POSTED: Friday, April 25, 2014 - 4:13pm
UPDATED: Sunday, April 27, 2014 - 12:46pm
“The Lion King,” Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy,” “Star Wars,” and “Toy Story”; what do all of these films have in common? It’s simply really, they aren’t “Frozen”. Ever since it was released back in November, Disney’s latest animation film has been breaking box office records. In the time span of four months, “Frozen” has not only been titled the Highest Grossing Animated Film of All Time, but it has also become the eighth Highest Grossing Film ever. It made more than 644 million dollars while in theaters. It also was the recipient of two Oscars; Best Animated Film, and Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures. The music went on to the be the inspiration of countless parodies as well as provide enough reasons for parents to hate the idea of Disney ever releasing another animated musical ever again. Despite the annoyance with several parents, Disney has outdone itself yet again. Now, among the many questions film companies are asking themselves is, “how did Disney pull it off? What makes Frozen one of Disney’s most successful films ever?”
*WARNING* This review contains spoilers, so for the few who have yet to see the film, be warned.
“Frozen,” tells the story of two sister, Anna and Elsa, who are closed off from each other at a young age following an accident. While playing with each other, Elsa, who has icy powers, accidentally hits Anna with a “spell.” Now this didn’t seriously hurt Anna, but it made the girls’ parents, The King and Queen of the kingdom Arendelle, fear for their children. In order to keep both of them safe, they separated the girls. This ways Elsa powers wouldn’t hurt Anna, and Elsa could be kept away from hurting others while also learning to control her abilities. Years later both of the girls parents are killed after their ship gets caught up in a storm and sinks to the bottom of the ocean. The girls are left alone, Anna without parents and a broke relationship with her sister, and Elsa left without guidance on how to control her powers.
Elsa finally becomes of age to be named Queen of Arendelle. The Kingdom throws a huge, lavish celebration. Here Anna and Elsa finally see each other and reconnect for the first time since the accident. Elsa, still not yet able to control her powers, starts to become afraid. She then unknowing casts a spell over Arendelle causing it to be in an eternal wintery state, and runs off into the mountains. Anna then goes off to not only find and help her sister, but to also lift the curse over the kingdom.
It’s basically a nicer version of “The Snow Queen” fairly tale.
REASON FOR SUCCESS
After looking at the summery of the movie, one might find themselves asking, “this is the most successful Disney animated movies of all time?” In all honesty, “Frozen” is a “solid” (pun intended) movie, but the thing that contributed most to its success was simply when it was released.
Frozen was released on November 27, of last year. For two months it was the only kid-friendly movie in theaters. Reason being, December is one of the most sought after movie spots for Oscar films. This is the month right before the award season starts to kick off. Films that filled the theater at this time including titles such as “12 Years A Slave,” “Her,” “Nebraska,” and “The Wolf of Wall Street,” all of which aren’t the greatest kid-friendly films. Also during this time “Frozen” was the only film option for parents who wanted to preoccupy their kids during the winter break. It was also the only option for families who wanted to spend Christmas together at the movies. You see, this Christmas saw the release of “The Wolf of Wall Street,” which is basically porn with drugs, and “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” a great movie, but not something young children would be entertained by. To put things into perspective, “Frozen” was in the Top 10 at the box office for 17 weeks in a row.
Another thing that help its success is, of course, the music.
Making an animated film can be a risk for film companies. In fact, the only companies that have every really succeeded have been Fox, DreamWorks, and Disney. Despite their animated success, Fox and DreamWorks have yet to produce a successful animated musical in the past 10 years. Disney has been the only company to consistently produce one of this kind.
Now part of the reason for this is because Disney has such a large repertoire of songs from movies that when people see them making an animated musical, they’re automatically intrigued. Almost all of their animated songs have become iconic. From “"The Bare Necessities,” in “The Jungle Book,” to "Hakuna Matata" in “The Lion King,” most everyone’s childhood is filled with these type of songs. The catchy tunes that fill the hour and a half that is “Frozen,” are just a reminder of how important these types of movies are for children.
It also was a great reminder for those who grew up in the 90s, of their childhood. This proves that Disney still knows how to create magic.
Also it helps that it had Idina Menzel, the wicked witch from the Broadway musical “Wicked” singing “Let It Go.”
With “Frozen,” Disney stays with its formula for casting in making princess films. The ensemble includes the princess (in this case princesses) Anna and Elsa; the hero and his noble steed, Kristoff and Sven, and then the comic relief character, which ends up being everyone’s favorite, Olaf.
The interactions with these characters created the magical blend of attitudes that it was so easy to find similarities between the characters and people in real life.
With “Frozen,” Disney decided to take a different approach with conflict and resolution. In past films it’s always been the evil witch who tries to destroy the princess, and the only person who can stop her in the hero. Then, once all is said and done, the prince and princess get married and live happily blah blah blah.
In this film the messages are the complete opposite.
The messages are you can’t marry a man you just met, because the person you marry could turn out to be evil; you don’t always need a man to rescue you; the bond between siblings is ever lasting.
Those are some things little kids don’t hear very often nowadays.
Around two months after Frozen hit theaters it was discovered that “Frozen” was connected to 2010’s “Tangled,” and the 1989’s “The Little Mermaid.”
Now this was only a theory of a Disney fan, but it created more buzz for an already buzzing movie.
During the song, “For the First Time in Forever,” when Anna is running out of the gate to the castle, Rupunzel and Flynn Rider, the main characters from “Tangled,” can be seen for a split second.
This brought up a theory that Anna and Elsa’s father died while on their way to Rupunzel and Rider’s wedding at the end of “Tangled.”
The two then went to Elsa’s coronation day (the day she becomes of age to become the queen) because they’re felt guilty for the death of her parents.
This then lead to the speculation that the ship Ariel discovers in “The Little Mermaid,” is in fact, the very ship Anna and Elsa’s parents died on.
Whether or not that’s true, who knows, but it generated interest in a film that had so many followers already.
The success of “Frozen” is well deserved, but to be honest the extent of its success is due to number of circumstances; it’s release date, the popularity of the songs and characters, and the unique spin it put on a classic princess tale.
It is the best animated musical to hit theaters in the past several years. Is it as great as the classics however, only time will tell.
So if you’re unsure about seeing the film, it’s understandable. However, you may love it; in the end “love is an open door” anyway. So take the skepticism, and “let it go,” and accept the fact that you, like many others, just “want to build a snowman.”