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Blood & Honey Director Warns Against Steamboat Willie Horror Movies


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Summary

  • Filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield warns against horror adaptations of Steamboat Willie and other public domain characters, predicting costly lawsuits and a lack of quality.
  • Multiple new takes on iconic childhood properties, including Winnie-the-Pooh and Peter Pan, have been twisted into horror movies.
  • The trend of Steamboat Willie adaptations raises the question of whether it will kill the horror genre trend, as Disney may try to shut down these projects and audiences may lose interest if the movies fail to deliver on their ideas.


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Though having gotten away with his own public domain-based movie, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey writer/director Rhys Frake-Waterfield is warning against Steamboat Willie horror adaptations like Mickey’s Mouse Trap. The copyright on the classic Mickey Mouse short expired at the start of 2024, and with Disney not reacquiring it, multiple new takes on the property have emerged, including the upcoming slasher movie revolving around a group of friends terrorized by a killer dressed as Mickey in an amusement arcade. The movie continues a trend of various iconic childhood properties being twisted into horror movies, with Frake-Waterfield also producing new takes on Bambi and Peter Pan.

Following the announcement of Mickey’s Mouse Trap, Frake-Waterfield spoke with IndieWire about the various Steamboat Willie adaptations currently in development. The Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey director warned against other filmmakers continuing down this path with the character and short, feeling that the near future will see a lot of lawsuits between them and Disney that will lead to their projects either being shut down or costly, and explaining his own approach to public domain adaptations. See what Frake-Waterfield explained below:

[I] noticed some stuff [on a few of the Steamboat Willie projects that] they shouldn’t have done. We didn’t want to go near that character. [Some of these new projects are] sketchy. They think just because something’s fallen in the public domain you can just make up a version of it and then put it out to market and it’s completely fine. [It’s about to get] quite scary and extremely costly. I don’t know if any of them are going to, you know, try to make them good. That getting repeated all the time, it won’t have the same kind of hit. It doesn’t have the same kind of longevity for what we’re trying to do. I personally believe the only way that this becomes sustainable for us making films is to really focus on doing a select few, the ones we think are best, and making them have a really high quality.


Will The Steamboat Willie Horror Twists Kill The Genre Trend?

Mickey’s Mouse Trap isn’t the only major project in the works based on Steamboat Willie. Three other movies are in development at the time of writing, including one from writer/director Steven LaMorte, who already has experience in the world of public domain twists with The Mean One, a slasher take on Dr. Seuss’s How The Grinch Stole Christmas. There are also multiple shooter video games revolving around Mickey, including Infestation: Origins, which finds him possessed by an unknown entity.

Though it’s become a major trend in the genre of recent, the push for adaptations of Steamboat Willie does raise the question of whether projects like Mickey’s Mouse Trap will ultimately kill this recent push in public domain-twisting titles. Should Disney indeed move forward with trying to shut down many of these projects in the hopes of retaining the family-friendly appeal of characters long associated with their brand, it could deter other creatives from trying to find unique approaches to said characters. Additionally, with Frake-Waterfield looking to develop a whole cinematic universe of these horror adaptations, he may find his plans shuttered, even with his seeming knowledge of working around potential litigation.

While some horror genre fans may appreciate the creative thinking behind the likes of Mickey’s Mouse Trap, general audiences might find the idea of shutting down this trend a good one. The reviews for The Mean One and Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey were largely negative, with even audiences giving them mixed reception and lamenting the movies for not going far enough with their ideas. Unless Frake-Waterfield can deliver on his promise for a better movie with Blood and Honey 2, interest may ultimately wane quicker than it started.

Source: IndieWire

Mickey's Mouse Trap Movie Poster Featuring a Killer Dressed in a Bloody Mickey Mouse Mask

Mickey’s Mouse Trap

Mickey’s Mouse Trap is a horror film based on the iconic animated short Steamboat Willie, which is one of the first appearances of Disney’s Mickey Mouse. Mickey’s Mouse Trap was quickly announced after the short entered the public domain, with the first trailer being released just a few days after. The film centers on a group of people trapped inside an arcade as they are hunted by a killer dressed as Mickey Mouse.

Release Date
March 1, 2024

Director
Jamie Bailey

Cast
Simon Phillips , Nick Biskupek , James Laurin , Mireille Gagné , Sophie McIntosh

Rating
R

Writers
Simon Phillips

Studio(s)
Into Frame Productions

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