Did you know the Walt Disney Company was planning a revival for one of its namesake’s earliest creations, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit? Most people outside the company’s inner circle didn’t. The project was never officially announced, but it existed for one brief moment.
Oswald, as a refresher, was created in 1927 by Walt Disney back when he was first getting into the animation business. He and his team finished about two dozen silent shorts and the rabbit picked up a following — and then Universal, who owned the character, decided to fire Walt. Crushed, Diz vowed to come back stronger than ever with a new character, maybe some kind of rodent.
Universal retained ownership of Oswald for decades until the Wii video game Epic Mickey went into production and the crew wanted to use Oswald in it. CEO Bob Iger initially though it’d be impossible, but then he was contacted by reps from NBC who were interested in poaching ABC Sports anchor Al Michaels for their own network. “How would you feel about…a trade?” Iger asked them, and Michaels was swapped for Oswald. He was able to appear in the video game, and in its sequel, but afterward….
Oswald hadn’t seen much action at Universal, but he wasn’t supposed to remain dormant at Disney. Iger was looking into making a new Oswald TV series, and enlisted the staff behind The Legend of the Three Caballeros to come up with it. Matt Danner, a seasoned animator who’d been assigned to the project, revealed this on his Twitter very recently.
“The Legend of the Three Caballeros team was going to follow up with an Oswald show for streaming,” Danner said. “Scripts written, designs done, animation test in hand, and a pilot in production. It was beautiful. Then we got broken up and scattered to the wind.” He did not explain why.
The intent was to launch Oswald’s comeback show on Disney+ eventually. Though that won’t happen this time, it doesn’t mean the hare is cooked for good. “Don’t be sad about this,” said Danner. “Oswald has A LOT of love within Disney. I just wanted to share how serious that love is. I’m sure there will be an Oswald project coming your way in the near future.”