Beloved children’s characters from Winnie-the-Pooh and the Piglet have turned into villains in the latest horror flick, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey starring a bloodthirsty Winnie-the-Pooh. The horror flick was released in the US in February and across the UK in March.
Interestingly, even the original producers of the franchise, the Walt Disney Company, are helpless at this interpretation because Pooh entered the public domain last year. As many beloved fictional characters join the public domain — a term that refers to all creative works that are not subject to intellectual property laws — it also means such creative works can be legally used or referenced without permission. Hence, there are bound to be manipulations, criticism and exploitation of the original work. For instance, the lovable yellow bear dressed in his signature red t-shirt is now free for everybody to exploit into their own stories, films or merchandise.
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Besides Winnie the Pooh, which was originally published in 1926, the book Bambi: A Life in the Woods by Felix Salten (which inspired Disney’s 1942 animated film), is in the public domain, where one can make a Bambi adaptation based on the Felix Salten book.
The original Mickey Mouse’s copyright also expires in 2024. The mouse has for the longest time been the face of The Walt Disney since his 1928 creation.
Superman is one of the many superheroes from DC Comics. He made his first published appearance in 1938 and since then has several cartoons, series, and movies based on his character. Superman will be available in the public domain by 2033.
Today, Thor might be known as the lovable, funny Avengers hero played by Chris Hemsworth. However, unlike some of the other Marvel superheroes, Thor originates from Norse mythology and thus exists in the public domain. Getting in the public domain also does not stop Marvel from making big bucks. There have even been a couple of non-Marvel movies about Thor too.
Some of the other characters that are soon going to join the list will be Pluto in 2025, Donald Duck in 2029, the characters from JRR Tolkien’s The Hobbit in 2033, James Bond in 2034, Batman in 2034, Captain Marvel (DC’s Shazam) in 2034, Captain America in 2036, Wonder Woman in 2037.
This year the iconic detective Sherlock Holmes and the teen detective duo the Hardy Boys also entered the public domain. Holmes, a London-based detective known for his ability to crack tough cases, is one of the most famous public domain additions.
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Among many others, Jay Gatsby in F Scott Fitzgerald’s classic tale, The Great Gatsby, became a part of the public domain in January 2021, nearly 100 years after the hotshot was introduced to the public. Peter Pan, an obstinate but brave-hearted young boy, entered the public domain in January 1987. Tarzan is part of the public domain and has seen his story retold numerous times, both in television and film.
In fact, Hercules also entered the public domain as the first Greek mythology character and saw a cinematic release in 1997 in Disney’s Hercules. Hercules is known for his God-like strength and superhuman abilities. He is tall, handsome and muscular, sharing qualities of both the gods and humans.