Lost Disney film showing Mickey Mouse's predecessor found in Japan

Join Mickey and Minnie for a magical celebration this December as Disney On Ice presents Mickeys Super Celebration

Neck "n" Neck is one of 27 cartoons made as part of the series, which became embroiled in an intellectual property dispute that resulted in Disney forfeiting the rights for Oswald the Rabbit to Universal Studios.

Oswald was phased out by Disney after legal wrangling over the character's rights led to another company gaining control over the creation - described in Disney archives as a "brazen theft" - leading the famed cartoonist to devise another animal-based character - Mickey Mouse - in 1928.

The two-minute black-and-white footage features "Oswald The Lucky Rabbit", a long-eared character with a button nose which inspired Mickey Mouse.

It wasn't until Watanabe read a book released past year called Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons by Disney animator David Bossert that he realized several of the shorts were missing.

However, Watanabe's 70-year-old copy, which he bought for 500 yen in 1928 under the title Mickey Manga Spide (translated to "Mickey cartoon speedy"), is only two minutes long - three minutes cut for the 16mm version sold for home projection use.

He only recently discovered that he was sitting on a piece of film history that was long thought lost after reading the book Oswald the Lucky Rabbit: The Search for the Lost Disney Cartoons, written by Disney animator David Bossert, which came out a year ago. They confirmed that "Neck n' Neck" was, indeed, one of the prodigal cartoons.

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"As I've been a Disney fan for many years, I'm happy I was able to play a role (in the discovery)", Mr Watanabe told the paper.

His childhood purchase is now housed at the Kobe Planet Film Archive, and another film showing 50 seconds of the same cartoon has also been unearthed at the Toy Film Museum in Kyoto, the newspaper said.

In 2015, another lost animation featuring Oswald was found in the BFI's archives. Disney asked for a budget increase, but Mintz balked, countering for a decrease in the production budget instead.

In the short film, Oswald and his girlfriend are in a auto being chased by a dog police officer on a motorcycle. Or experience the uncanny valley of Mickey and Oswald together on the same screen.

Mickey Mouse, the brainchild of cartoonist Walt Disney, celebrates his 90th birthday.

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