There was a time, decades before I was born, where if you were going out to the movies then chances were pretty good that you were going to see something with Mickey Mouse in it. That’s where Walt Disney originally made his mark, in movie theaters. Whereas we sit through advertisements before our big feature films today, back in the days of yore there would be a presentation of news reel footage and animated shorts. Through these shorts enduring icons were born: Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald. These are the franchise players of the Disney Empire. But recently, they’ve felt a bit diminished to me. Sure they still appear in books, in TV shows, on countless numbers of merchandise, but it feels like Disney has walled themselves off from the rest of culture. It used to be that you saw Disney characters everywhere. Now you see them only on the official Disney TV Channel, in the official Disney Store, at an official Disney theme park. When’s the last time you saw some foreign tourist walking around in the US with a faded out Mickey Mouse t-shirt on? It might be time that Disney looks to revitalize the core of its brand.
One man who is working to accomplish something like this is Burny Mattinson. His work with Disney goes all the way back to the Winnie the Pooh films of the 1960s, and he’s working as the supervising story artist on an updated Winnie the Pooh that’s set for this year. This new Winnie the Pooh looks different from the stuff Disney has been putting out recently. It’s hand drawn, it feels vintage, and it has an indefinable warmth that is missing from the goliath corporate image that Disney has taken on over the past few decades. It feels like something Walt would have done.
So, you can imagine that my ears perked up a little bit when Bleeding Cool asked Mattinson what he planned to work on next and he had this to say, “I am working on just an idea of my own which is basically a Mickey, Donald, Goofy feature film idea. We have to present it first to the bosses to get the green light.”
Sure, this is just word of an idea being thrown out there. But it’s a good idea, being pitched by a guy who could pull it off, to the people who can allow it to happen. It’s been a long time since Mickey Mouse was in our movie theaters. And he’s never starred in his own feature length film. With a good script and that vintage Disney feel that Mattinson and company have seemingly brought to the new Winnie the Pooh, this could be the perfect project to get Mickey Mouse out of the corporate ghetto that Disney has created for him and back out into the real world with everyone else. Put him in movie theaters where everyone will get a chance to look at him, don’t keep him locked up in Disney stores where only fanatics of the brand will feel his comforting presence. Let’s remind Yakov Smirnoff what he loves about this country: mom, apple pie, and Mickey Mouse.