Why Disney+ Doesn’t Stream Pre-Mickey Mouse Shorts
Disney has made the phrase “It all started with a mouse”, and Disney has marketed Disney+ as “the Disney vault unlocked”, but something I have observed is the lack of Disney’s pre-1928 shorts. There are many missing titles from Disney+, but as we approach Disney’s one hundredth anniversary, I want to discuss the missing titles made by Disney between 1923 and 1928, which were made before “Mickey Mouse” would grace the screen.
So What Did Disney Own Pre-Mickey?
Before Walt Disney came up with the idea of “Mickey Mouse”, he had two series of shorts. One was a series of live-action animated hybrid loosely based on “Alice In Wonderland” and was grouped under the name “Alice Comedies”. The other series is more well-known by Disney fans, “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit”.
So Why Are These Shorts Missing From The Disney+ Catalogue?
Let’s start with the easier of the two to explain. After a falling out with his lawyer Walt Disney lost the rights to “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit”, and Disney didn’t regain the rights to the character until 2006, forty years after Walt’s death. However, due to Universal Pictures’ terrible film preservation, roughly half of the Disney-produced Oswald shorts were lost.
The “Alice Comedies” are in a stranger position than the “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit” shorts. There were a total of fifty-seven shorts in the “Alice Comedies” series. However, sixteen have been lost to time. Unlike the “Oswald” shorts, Disney never lost the rights to any of the “Alice Comedies” and has released several of them on VHS and DVDs over the years. However, the “Alice Comedies” are all in the public domain and have been remastered and rereleased by several other companies, including the Eye Film Institute in Amsterdam.
The Cost Of Restoration:
This could be a massive factor in why Disney hasn’t added the “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit” shorts, is the cost of bringing the classic shorts up to streaming quality. Similar to the “Alice Comedies”, there are many shorts within the series that have unfortunately been lost to time, but the cost of restoring the ones left could be too much for Disney to want to remaster them for Disney+. Especially, if they don’t think enough people will watch them.
One of the biggest problems for Disney, is that all of the shorts in the “Alice Comedies” series are in the public domain. Plus all of the “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit” shorts that were made in 1927 have gone into the public domain and with the 1928 shorts, as well as the Oswald character, are expected to go into the public domain in 2023.
These films are in the public domain, which is a double-edged sword for Disney+. The positive is that they don’t have to worry about solving any rights issues since anyone can use public domain work without obtaining permission. The problem is, though, that Disney technically does not own any of these shorts anymore, so they may be less inclined to remaster and rerelease this content onto Disney+.
Lack Of Interest:
This could also be another huge factor in why Disney hasn’t added these shorts to the Disney+ catalogue, and that’s simply the lack of interest in these titles. Disney gets thousands if not millions of requests for select legacy titles, but considering how extensive the Disney catalogue is, many Disney fans may not even notice “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit” and the “Alice Comedies” are absent from their streaming service.
Disney+ has an impressive catalogue of movies, television series and short films which span almost one hundred years of film history, but the omissions of the “Alice Comedies” and “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit” is a little disappointing as they were creations of Walt Disney himself. Due to most of the shorts in the “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit” series being public domain and all of the “Alice Comedies” being public domain and being remastered in 2016, the fact these silent film era films are missing from Disney+ is understandable but a little disappointing.
With Disney’s one hundredth anniversary coming up, it would be nice if Disney found a way to drop the “Alice Comedies” and “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit” shorts, among some other films, series and shorts, to celebrate one hundred years of Disney, will it happen? We don’t know, but it would be nice if Disney could show Walt’s pre-Mickey creations to more people who may never have heard of characters like “Oswald The Lucky Rabbit”.
What Do You Think? Are You Sad Disney+ Doesn’t Stream Oswald the Lucky Rabbit or the Alice Comedies?
Very sad. I'd love for them to be included. Maybe Disney could buy the previous Alice restorations?