Does the above title, for a Disney animated short, seem familiar to you?
Don’t feel bad if it isn’t… Until today I certainly hadn’t heard of it.
Runaway Brain was a short created way back in 1995 which featured, for the first time in decades a “new” story involving Disney’s principle character creation: Mickey Mouse. I could get into the details of the making and subsequent release of the short and its legacy (which seems to be none), but rather than do so, let me point out this article by Drew Taylor and presented on polygon.com which goes in depth into…
Again, the article does a very good job explaining why this short, which began as an attempt to triumphantly bring back Mickey Mouse, is now essentially buried, and the bottom line is one which has occurred in plenty of different occasions:
One “boss” green lights a project, they go over it and agree with what will be done, and when said project nears its end/conclusion, a new “boss” comes in an decides what was ok for the previous regimen isn’t good for them.
Changes were made, professionals involved were angered and frustrated, and ultimately a watered down version of the product is released and subsequently -because Disney is big enough to do so- the final product is purposely buried.
The fact that the product involves what is arguably Disney’s “biggest” character, Mickey Mouse, makes the story all the more intriguing. That and the fact that, unlike Song of the South, the short doesn’t involve racial stereotypes or outmoded/offensive ways of thinking about races, the main reason Disney refuses to release any formal version of Song of the South to the public.
It’s a fascinating story but, truthfully, if you follow the history of any major studio, you’ll find similar stories just like this, of projects that have gone off the rails and movies/TV shows/what-have-you that eventually limped out into general or limited release, then essentially being forgotten or allowed to be forgotten.
Still, a fascinating story, if you’re interested in reading about it!