Disney has announced its first breakout animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, will return to its studio for the first time in 94 years for a new short film.
Oswald, considered to be the predecessor of Mickey Mouse, was created by Walt Disney for Universal and first debuted in 1927.
He starred in 26 short films, with the last released in 1928 – the same year Disney lost creative control over his beloved rabbit to the film company.
In 2006, Disney’s then chief executive Bob Iger made a deal with NBC/Universal that included permitting sports broadcaster Al Michaels to work with NBC in exchange for the return of Oswald to his original home.
Since then, the rabbit has appeared in video games, merchandise, an animated short and in Disney theme parks.
Oswald will now star once again in his own animated short film for the first time in more than 94 years.
Disney’s hand-drawn animation team has created the project as part of the Disney 100 Years of Wonder celebrations, which mark the centenary of the entertainment company’s formation in 1923.
Directed by animator Eric Goldberg and produced by Dorothy McKim, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit will be made available on the Walt Disney Animation Studios’ YouTube channel.
McKim said: “On the eve of Disney’s 100th anniversary, it was such a joy to create the first new Oswald short from our studio since 1928.
“Our hand-drawn animation team – including our hand-drawn legends Mark Henn, Randy Haycock and Eric Goldberg – as well our wonderful team of 2D apprentices had a ball animating in the style of Oswald’s era.”
Goldberg added: “Oswald is such a plucky scamp. We wanted to bring Oswald back, and in the short he literally returns to his original home, the movie screen.
“We wanted to have Oswald do all of the ‘squash-and-stretch’, ‘rubber hose’-animation style, celebrating that first generation of Walt Disney’s artists.”
Alongside the animated short, Disney has also launched an Oswald the Lucky Rabbit Snapchat lens that allows users to channel the cartoon using AR technology.