The Walt Disney Company has acquired the rights to OSWALD THE LUCKY RABBIT. And somewhere in heaven, Walt Disney is smiling.Disney’s studio created the cartoon character in 1927. Producer Charles Mintz took over the series for Universal in 1928, forcing Walt to go independent and conceive Mickey Mouse. The rest, as they say, is history. Oswald remained in the custody of Universal Pictures for 77 years. Until today. According to the AP :

oswaldwebsite.jpgSportscaster Al Michaels is moving to NBC and will broadcast Sunday night NFL games with John Madden, his partner on ABC during the past four seasons. In exchange for letting Michaels out of his contract with ABC and ESPN, which are owned by The Walt Disney Co., NBC Universal sold ESPN cable rights to Friday coverage of the next four Ryder Cups, granted ESPN increased usage of Olympic highlights and sold to The Walt Disney Co. the rights to “Oswald the Lucky Rabbit,” a character in silent cartoons made by Walt Disney from 1927-28.

What does all this mean to us? For fans of classic animation, it means another volume of Walt Disney Treasures on DVD. For the Walt Disney Company, it returns the only missing piece of the company’s animation history. For Universal, it means that they no longer have to vault those bothersome black & white cartoons.It begs the questions: Who at Disney (ABC) or Universal (NBC) was even aware of this bargaining chip? Did Universal offer to throw Oswald in to get a much desired sportscaster? Or did Roy Disney, or maybe even John Lassester, ask to acquire this property? (Jim Hill speculates that Iger first read about Oswald on Cartoon Brew!)Will Oswald be the subject of a new Disney 2-D feature – or a new show on Toon Disney?Oh, and can Disney please buy the rest of the Walter Lantz library? Universal apparently has no plans to use it.To be continued…


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Jerry Beck

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