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Blood & Honey Director Is Stunned By Disney’s Silence Over the Film

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  • Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey
    defies expectations with its slasher take on the beloved bear, and the lack of legal action from Disney is surprising.
  • The film’s ability to avoid legal repercussions is a testament to its position in the film landscape and the careful navigation of copyright laws by the crew.
  • The existence of the film opens doors for future filmmakers to explore unconventional retellings of iconic characters as they inch closer to the public domain.

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey delivered a strong gross against its micro-budget in 2023, but its review score was nothing short of dismal. However, filmmaker Rhys Frake-Waterfield is not particularly phased by the slamming his horror take on the honey-loving bear took on Rotten Tomatoes. Speaking in the new edition of SFX Magazine, the director addressed terrible reviews of the movie and how he believes many of them came from critics unfairly comparing his film to big blockbusters. He said:

“It’s a really strange one for me. To be honest, you’ve got to have a really, really thick skin to be a filmmaker because you get heavily, heavily criticized regardless of the means and the resources you have. When your film is out there like that, it literally gets directly compared to Marvel films, even though you’re on 0.01% of their budget. We probably didn’t have their catering budget! They’re substantially different. But because of the scale Winnie went to, a lot of the critics did almost like-for-like comparisons.”

Winnie The Pooh: Blood And Honey

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey

Release Date
February 15, 2023

Rhys Frake-Waterfield

Natasha Tosini , Amber Doig-Thorne , Craig David Dowsett

1hr 24min

Rhys Frake-Waterfield

Jagged Edge Productions

A horror retelling of the famous legend of Winnie-The-Pooh.

Winnie-the-Pooh typically evokes memories of a joyful, honey-adoring bear strolling amidst the Hundred Acre Wood, surrounded by his pals. However, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey transformed the cherished bear from childhood tales into a haunting slasher, a departure from the gentle world A. A. Milne crafted.

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey Avoided a Disney Lawsuit

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey movie 2023
Altitude Film Distribution

Although the world of Pooh became part of the public domain, there was always a chance that the legal department of Disney may have come knocking on Frake-Waterfield’s door with a cease and desist demand. However, that did not happen, as the director managed to avoid treading on the toes of the House of Mouse’s version of the character, although he still expressed his amazement at this lack of reaction in an interview with IndieWire. He said,

“If they wanted to, Disney could have shut us down,” he said. “Like, the company is so fucking massive, they could have just gone — even if they had no grounds for it — ‘Well, we’re suing you and we’re just gonna throw the book at you. And we’re just gonna tie you up legally. And this will not go out there.’ So there was that, that risk that even if we did everything 100%, they could just intentionally be litigators. But they didn’t.”

The fact that Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey remains untouched legally is a testament to its position in the film landscape. Disney’s proactive stance in safeguarding its intellectual properties from potential breaches is widely recognized. The meticulous preparation and navigation around copyright laws by the crew of this slasher film become all the more commendable considering this reputation.

While all of Milne’s creations are now up for grabs, thanks to the public domain status they’ve achieved in 2022, the unique elements Disney added to these characters are not. The film, therefore, had to steer clear of mirroring, for instance, Disney’s distinct voice portrayals of Pooh and Piglet.

How Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood & Honey Could Mark a Cinematic Revolution

Winnie the Pooh walks with a large knife in his hands towards a victim while a car is burning in the background in Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey.
Altitude Film Distribution

Frake-Waterfield raises an intriguing point regarding the sheer might of Disney. Even without any solid legal ground, the company’s sheer influence and resources could have potentially overwhelmed Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey, especially given its modest $100,000 budget. Yet, the film’s existence, despite its challenges, opens doors for future filmmakers. As iconic characters, even ones as legendary as Mickey Mouse, inch closer to the public domain, the possibilities for unconventional and radical retellings expand.

This trend seems to be catching on, with Frake-Waterfield spearheading the movement. The director is gearing up to unleash a wave of horror reinterpretations of childhood classics. Fans and newcomers alike can expect chilling sequels like Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey 2, and other dark takes like Bambi: The Reckoning and Peter Pan’s Neverland Nightmare.


How Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey Became an Instant Cult Classic Despite Terrible Reviews

Here’s how Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey gained cult classic status despite poor reviews from critics.

The potential surge in such adaptations indicates a revolutionary shift in cinematic storytelling. It’s crucial, however, for filmmakers diving into this territory to be vigilant about copyright laws and avoid unintentionally stepping on the toes of major conglomerates. But with Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey setting a precedent, there’s an undeniable optimism in the air for more such adaptations.

Rather than just making a new cinematic category, Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey embodies the potential to reshape how stories are told in film. While the road ahead is filled with uncertainties, one thing is sure: the world of cinema is set for some thrillingly unexpected tales.

Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey is currently available on VOD platforms.

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