2022 has arrived! Just before we rang in the New Year, we sadly said goodbye to Disney Legend Betty White. At Walt Disney World Resort we are counting down the days of the remaining pieces of Disney’s Magical Express to end… and now Winnie the Pooh and friends are in trouble!
It may seem odd, but when 2022 rolled around, Disney lost select rights to Winnie the Pooh. That’s right, according to USA Today, characters that appeared in Winnie-the-Pooh books by A.A. Milne that were based on Milne’s son Christopher Robin and his stuffed animals, including Winnie the Pooh, Eeyore, Tigger, Piglet, Kanga, and Roo are now public domain.
Disney acquired the rights to the Winnie-the-Pooh books and their characters from Milne’s estate back in 1961 and Disney has turned the franchise into a multibillion-dollar industry. Now, Disney won’t be able to sue anyone that uses A.A. Milne’s original Winnie-the-Pooh stories. This means Pooh bear and his friends are open to new adaptations and projects.
If someone uses Disney’s version of Winnie the Pooh and friends, however, then yes, Disney can sue the creator of the content, as Disney’s adaptation of the characters has been trademarked.
Ryan Reynolds was very aware of the loss of rights and decided to make the most out of Disney’s loss. Reynolds is a well-known actor in films such as Deadpool, Red Notice, and Free Guy, but is also the current owner of Mint Mobile which is an American telecommunications company that sells mobile phone services.
The Mint Mobile website quotes Reynolds with, “While every other tech titan is off chasing rockets, I’ll corner the budget-friendly wireless sector. Like most people, I only use rockets 10-12 times a year but I use my mobile service every day.”
Reynolds took to YouTube to create his very own book called, “Winnie-the-Screwed” stating, “Yesterday the original book featuring Winnie-the-Pooh entered the public domain. Took some creative liberties but it sticks pretty close to the source material. Just added #MintMobile and changed ‘honey’ to ‘money’ really… https://www.mintmobile.com”. Check out the video below:
As if losing select rights to Winnie the Pooh and friends is bad enough, copyright protections are currently set to expire in two years for Steamboat Willie which is the earliest version of Mickey Mouse.
Will Disney try to buy back the Winnie the Pooh rights or can we expect to see more adaptations in the future such as this “Winnie-the-Screwed”?