Mickey Mouse (originally Mickey Mouse Sound Cartoons) is a character-based series of 130 animated short films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. The films, which introduced Disney's most famous cartoon character, were released on a regular basis from 1928 to 1953 with four additional shorts released between 1983 and 2013. The series is notable for its innovation with sound synchronization and character animation, and also introduced well-known characters such as Minnie Mouse, Pluto, and Goofy.
The name "Mickey Mouse" was first used in the films' title sequences to refer specifically to the character, but was used from 1935 to 1953 to refer to the series itself as in "Walt Disney presents a Mickey Mouse." In this sense "a Mickey Mouse" was a shortened form of "a Mickey Mouse sound cartoon" which was used in the earliest films. Films from 1929 to 1935 which were re-released during this time also used this naming convention, but it was not used for the three shorts released between 1983 and 1995 (Mickey's Christmas Carol, The Prince and the Pauper, and Runaway Brain). Mickey's name was also used occasionally to market other films which were formally part of other series. Examples of this include several Silly Symphonies, Don Donald (1937), and Goofy and Wilbur (1939).
Mickey Mouse began production in April 1928 after the Disney studio lost the license to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. The first two films, Plane Crazy and The Gallopin' Gaucho, were previewed in theaters but failed to pick up a distributor. For the third film, Disney added synchronized sound, a technology that was still in its early stages at the time. Steamboat Willie debuted in New York in November 1928 and was an instant success. The revenues from the film provided the studio with much needed resources, and the studio quickly began to produce new cartoons as well as releasing sound versions of the first two.
Production slowed towards the end of the 1930s as the studio began to focus on other characters and feature-length films. The series was informally retired in 1953 with the release of The Simple Things, but was revived in 1983 and 1990 with two featurettes, or three reel short films. 1995's Runaway Brain returned the series to its single reel format, while the most recent installment, 2013's Get a Horse!, was produced in the black-and-white style of the early films.
The cartoons were directed by 20 different people. Those with the most credits include Burt Gillett (34), Wilfred Jackson (18), Walt Disney (16), David Hand (15), and Ben Sharpsteen (14); the director of the most recent installment, Lauren MacMullan, was the first female director. Notable animators who worked on the series include Ub Iwerks, Norm Ferguson, Ollie Johnston, Frank Thomas, and Fred Moore. Mickey's voice is mostly provided by Walt Disney, with some additional work by Carl Stalling and Clarence Nash. By 1947, Jimmy MacDonald had taken over Mickey's voice. Wayne Allwine voices the mouse in the three most recent films.
The following is a list of Mickey Mouse films in the order of their official release dates. Unless otherwise noted, dates are original theatrical releases in the United States. Gray headers indicate black-and-white films while yellow headers indicate color films.
Every Mickey Mouse cartoon was originally released theatrically, typically appearing before feature films. In 1929, some theaters began to host the "Mickey Mouse Club", a children's program which would exclusively show Mickey's cartoons. The series was first distributed by Celebrity Productions (1928–1929), followed by Columbia Pictures (1930–1932), United Artists (1932–1937), and RKO Radio Pictures (1937–1953). The four most recent films were released by Disney's own companies Buena Vista and Walt Disney Pictures.
Many of the films were also broadcast on television, beginning in 1936 on BBC Television. Here the series was shown on a regular basis except during World War II. In the United States, selected films were shown on the Walt Disney anthology television series, and later on other series such as The Mouse Factory (1971–1973), Mickey's Mouse Tracks (1992–1999), and Ink & Paint Club (1997–1998).
The films have also been released in various forms of home entertainment. In the 1960s there were several 8 mm and Super 8 releases, although these were often silent, black-and-white, or condensed versions. In 1978, Disney began to release selected films on VHS, laserdisc, and later DVD. (see List of Walt Disney and Buena Vista video releases) Starting in 2010, some of the cartoons were made available on the iTunes Store as digital downloads.
Disney has also released films online. At the Disney website, cartoons are shown on a rotating basis under the video page "Mickey & Friends". On Walt Disney Animation Studios' official YouTube channel, three complete cartoons have been released: Plane Crazy (1928), Steamboat Willie (1928), and Hawaiian Holiday (1937), and most of Thru the Mirror (1936) as seen on the Disneyland episode "The Plausible Impossible" (1956).
As of 2011, the only complete re-release of the entire series has been in the "Walt Disney Treasures" DVD sets. The vast majority of the series appears between four two-disc sets: "Mickey Mouse in Black and White" (2002), "Mickey Mouse in Black and White, Volume Two" (2004), "Mickey Mouse in Living Color" (2001), and "Mickey Mouse in Living Color, Volume Two" (2004). Film critic Leonard Maltin, who hosts the collection, implied that there was opposition to releasing the complete series because of some content now considered politically incorrect, such as racial and ethnic stereotypes. Maltin argued that releasing the material uncensored was the only way to "learn from the past". The only film not included in this collection was the subsequently released Get a Horse! (2013) which first premiered at the Annecy International Animated Film Festival and was shown ahead of Frozen.