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Mickey: The Story Of A Mouse - What We Know So Far

The history of the Walt Disney Company is about as dense, detailed, and full of complex ramifications as the history of contemporary American entertainment in itself. As such, it has been the subject of countless inventories throughout the years, focused on themes as wide-ranging as its stars and production woes, its classic films, its TV programming, its moral standards, its comic books, its government relations, and its parks. Whether harboring positive or negative feelings for the company and its output in and of itself, there are myriad angles through which an interested party might approach the subject of the Mouse. And one of those angles is, of course, the mouse himself.

On that note, the upcoming Disney+ documentary "Mickey: The Story of a Mouse" proposes to take a look at the trajectory of the iconic mascot whose face has been the front of the shop for the Disney empire for nearly a century. Produced as a Disney Original Documentary, "Mickey" promises to be both an only-fair tribute to a character whose presence in the Western cultural imagination has been nothing short of titanic for several generations, and a fascinating inside look into the nuts and bolts of Disney's history as a studio that's sure to enthrall animation aficionados young and old. The story of Mickey, after all, is not just the story of a mouse, but the story of an entire corporation — which, in turn, runs parallel to the story of a whole industry. Here's everything we know about this soon-to-be-released film.

What is Mickey: The Story of a Mouse about?

The title of "Mickey: The Story of a Mouse" just about sums up the focus of the documentary, while also hinting at the larger scope it covers. It's the metatextual story of Mickey Mouse, the animated character first introduced to the general public in the seminal 1928 short film "Steamboat Willie," who has since gone on to become one of the world's most universally recognizable and popular cartoon personalities. At the same time, it's the story of the artists and executives whose own lives and times intersected with Mickey's.

The official synopsis states, "Mickey Mouse is one of the most enduring symbols in our history. Those three simple circles take on meaning for virtually everyone on the planet. So ubiquitous in our lives that he can seem invisible, Mickey is something we all share, with unique memories and feelings. Over the course of his nearly century-long history, Mickey functions like a mirror, reflecting our personal and cultural values back at us."

Critics who have already seen the film, including those at The Wrap and The Hollywood Reporter, do note that, as a company-produced film, "Mickey: The Story of a Mouse" naturally endeavors to offer a positive and uplifting look at Mickey, charting the character's evolution in tandem with 20th-century history while glossing over Disney's own shadier implications in that history. But what the film lacks in bite, it reportedly makes up for in access to material straight from the Disney vault.

What is the release date of Mickey: The Story of a Mouse?

The project that would eventually become "Mickey: The Story of a Mouse" was first announced on October 18, 2019. At the time, Variety reported that, as part of a general initiative to develop a clearer programming strategy, Disney+ — which would only launch officially a month later on November 12, mind you — was making a concentrated effort to increase its offer of original nonfiction content. Among the newly-greenlit projects was a yet-untitled Mickey Mouse documentary, which would aim to "'work to decode Mickey's deeper significance' and its cultural impact," with A-list documentary filmmaker Morgan Neville attached as a producer.

Cut to just over two years later, and "Mickey: The Story of a Mouse" was officially announced as part of the Documentary Spotlight section of the 2022 South by Southwest (SXSW) film festival lineup, where it would have its world premiere (via Deadline). The premiere in question happened on March 19, 2022, ahead of a planned release straight to Disney+.

Now, three years after the original announcement, the time has finally rolled around for that Disney+ release. "Mickey: The Story of a Mouse" will be made available for streaming to Disney+ subscribers worldwide on Friday, November 18, 2022. That date choice is, of course, very deliberate — November 18 was the day "Steamboat Willie" first premiered in 1928, so this Mickey tribute doc will be hitting screens on the exact day of the mouse's 94th birthday.

Who is the director of Mickey: The Story of a Mouse?

Although much fanfare was made about the involvement of Oscar-winning documentary director Morgan Neville, "Mickey: The Story of a Mouse" is directed not by Neville, who worked on it as a producer. Instead, it's helmed by Jeff Malmberg.

A veteran producer and editor of film and TV, Malmberg cut his teeth in the documentary world by editing films like "Red White Black & Blue" and "Women in White," before turning to directing documentaries himself with 2010's "Marwencol." Telling the story of artist and photographer Mark Hogancamp, who coped with a severely debilitating violent assault by constructing a 1/6-scale World War II-era miniature town in his backyard, the film was met with universal critical acclaim and several awards, even inspiring Robert Zemeckis to lift its story for the controversial 2018 fact-based drama "Welcome to Marwen."

After the success of "Marwencol," Malmberg continued to work on documentaries, with the relationship between fictional constructions and personal and cultural histories remaining his favored subject. In the well-received yet underseen 2017 film "Spettacolo," he told the story of Monticchiello, a small hill town in Tuscany, Italy, which holds an annual tradition in which townspeople join forces to dramatize their lives and major community events into a stage play. Given his experience with stories of metafictional interest, it's no wonder that Malmberg was tapped to tell the story of Disney by way of its greatest cultural symbol.

Is there a trailer for Mickey: The Story of a Mouse?

At the moment, the official, English-language Disney+ channel on YouTube only lists a tiny 31-second teaser for "Mickey: The Story of a Mouse." The teaser opens on the man himself, Walt Disney, opening up a gigantic "Mickey Mouse" storybook while delivering some choice words: "During the last few years, we've ventured into a lot of different themes ... I only hope that we never lose sight of one thing: It was all started by a mouse." This solemn declaration is followed up by some rapid-fire, emotionally charged editing that reminds us of just how ridiculously ubiquitous Mickey is in American culture across space and time — just enough to inspire curiosity for the whole movie.

Those who want a more in-depth, properly fleshed-out sneak peek, however, can turn for now to a Portuguese-subtitled full trailer that was posted to the Disney+ Brazil channel on September 11, 2022. Summing up the appeal of Mickey's tale as stemming from a simple yet unexpected idea, the trailer suggests several possible explanations for his enduring popularity — an offer of hope in trying times, a reminder of innocence — while also making a point of noting that Mickey faced several stumbles on his way to global stardom. At the same time, Mickey's rise and transformations throughout the 20th century are posited as mirroring significant events like World War II and the rise of counterculture. Talk about a mouse who has seen a lot.