Wait, How Is There a Non-Disney 'Cinderella'? There's a (Complicated) Answer

Most of us grew up watching Walt Disney Pictures' 'Cinderella,' but the beloved princess has a long history. Does Disney own Cinderella? Not exactly.

Jacqueline Gualtieri - Author

Sep. 3 2021, Published 9:03 p.m. ET

Prince Charming and Cinderella
Source: Disney

Disney has retold the story of Cinderella multiple times over the years, but most people are most familiar with its 1950 animated classic. The picture is so beloved that, for many, the story of Cinderella is simply synonymous with Disney. Who doesn't automatically think of the Cinderella Castle when they think of Walt Disney World? And who doesn't picture that iconic blue ball gown when they imagine the princess?

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But although many think that Disney owns the rights to Cinderella's tale, her history starts centuries before the 1950s. Who owns Cinderella? Well, it's hard to know where to start. Although we associate Cinderella with Disney and may be surprised that Amazon Prime Video could have their own version of the story, Cinderella has been around long before she got her Prince Charming and fairy godmother.

Source: Disney
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Does Disney own Cinderella?

Despite the 1950 classic film, Disney does not own Cinderella. The company owns the rights to its version of her. That blue ball gown, the blonde updo, Jaq and Gus — those are all parts of the story that are Disney's. But it doesn't outright own the heroine.

Although the Brothers Grimm are often misattributed as being the creators of the original tale, the version of Cinderella that most closely resembles Disney's animated film was written over a hundred years earlier than the Brothers Grimm's dark (and torturous) tale. Cendrillon was written by Charles Perrault in 1697, and the story features a lot of the classic symbols we've come to associate with Cinderella. He added the pumpkin, the fairy godmother, and the glass slippers.

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But it's worth noting that 1697 was far from the first year the world met Cinderella, and Perrault was far from the first person to write about her. "La Gatta Cenerentola," which appears in Giambattista Basile's 1634 work Il Pentamerone, is considered the first European story of Cinderella, and Perrault took inspiration from Basile for his Cendrillon.

Source: Twitter
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But Cinderella had already existed in some form in Japan, Korea, and the Philippines. Several versions of Cinderella's story also appear in One Thousand and One Nights.

It's believed, though, that the first story of Cinderella came from Greek historian Strabo, who told the tale of Rhodopis, an enslaved Greek girl who marries the king of Egypt. The brief passage tells of an eagle who, while Rhodopis was bathing, stole her sandal. He carried the sandal to the king and flung it in his lap. Stirred by the strangeness of what had happened and the beauty of the sandal's shape, he sent his men out to find the woman the sandal belonged to.

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Source: Twitter

Strabo wrote the story in his Geographica, which was initially published in 7 B.C., though it's possible that Rhodopis's story was original written in a later edition. In any case, that means that her story was at least published before 23 A.D. Even still, Rhodopis's origin might be able to be traced back five centuries before Strabo to a Thracian courtesan by the same name.

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Though Disney's version of Cinderella is the one that's most well-known today, her story isn't one company's property. Fairy tales don't exactly work that way.

Camila Cabello in 'Cinderella'
Source: Amazon Prime Video

So, will the new 'Cinderella' ever be on Disney Plus?

That's going to be a definite no. Disney had nothing to do with 2021's Cinderella. The new film is the doing of Amazon Studios, which is why it can be found on Amazon Prime Video.

The new Cinderella is available to stream now.

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