Sunday, March 15, 2015

‘Cinderella’ opening shows that Disney shouldn’t fear the public domain

For years, the Walt Disney Co. has fought to extend copyright terms to prevent Mickey Mouse from falling into the public domain. But the irony is that Disney got its start thanks to cartoon adaptations of fairy tales that had long been in the public domain.
Disney’s 2015 live-action feature film “Cinderella” opened Friday to positive reviews and stellar box office receipts. While the film has impeccable talent, led by director Kenneth Branagh, what likely sold it for audiences was the Disney brand name.
So if Mickey Mouse does fall into the public domain, there will still be Disney’s Mickey Mouse and everybody else’s versions. And as long as it continues to make a superior family product, Disney has nothing to worry about from its rivals.
After all, anybody can make a Cinderella movie because that fairytale has long been in the public domain. (Check out “16 strange, fascinating, lesser-known onscreen Cinderella stories.”) But the Disney name has cachet in the category.
Last year, Disney did a live-action Sleeping Beauty movie in “Maleficent.” Up next is a live-action retelling of “Beauty and the Beast.”

Photo: Disney’s “Cinderella” (2015)

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