I’m not sure if this is one of the greatest days in the history of the Disney studio, but it surely rates as…well, one of the most delightful. If you didn’t grin from ear to ear when you heard the news, you’re not really an animation fan. (This was a moment that wanted to be shared–I got three instant e-mails from friends about it before I was able to read the news on the Web…compared to zero e-mails about the Pixar buyout.)
In his short tenure as CEO, Bob Iger has made John Lasseter the creative head of all of Disney animation and righted the wrong that Charlie Mintz wrought almost eighty years ago; so far, the guy is 2-0 when it comes to amazing, historic moves involving Disney animation’s past, present, and future. I’m not sure what he can possibly do now to top himself.
(Well, actually, I do know: He can preside over a studio that makes a bunch of inventive, entertaining animated films. And I’m feeling hopeful that he will.)
A few pressing questions:
How did this come about? Who wanted Oswald? How did Al Michaels get involved? Has anyone at Disney been stewing for decades over this? Who do you talk to at Universal when you want to get a character back that Universal has probably forgotten it owns?
Did Disney ever try to get Oswald back before? Did the idea ever cross Walt’s mind? Did he grit his teeth whenever he saw Walt Lantz, or just not care? More recently, did Michael Eisner even know who Ozzie was?
Now that Oswald is home, what will Disney do with him? Simply continue to sell merchandise in Japan? Release DVDs? Make new films? Add a character to Disneyland? In short, is there a rational business strategy behind this wonderfully quixotic move?
Will Oswald meet Mickey? Wouldn’t that be historic?
What happens to all the Universal Oswald films? Can Disney distribute them? Can Universal? Will Disney hide the fact that Oswald became a bland white bunny and a third-tier comio-book character?
Who owns Floyd and Lloyd, Oswald’s sons? Are they now orphaned? Will Disney need to trade two more sportcasters to NBC to get them?
Will this set off an array of character-trading in Hollywood? Disney isn’t doing much with Ludwig Von Drake–maybe Cartoon Network would like to have him?
Or, better yet, a revival of interest in vintage characters in general? Maybe this will be the kick in the pants that Sony needed to give Scrappy the respect he’s due. We can only hope…