February 2, 1928 – Charles Mintz Signs New Oswald Contract with Universal
“Never again will I work for somebody else.” – Walt Disney
On February 2, 1928, Charles Mintz, the distributor for Disney’s Oswald the Lucky Rabbit short films, signed a three-year contract with Universal. This contract with Universal would give the company new Oswald shorts, without the involvement of Walt Disney. Mintz had been working since early 1928 to pull Walt’s animators from him to create a new studio producing Oswald short films. Ub Iwerks had been approached and refused the offer; he then went to Walt to warn him of Mintz’s backdoor deals. Walt was optimistic about the future of Oswald and didn’t heed Ub’s warning, instead heading to New York to negotiate a new contract with Mintz. Walt asked for $2500 a short film, but Mintz only offered a paltry $1800, much less than the $2250 Disney had been making, and gloated about having stolen Walt’s key animators from him. Although Walt tried to stall making a decision, including trying to get Universal to intervene on his behalf, Mintz dropped the ultimate bombshell: Universal had the rights to the Oswald character, not Walt, and Universal sided with Mintz. Walt then headed home after accepting defeat and informing Mintz that he would not accept a new deal, but it was not too long after that Walt and Ub would come up with the character that would create a company: Mickey Mouse.