The movie Steamboat Willie Rob Zombie is disproved: A fake film is explained

There was a lot of enthusiasm about a report that Rob Zombie would be developing a Steamboat Willie horror film because of his gritty, twisted horror aesthetic. But is this story true?

Every year on Public Domain Day, hundreds of artistic creations—movies, television series, and books—are released from the copyright constraints that have held them back for a century. The most famous instance in 2022 was the original Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne, which gave rise to its graphic adaptation in Blood and Honey.

The most notable of 2024’s products is unquestionably Mickey Mouse—that is, the Steamboat Willie adaptation of Disney’s mascot from the 1928 short film.

A plethora of odd ventures, including two slasher films and a horror video game, centered around a perverted version of the rodent were revealed and proclaimed as soon as the clock struck midnight on New Year’s Day. But is Rob Zombie’s movie one of them?

Is the Rob Zombie’s “Steam Boat” Mickey Mouse horror movie real?

No, Rob Zombie isn’t directing a Steamboat Willie horror movie.

While it’s inevitable we’ll see other whacky interpretations of Mickey in the coming months, The Devil’s Rejects filmmaker isn’t working on anything to do with Disney’s whistling mouse.

So, where has all this come from? YODA BBY ABY, a Facebook page with a reputation for spreading fake movie news and posters, like John Krasinski’s Die Hard remake and the NeverEnding Story sequel that isn’t happening.

The description for the “Steam Boat” poster says, “Get ready for a terrifying journey into the depths of horror with Rob Zombie’s film STEAM BOAT.”

“This sinister story centers on a serial murderer named Willie, who is eerily reminiscent to the classic 1928 animated feature Steamboat Willie. This October 2024, get ready for a nightmare come true as Willie instills fear in any body of water and fills theaters with a terrifying atmosphere.

There’s also this apparently arbitrary phrase attached to it: “Things will get plane crazy.” Those familiar with Disney’s back library, however, will be aware that the short film originally intended to be Mickey Mouse’s debut appearance was called Plane Crazy. However, it was released after Steamboat Willie due to lack of distribution.

Its synopsis reads “While piloting a steamboat, Mickey Mouse runs into Pete, the captain, and chaos ensues. Soon, he meets Minnie and starts playing music with the help of objects around him.”

While the short cartoon was a milestone in Disney’s history when it was first released, it’s recently made headlines again by re-entering the public domain.

At present, Disney separately holds a trademark on Mickey as a brand identifier and a corporate mascot in the US – meaning Mickey merch is still covered.

Though the Rob Zombie rumor isn’t true, it’s not the only riff on Steamboat Willie to have surfaced since the domain shift, with multiple horror projects being confirmed for actual release.

Find even more amazing movies, TV shows, true crime documentaries, and K-dramas to stream this month.

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