the utilization of Steamboat Willie, featuring the early version of Mickey Mouse, is now unrestricted and can be employed without facing legal challenges from Disney.

In the upcoming untitled project, director Steven LaMorte is gearing up to commence production on his own rendition of Steamboat Willie in the spring. The film will unfold as a group of ferry passengers find themselves pursued by a menacing mouse on a murderous rampage.

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

As of Monday, Disney's copyright for "Steamboat Willie" has expired, relinquishing its rights to the original versions of Mickey and Minnie Mouse. However, it's important to note that Disney still maintains copyrights for the subsequent, more recognizable iterations of these iconic characters.

“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,” the company said in a statement last month.

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LaMorte mentioned that the producers are collaborating with a legal team to ensure strict adherence to legal regulations, avoiding any conflicts with Disney. In an effort to steer clear of potential issues, they have decided to refer to their menacing mouse as Steamboat Willie rather than Mickey Mouse.

“We are doing our due diligence to make sure there’s no question or confusion of what we’re up to,” he said. “This is our version of a public domain character. It’s a scary thrill ride with heart and humor, based on this character that everybody knows.”

Now that the copyright expired on January 1, we can expect to see more creative works. The catch? They'll need to be something different from what Disney typically does. Get ready for a wave of unique and unconventional projects!

Check out on director Jamie Bailey's exciting project! The trailer for "Mickey's Mouse Trap" has been revealed, offering a glimpse into their unique portrayal of the sinister mouse. Set for a premiere in March, this film promises to deliver suspense and thrills, making it a must-watch for all movie enthusiasts. Get ready for an unforgettable cinematic adventure!