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Disney angers fans as it “kills off” Christopher Robin

Pooh loses his oldest friend as Walt Disney “kills off” Christopher Robin by replacing him with a new Disney-created character for 2007.

Last week, with a major court victory under its belt, The Walt Disney Company consolidated its hold on the film rights the Winnie the Pooh stories and characters. The media giant had been locked in a bitter battle for years with descendants of author A.A. Milne and representatives of his estate.

The Milnes had claimed Disney owed the estate and family millions of dollars in royalties from its profits from the Pooh franchise. Forbes magazine says Pooh generated $5 billion in sales in 38 countries and 29 languages for Disney.

With that issue settled, Disney plans a major re-branding of the Pooh franchise into a computer-animated and decidedly non-Milne direction to be called My Friends Tigger and Pooh, which is set to debut on the Disney Channel in 2007. As part of that makeover, Disney says it has no place for the only human Pooh character, Christopher Robin.

This has Winnie the Pooh fans in an uproar. A.A. Milne created the Pooh stories specifically for his son, Christopher Robin Milne.

The first Pooh stories appeared in print in 1926. For its 80th birthday, Disney plans to scrap the original concept of a gentle, idyllic 100-acre wood that has appealed to generations of children and rebuild the Pooh universe as an action-oriented cartoon for the Disney Channel.

“The feeling was these timeless characters really needed a breath of fresh air,” Nancy Kantor, Vice President of Programming at Disney said.

That means in a bid to appeal to its target audiences, gentle British Christopher Robin was given the sack. He will be replaced by an (as yet) unnamed little girl, an American character Disney calls an action-loving tomboy.

David Speakman

David Speakman has spent more than two decades as a writer/editor, photographer, graphic designer and manager of creative teams in broadcast, print and the Internet. His education is in journalism, graphic design, organizational communication and law.

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