Lost for 70 years, A Walt Disney Animation Studios cartoon featuring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit has reportedly been found in Japan, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
The cartoon is titled Neck ‘n’ Neck and a 16mm copy of it was found in possession of anime historian Yasushi Watanabe. Watanabe reportedly purchased the cartoon when he was in high school, nearly 70 years ago. He only recently learned the significance of the book after reading Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons by David Bossert.
The film only cost Watanabe￥500 or $4.40 at the current exchange rate.The original cartoon was five minutes long, but was cut down to two minutes for the 16mm version sold for home use. Watanabe’s copy of the film is currently being held at Kobe Planet Film Archive, one of the largest private film collections in Japan.
Another lost film from the Oswald collection, Sleigh Bells, was discovered in 2015 at the British Film Institute’s National Archives by a researcher. The film was restored and its world premiere was hosted by Walt Disney Animation Studios at BFI Southbank in December 2015. Over the years, a few other previously-lost cartoons in the series have been rediscovered.
Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks created the character of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit in 1927, with a series of cartoons distributed by Universal Studios through 1928. Due to a contract dispute with Disney’s distributor, Charles Mintz, Disney lost control of the character in 1928. The experience inspired him to create a brand-new character: Mickey Mouse. This time, Disney retained the rights to his creation.
In 2006, Disney CEO Bob Iger made a trade with NBC Universal and regained control of the Oswald character. In exchange for minor assets, including the rights to the lucky rabbit, Disney allowed sportscaster Al Michaels to move from Disney-owned ABC and ESPN to NBC Sports. Seventy-nine years after Oswald was created, The Walt Disney Company now owned the rights to the character and the original 26 short films made by Walt Disney.
Six of Disney’s original Oswald cartoons remain lost.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter