Disney has had a rough ride with sequels in the past, can Frozen 2 break the spell or will it leave audiences cold?
Frozen smashed the box-office raking in $1.276 billion worldwide. Unsurprisingly, the film is the second highest-grossing animated film of all time.
It makes absolute sense, then, to come up with a follow up, right? But that wasn’t the actual plan… even with those huge, huge numbers!!!
“We hadn’t been talking about [a sequel] at all,” said the film’s writer and co-director Jennifer Lee to entertainment and science-tech online platform, io9.gizmodo.
“[But] by the time we started talking about it all we had to say was ‘We actually have an idea for Frozen…’ [and they, Walt Disney Animation Studios, interrupted us] ‘What do you need? Go ahead. Spend some time in the story room. Take a month. Just enjoy yourselves.’ So we had no plans at all.”
To start with, Frozen was not an instant hit when it first came out in 2013. It took a few days before the movie started gaining momentum at the box-office, something that surprised its creators even today.
“It was crazy,” said co-production designer Lisa Keene.
“We were a little team that was not really much of anything. We were in the back working on this little project that the studio tried to get off the ground many times and then couldn’t.
“And so we were on the task of giving it another try. ‘Let’s see how it goes.’ And I don’t think anybody was paying much attention.”
Visual development artist Brittney Lee recalled seeing how the movie gradually snowballed into this big hit loved by people of all ages.
“It was amazing because we loved working on it and it was wonderful to have this sort of worldwide reinforcement that there was something special about it,” she excitedly remembered.
“So it was crazy to see all these videos showing up and these Marines on YouTube shouting ‘Oorah!’ at Elsa and these full classes of little girls dressed up as Elsa.
“I don’t think anyone could have ever anticipated that response. So it was just very fulfilling and rewarding to have something be responded to that much.”
Developing a follow-up was an afterthought brought about by love rather than merely riding on the commercial success of the original.
“It was really just pressure on ourselves,” co-director Chris Buck said.
“It was more about [us] falling in love with the characters and then realizing there’s so much more story to tell. These characters are just starting their lives.”
In Frozen 2, Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest in an enchanted land. They want to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.
We’re yet to find out if the sequel will equal or surpass the success of its predecessor.
But the team behind the franchise now knows better when it comes to sequels and comebacks.
“As we say in our lives, ‘never say never’, said Chris.
“But for us that’s what got us figuring out what the story [of Frozen 2] would be a few years ago. What if we could tell one complete story? A lot of things in Frozen 2 answer some of the questions in Frozen, or questions you didn’t know about.”
Jennifer agrees, adding: “We didn’t do a cliffhanger with the first one [either]. I think, for us, this is the journey that [the characters] was meant to take. Will there be more? There are always unanswered questions but we still have to finish this one.”
Starring: Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad