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Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Chris Buck|
|Produced by||Peter Del Vecho|
|Screenplay by||Jennifer Lee|
|Story by||Chris Buck|
|Based on||The Snow Queen |
by Hans Christian Andersen
|Music by||Christophe Beck|
|Editing by||Jeff Draheim|
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures|
Walt Disney Animation Studios
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios|
|Running time||102 minutes|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Chris Buck|
|Produced by||Peter Del Vecho|
|Screenplay by||Jennifer Lee|
|Story by||Chris Buck|
|Based on||The Snow Queen |
by Hans Christian Andersen
|Music by||Christophe Beck|
|Editing by||Jeff Draheim|
|Studio||Walt Disney Pictures|
Walt Disney Animation Studios
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios|
|Running time||102 minutes|
Frozen is a 2013 American 3D computer-animated musical fantasy-comedy film produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 53rd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale The Snow Queen, and featuring the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, and Santino Fontana, the film tells the story of a fearless princess who sets off on an epic journey alongside a rugged, thrill-seeking mountain man, his loyal pet reindeer, and a hapless snowman to find her estranged sister, whose icy powers have inadvertently trapped the kingdom in eternal winter.
The film underwent several story treatments for several years, before being commissioned in 2011, with a screenplay written by Jennifer Lee, and both Chris Buck and Lee serving as directors. Christophe Beck, who had worked on Disney's award-winning short Paperman, was hired to compose the film's orchestral score, while husband-and-wife songwriting team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez penned the songs.
Frozen premiered at the El Capitan Theatre on November 19, 2013, and went into general release on November 27. Not accounting for inflation, the film is the highest-grossing animated film of all time and the ninth highest-grossing film of all time, having so far grossed $1.09 billion in worldwide box office revenue, $398 million of which in the United States and Canada. It was met with widespread critical acclaim, and several film critics considered it to be the best Disney animated musical since the studio's renaissance era. The film won two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song ("Let It Go"), the Golden Globe Award for Best Animated Feature Film, the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film, five Annie Awards (including Best Animated Feature), and two Critics' Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song ("Let It Go").
Elsa, princess of Arendelle, possesses the magical ability to create ice and snow. One night while playing, she accidentally injures her younger sister, Anna. The king and queen seek help from trolls, who heal Anna and remove her memories of Elsa's magic. The royal couple isolates the children in their castle until Elsa learns to control her powers. Afraid of hurting Anna again, Elsa spends most of her time alone in her room, causing a rift between the girls as they grow up. When the girls are teenagers, their parents die at sea during a storm.
When Elsa comes of age, the kingdom prepares for her coronation. Among the guests is the Duke of Weselton, who seeks to exploit Arendelle for profit. Excited to be allowed out of the castle again, Anna explores the town and meets Prince Hans of the Southern Isles, and the two immediately develop a mutual attraction. Despite Elsa's fear, her coronation goes off without incident. During the reception, Hans proposes and Anna hastily accepts. However, Elsa refuses to grant her blessing and forbids their sudden marriage. The sisters argue, culminating in the exposure of Elsa's abilities during an emotional outburst.
Panicking, Elsa flees the castle, while inadvertently unleashing an eternal winter on the kingdom. High in the nearby mountains, she casts off restraint, building herself a solitary ice palace, and unknowingly brings to life her and Anna's childhood snowman, Olaf. Meanwhile, Anna sets out in search of her sister, determined to return her to Arendelle, end the winter, and mend their relationship. While obtaining supplies, she meets mountain man Kristoff and his reindeer Sven. She convinces Kristoff to guide her up the North Mountain. The group then encounters Olaf, who leads them to Elsa's hideaway.
Anna and Elsa reunite, but Elsa still fears hurting her sister. When Anna persists in persuading her sister to return, Elsa becomes agitated and accidentally strikes Anna in the heart with her powers. Horrified, Elsa creates a giant snow creature to drive Anna, Kristoff, and Olaf away. As they flee, Kristoff notices Anna's hair is turning white, and deduces something is very wrong. He seeks help from the trolls, his adoptive family, who explain that Anna's heart has been frozen. Unless it is thawed by an "act of true love", she will become frozen solid forever. Believing that only Hans can save Anna, Kristoff races back with her to Arendelle.
Meanwhile, Hans, leading a search for Anna, reaches Elsa's palace. In the ensuing battle against the Duke's men, Elsa is knocked unconscious and imprisoned back at the kingdom. There, Hans pleads with her to undo the winter, but Elsa confesses she doesn't know how. When Anna reunites with Hans and begs him to kiss her to break the curse, Hans refuses and reveals that his true intention in marrying her was to seize control of Arendelle's throne. Leaving Anna to die, he charges Elsa with treason for her younger sister's apparent death.
Elsa escapes and heads out into the blizzard on the fjord. Olaf finds Anna and reveals Kristoff is in love with her; they then escape onto the fjord to find him. Hans confronts Elsa and tells her Anna is dead because of her. In Elsa's despair, the storm suddenly ceases, giving Kristoff and Anna the chance to reach each other. However Anna, seeing that Hans is about to kill Elsa, decides to throw herself between the two just as she freezes solid, blocking Hans's attack.
As Elsa grieves for her sister, Anna begins to thaw, since her decision to sacrifice herself to save her sister constitutes an "act of true love." Realizing love is the key to controlling her powers, Elsa is able to thaw the kingdom and even helps Olaf survive in summer. Hans is sent back to the Southern Isles to face punishment for his crimes against the royal family of Arendelle, and Elsa cuts off trade with Weselton. Anna and Kristoff share a kiss, and the two sisters reconcile; Elsa promises never to shut the castle gates again.
In 1943, Walt Disney and Samuel Goldwyn had considered the possibility of collaborating to produce a biography film of author and poet Hans Christian Andersen, where Goldwyn's studio would shoot the live-action sequences of Andersen's life and Disney would create the animated sequences. The animated sequences were to include stories of Andersen's works, such as The Little Mermaid, The Little Match Girl, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Snow Queen, Thumbelina, The Ugly Duckling, The Red Shoes, and The Emperor's New Clothes. Disney and his animators encountered difficulty with The Snow Queen, as they could not find a way to adapt and relate the Snow Queen character to modern audiences. Even as far back as the 1940s, Disney's animation department saw great cinematic possibilities with the source material, but the Snow Queen character proved to be too problematic. This, among other things, led to the cancellation of the Disney-Goldwyn project. Goldwyn went on to produce his own live-action film version in 1952, entitled Hans Christian Andersen, with Danny Kaye as Andersen, Charles Vidor directing, Moss Hart writing, and Frank Loesser penning the songs. All of Andersen's fairy tales were, instead, told in song and ballet in live-action, like the rest of the film. It went on to receive six Academy Award nominations the following year. Back at Disney, The Snow Queen, along with other Andersen fairy tales (including The Little Mermaid), were shelved.
In the late 1990s, Walt Disney Feature Animation started on their own adaptation of The Snow Queen after the tremendous success of their recent films, but the project was scrapped completely in late 2002, when Glen Keane quit the project. Even before then, Harvey Fierstein pitched his version of the story to the Disney executives, but was turned down. Paul and Gaëtan Brizzi, Dick Zondag and Dave Goetz reportedly all had their try on it, but failed. Disney shelved the project again. Michael Eisner, then-CEO and chairman of The Walt Disney Company, offered his support to the project and suggested doing it with John Lasseter at Pixar Animation Studios, when the studios would get their contracts renewed.
The next attempt started in September 2008, after Chris Buck pitched several ideas to Lasseter (who by then had also become Chief Creative Officer of Disney Animation), one of which was The Snow Queen.:6,11 It turned out Lasseter had been interested in The Snow Queen for a long time; back when Pixar was working with Disney on Toy Story in the 1990s, he saw and was "blown away" by some of the preproduction art from Disney's prior attempts.:6 Development began under the title Anna and the Snow Queen, which was planned to be traditionally animated. By early 2010, the project entered development hell once again, when the studio failed to find a way to make the story and the Snow Queen character work.
On December 22, 2011, following the success of Tangled, Disney announced a new title for the film, Frozen, and a release date of November 27, 2013. A month later, it was confirmed that the film would be a computer-animated feature in stereoscopic 3D, instead of the originally intended hand-drawn animation. On March 5, 2012, it was announced that Chris Buck would be directing, with John Lasseter and Peter Del Vecho producing.
After Disney decided to advance The Snow Queen into development again, one of the main challenges Buck and Del Vecho faced was the character of the Snow Queen, who was then a villain in their drafts. The studio has a tradition of screening animated films in development every twelve weeks, then holding lengthy "notes sessions" in which its directors and screenwriters from different projects provide extensive "notes" on each other's work.
Buck and Del Vecho presented their storyboards to Lasseter, and the entire production team adjourned to a conference to hear Lasseter's thoughts on the project. Art director Michael Giaimo later acknowledged Lasseter as the "game changer" of the film: "I remember John saying that the latest version of The Snow Queen story that Chris Buck and his team had come up with was fun, very light-hearted. But the characters didn't resonate. They aren't multi-faceted. Which is why John felt that audiences wouldn't really be able to connect with them."
The production team then addressed the film's problems, drafting several different variations on The Snow Queen story until the characters and story felt relevant. At that stage, the first major breakthrough was the decision to rewrite the film's protagonist, Anna (who was based on the Gerda character from The Snow Queen), as the younger sibling of Elsa, thereby effectively establishing a family dynamic between the characters.
In March 2012, Jennifer Lee, one of the screenwriters of Wreck-It Ralph, was brought in as the film's screenwriter. Lee later explained that as Wreck-It Ralph was wrapping up, she was giving notes on other projects, and "we kind of really connected with what we were thinking."
According to Lee, several core concepts were already in place from Buck and Del Vecho's early work, such as the film's "frozen heart" hook: "That was a concept and the phrase ... an act of true love will thaw a frozen heart." They already knew the ending involved true love in the sense of the emotional bond between siblings, not romance, in that "Anna was going to save Elsa. We didn’t know how or why." Lee said Edwin Catmull, president of Disney Animation, told her early on about the film's ending: "First and foremost, no matter what you have to do to the story, do it. But you have to earn that ending. If you do[,] it will be great. If you don't, it will suck." Lee revealed how the original plot differed sharply from the final version: in the first act, Elsa, the villainous Snow Queen, deliberately struck Anna in the heart with her freezing powers; then "the whole second act was about Anna trying to get to Hans and to kiss him and then Elsa trying to stop her". Buck revealed that the original plot attempted to make Anna sympathetic by focusing on her frustration as being perceived as the "spare" in relation to the "heir," Elsa.
One major breakthrough was the composition of the song "Let It Go" by songwriters Lopez and Anderson-Lopez, which forced the production team to reconceptualize and rewrite Elsa as a far more complex, vulnerable, and sympathetic character. In The Daily Telegraph's words, instead of the villain envisioned by the producers, the songwriters saw Elsa as "a scared girl struggling to control and come to terms with her gift." Lee recalled: "Bobby and Kristen said they were walking in Prospect Park and they just started talking about what would it feel like [to be Elsa]. Forget villain. Just what it would feel like. And this concept of letting out who she is[,] that she's kept to herself for so long[,] and she's alone and free, but then the [sic] sadness of the fact that the last moment is she's alone. It’s not a perfect thing, but it's powerful." Del Vecho explained that "Let It Go" changed Elsa into a person "ruled by fear and Anna was ruled by her own love of other people and her own drive," which in turn caused Lee to "rewrite the first act and then that rippled through the entire movie. So that was when we really found the movie and who these characters were."
Another major breakthrough was developing the plot twist that Prince Hans would be revealed as the film's true villain only near the end. Hans was not even in the earliest drafts, then at first was not a villain, and after becoming one, was revealed to be evil much earlier in the plot. Del Vecho said, "We realized [what] was most important [was] if we were going to make the ending so surprising[,] you had to believe at one point that Hans was the answer ... [when] he's not the answer, it's Kristoff .... [I]f you can get the audience to leap ahead and think they have figured it out[,] you can surprise them by turning it the other way." Lee acknowledged that Hans was written as "sociopathic" and "twisted" throughout the final version. For example, Hans mirrors the behavior of the other characters: "He mirrors [Anna] and he’s goofy with her ... [T]he Duke [of Weselton] is a jerk, so he’s a jerk back. And with Elsa he's a hero." It was difficult to lay the foundation for Anna's belated turn to Kristoff without also making Hans' betrayal of Anna too predictable, in that the audience had to "feel ... her feeling something but not quite understanding it ... Because the minute it is [understood,] it deflated."
Along the way, the production team went through drafts where the first act included far more detail than what ended up in the final version, such as a troll with a Brooklyn accent who would have explained the backstory behind Elsa's magical powers, and a regent for whom Lee was hoping to cast comedian Louis C.K. After all those details were thoroughly "over-analyzed", they were excised because they amounted to a "much more complex story than really we felt like we could fit in this 90-minute film."
The production team also turned Olaf from Elsa's obnoxious sidekick into Anna's comically innocent sidekick. Lee's initial response to the original "mean" version of Olaf had been, "Kill the f-ing snowman", and she found Olaf by far "the hardest character to deal with."
Actress Kristen Bell was cast as the voice of Anna on March 5, 2012. Lee admitted that Bell's casting selection was influenced after the filmmakers listened to a series of vocal tracks Bell had recorded when she was young, where the actress performed several songs from The Little Mermaid, including "Part of Your World". Bell completed her recording sessions while she was pregnant, and subsequently re-recorded some of her character's lines after her pregnancy, as her voice had deepened. As for her approach to the role of Anna, Bell enthused that she had "dreamed of being in a Disney animated film" since she was four years old, saying, "I always loved Disney animation, but there was something about the females that was unattainable to me. Their posture was too good and they were too well-spoken, and I feel like I really made this girl much more relatable and weirder and scrappier and more excitable and awkward. I'm really proud of that."
Idina Menzel, a Broadway veteran, was cast as Elsa. Menzel had formerly auditioned for Tangled, but didn't get the part. However, Tangled's casting director, Jamie Sparer Roberts, preserved a recording of Menzel's performance on her iPhone, and on the basis of that, asked her to audition along with Bell for Frozen. Before they were officially cast, Menzel and Bell deeply impressed the directors at an early table read; after reading the entire script out loud, they sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" together as a duet, since no music had been composed yet. Bell had suggested that idea when she visited Menzel at her California home to prepare together for the table read. Lee later said, "They sung it like sisters and what you mean to me[,] [a]nd there wasn’t a dry eye in the house after they sang." Between December 2012 and June 2013, the casting of additional roles was announced, including Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, Alan Tudyk as the Duke of Weselton, Santino Fontana as Prince Hans, and Josh Gad as Olaf.
Following Lee's extensive involvement in Frozen's development process and her close work with director Buck and songwriters Lopez and Anderson-Lopez, studio heads Lasseter and Catmull promoted her to co-director of the film alongside Buck in August 2012. Her promotion was officially announced on November 29, 2012, making Lee the first woman to direct a full-length animated motion picture produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. She primarily worked on story while Buck focused on animation. Lee later stated that she was "really moved by a lot of what Chris had done" and that they "shared a vision" of the story, having "very similar sensibilities".
In June 2013, Disney conducted test screenings of the still-incomplete film with audiences in Phoenix, Arizona, at which Lasseter and Catmull were personally present. Lee recalled that it was the moment when they realized they "had something, because the reaction was huge." Catmull, who had instructed Lee at the outset to "earn the ending," told her afterwards, "you did it".
Similar to Tangled, Frozen employed a unique artistic style by blending features of both computer-generated imagery (CGI) and traditional hand-drawn animation together. From the beginning, Buck knew Giaimo was the best candidate to develop the style he had in mind, which would draw from the best Disney hand-drawn classics of the 1950s, and persuaded him to come back to Disney to serve as the film's art director.:33 Buck, Lasseter, and Giaimo were all old friends who had attended CalArts together.:33
To create the film's look, Giaimo began pre-production research by reading extensively about the entire region of Scandinavia and visiting the Danish-themed city of Solvang near Los Angeles, but eventually zeroed in on Norway in particular because "80 percent" of the visuals that appealed to him were from Norway. Disney eventually sponsored three research field trips. Animators and special effects specialists were dispatched to Jackson Hole, Wyoming to experience walking, running, and falling in deep snow in a variety of types of attire, including long skirts (which both female and male personnel tried on); while lighting and arts teams visited an Ice Hotel in Quebec City, Quebec to study how light reflects and refracts on snow and ice. Finally, Giaimo and several artists traveled to Norway to draw inspiration from its mountains, fjords, architecture, and culture. "We had a very short time schedule for this film, so our main focus was really to get the story right but we knew that John Lasseter is keen on truth in the material and creating a believable world, and again that doesn't mean it's a realistic world – but a believable one. It was important to see the scope and scale of Norway, and important for our animators to know what it's like," Del Vecho said. "There is a real feeling of Lawrence of Arabia scope and scale to this," he finished.
During 2012, while Giaimo and the animators and artists conducted preparatory research and developed the film's overall look, the production team was still trying to develop a compelling script, as noted above. That problem was not fully solved until November 2012.:155 As a result, the single "most daunting" challenge facing the animation team was a short schedule of less than 12 months to turn Lee's shooting script into an actual film.:155 Of course, other films like Toy Story 2 had been successfully completed on even shorter schedules, but a short schedule necessarily meant "late nights, overtime, and stress.":155 Lee estimated the total size of the entire team on Frozen to be around 600 to 650 people, "including around 70 lighting people[,] 70-plus animators," and 15 to 20 storyboard artists.
Del Vecho explained how the film's animation team was organized: "On this movie we do have character leads, supervising animators on specific characters. The animators themselves may work on multiple characters but it's always under one lead. I think it was different on Tangled, for example, but we chose to do it this way as we wanted one person to fully understand and develop their own character and then be able to impart that to the crew. Hyrum Osmond, the animator on Olaf, is quiet but he has a funny, wacky personality so we knew he'd bring a lot of comedy to it; Anna's animator, Becky Bresee, it's her first time leading a character and we wanted her to lead Anna." Acting coach Warner Loughlin was brought in to help the film's animators understand the characters they were creating. In order to get the general feeling of each scene, some animators did their own acting. "I actually film myself acting the scene out, which I find very helpful," said animation supervisor Rebecca Wilson Bresee. This helped her discover elements that made the scene feel real and believable. Elsa's supervising animator was Wayne Unten, who asked for that role because he was fascinated by the complexity of the character. Unten carefully developed Elsa's facial expressions in order to bring out her fear as contrasted against Anna's fearlessness. He also studied video from Menzel's recording sessions and animated Elsa's breathing to match Menzel's breathing.
Regarding the look and nature of the film's cinematography, Giaimo was greatly influenced by Jack Cardiff's work in Black Narcissus. According to him, it lent a hyper-reality to the film: "Because this is a movie with such scale and we have the Norwegian fjords to draw from, I really wanted to explore the depth. From a design perspective, since I was stressing the horizontal and vertical aspects, and what the fjords provide, it was perfect. We encased the sibling story in scale." Ted D. McCord's work in The Sound of Music was another major influence for Giaimo. It was also Giaimo's idea that Frozen should be filmed in the CinemaScope aspect ratio, which was approved by Lasseter. Giaimo also wanted to ensure that Norway's fjords, architecture and rosemaling folk art, were critical factors in designing the environment of Arendelle. Giaimo, whose background is in traditional animation, said that the art design environment represents a unity of character and environment and that he originally wanted to incorporate saturated colors, which is typically ill-advised in computer animation. For further authenticity, a live reindeer was brought into the studio for animators to study its movements and mannerisms for the character Sven.
Another important issue Giaimo insisted on addressing was costumes, in that he "knew from the start" it would be a "costume film.":77 To realize that vision, he brought in character designer Jean Gillmore to act as a dedicated "costume designer". While traditional animation simply integrates costume design with character design and treats clothing as merely part of the characters, computer-generated animation regards costume as almost a separate entity with its own properties and behaviors—and Frozen required a level of as-yet untried detail, down to minutia like fabrics, buttons, trim, and stitching.:76 Gillmore explained that her "general approach was to meld the historic silhouettes of 1840 Western Europe (give or take), with the shapes and garment relationships and details of folk costume in early Norway, circa 19th century." This meant using primarily wool fabric with accents of velvet, linen, and silk.:75 During production, Giaimo and Gillmore "ran around" supplying various departments with real-world samples to use as references; they were able to draw upon both the studio's own in-house library of fabric samples as well as the resources of Disney Parks' costume division in Fullerton, California. The film's "look development artists" (the Disney job title for texture artists) created the digitally painted simulation of the appearance of surfaces, while other departments dealt with movement, rigging and weight, thickness and lighting of textile animation.
During production, the film's English title was changed from The Snow Queen to Frozen, a decision that drew comparisons to another Disney film, Tangled. Peter Del Vecho explained that "the title Frozen came up independently of the title Tangled. It's because, to us, it represents the movie. Frozen plays on the level of ice and snow but also the frozen relationship, the frozen heart that has to be thawed. We don't think of comparisons between Tangled and Frozen, though." He also mentioned that the film will still retain its original title, The Snow Queen, in some countries: "because that just resonated stronger in some countries than Frozen. Maybe there's a richness to The Snow Queen in the country's heritage and they just wanted to emphasize that."
The studio also developed several new tools to generate realistic and believable shots, particularly the heavy and deep snow and its interactions with the characters. Disney wanted an "all-encompassing" and organic tool to provide snow effects but not require switching between different methods. As noted above, several Disney artists and special effects personnel traveled to Wyoming to experience walking through deep snow. Dr. Kenneth Libbrecht, a professor from the California Institute of Technology, was invited to give lectures to the effects group on how snow and ice form, and why snowflakes are unique. Using this knowledge, the effects group created a snowflake generator that allowed them to randomly create 2,000 unique snowflake shapes for the film.
Another challenge that the studio had to face was to deliver shots of heavy and deep snow that both interacted believably with characters and had a realistic sticky quality. According to principal software engineer Andrew Selle, "[Snow]'s not really a fluid. It’s not really a solid. It breaks apart. It can be compressed into snowballs. All of these different effects are very difficult to capture simultaneously." In order to achieve this, software engineers used advanced mathematics (the Material Point Method) and physics, with assistance from mathematics researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles to create a snow simulator software application called Matterhorn. The tool was capable of depicting realistic snow in a virtual environment and was used in at least 43 scenes in the film, including several key sequences. Software engineer Alexey Stomakhin referred to snow as "an important character in the film," therefore it attracted special attention from the filmmakers. "When you stretch it, snow will break into chunks. Since snow doesn't have any connections, it doesn't have a mesh, it can break very easily. So that was an important property we took advantage of," explained Selle. "There you see [Kristoff] walking through and see his footprints breaking the snow into little pieces and chunk up and you see [Anna] being pulled out and the snow having packed together and broken into pieces. It's very organic how that happens. You don't see that they're pieces already – you see the snow as one thing and then breaking up." The tool also proved to be particularly useful in scenes involving characters walking through deep snow, as it ensured that the snow reacted naturally to each step.
Other tools designed to help artists complete complicated effects included Spaces, which allowed Olaf's deconstructible parts to be moved around and rebuilt, Flourish, which aided extra movement such as leaves and twigs to be art-directed; Snow Batcher, which helped preview the final look of the snow, especially when characters were interacting with an area of snow by walking through a volume, and Tonic, which enabled artists to sculpt their characters' hair as procedural volumes. Tonic also aided in animating fur and hair elements such as Elsa's hair, which contains 420,000 computer-generated threads, while the average number for a real human being is only 100,000. The number of character rigs in Frozen is 312 and the number of simulated costumes also reached 245 cloth rigs, which were far beyond all other Disney films to date. Fifty effects artists and lighting artists worked together on the technology to create "one single shot" in which Elsa builds her ice palace. Its complexity required 30 hours to render each frame, with 4,000 computers rendering one frame at a time.
Besides 3D effects, the filmmakers also used 2D artworks and drawings for specific elements and sequences in the film, including Elsa's magic and snow sculptures, as well as freezing fountains and floors. The effects group created a "capture stage" where the entire world of Frozen gets displayed on monitors, which can be "filmed" on special cameras to operate a three-dimensional scene. "We can take this virtual set that's mimicking all of my actions and put it into any one of our scenes in the film," said technology manager Evan Goldberg.
The setting was principally based on Norway, and the cultural influences in the film come from Scandinavian culture. Several landmarks in Norway appear in the film, including the Akershus Fortress in Oslo, the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, and Bryggen in Bergen. Numerous other typical cultural Scandinavian elements are also included in the film, such as stave churches, trolls, Viking ships, Fjord horses, clothes, and food such as lutefisk. A maypole is also present in the film, as well as the brief appearance of runes in a book that the King opens to figure out where the trolls live. The film also contains several elements specifically drawn from the Sámi culture, such as the usage of reindeer for transportation and the equipment used to control these, clothing styles (the outfits of the ice cutters), and parts of the musical score. Decorations, such as those on the castle pillars and Kristoff's sled, are also in styles inspired by Sámi duodji decorations. During their field work in Norway, Disney's team, for inspiration, visited Rørosrein, a Sámi family-owned company in the village Plassje that produces reindeer meat and arranges tourist events. Arendelle was inspired by Nærøyfjord, a branch of Norway's longest fjord Sognefjorden, which has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; while a castle in Oslo with beautiful hand-painted patterns on all four walls served as the inspiration for the kingdom's royal castle interior.
The filmmakers' trip to Norway provided essential knowledge for the animators to come up with the design aesthetic for the film in terms of color, light, and atmosphere. According to Giaimo, there were three important factors that they had acquired from this research trip: the fjords, which are the massive vertical rock formations, and serve as the setting for the secluded kingdom of Arendelle; the medieval stave churches, whose rustic triangular rooflines and shingles inspired the castle compound; and the rosemaling folk art, whose distinctive paneling and grid patterns informed the architecture, decor, and costumes.
The songs for Frozen were written and composed by the husband-and-wife songwriting team of Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez, both of whom had previously worked with Disney Animation on Winnie the Pooh (2011) and before that, with Disney Parks on Finding Nemo-The Musical (2007). Because they live in New York City, collaborating closely with the production team in Burbank required two-hour-long transcontinental videoconferences nearly every weekday for about 14 months. For each song they composed, they recorded a demo in their home studio, then emailed it to Burbank for discussion at the next videoconference. Lopez and Anderson-Lopez were aware of the fact that their work would be compared to that of Alan Menken and Howard Ashman from the Disney Renaissance era, and whenever they felt lost, they asked "What would Ashman do?" In the end, they wrote 25 songs for the film, of which eight made it into the final version. One song ("For The First Time In Forever") had a reprise and the other ("Let It Go") was covered by Demi Lovato over the final credits, for a total of ten songs. Seven of the 17 that didn't make it were later released on the deluxe edition soundtrack.
Lopez and Anderson-Lopez's "Let It Go" and "In Summer" were previewed at the 2013 D23 Expo; Idina Menzel performed the former. In February 2013, Christophe Beck was hired to score the film, following his work on Paperman, a Disney animated short film released the year prior to Frozen. Kristen Bell also confirmed that there would be a duet between her and Menzel. It was also revealed on September 14, 2013, that Sámi musician Frode Fjellheim's Eatnemen Vuelie would be the film's opening song, as it contains elements of the traditional Sámi singing style joik. The songs by Lopez and Anderson-Lopez were arranged and orchestrated by Dave Metzger, who also orchestrated a significant portion of Beck's score.
For the orchestral film score, Beck paid homage to the Norway- and Sápmi-inspired setting by employing regional instruments, such as the bukkehorn, and traditional vocal techniques, such as kulning. The music producers recruited a Norwegian linguist to assist with the lyrics for an Old Norse song written for Elsa's coronation, and traveled to Trondheim, Norway to record the all-female choir Cantus, for a piece inspired by traditional Sámi music. The score was recorded by an 80-piece orchestra, featuring 32 vocalists, including native Norwegian Christine Hals. Beck worked with Lopez and Anderson-Lopez on incorporating their songs into arrangements in the score. The trio's goal "was to create a cohesive musical journey from beginning to end."
Regarding the sound of Frozen, director Jennifer Lee stated that sound played a huge part in making the film "visceral" and "transported"; she explained, "[i]n letting it tell the story emotionally, the sound of the ice when it's at its most dangerous just makes you shudder." The complete silence at the climax of the film right after Anna freezes was Lasseter's idea, one he "really wanted". In that scene, even the ambient sound that would normally be there was taken out in order to make it feel unusual. Lee explained "that was a moment where we wanted everything to feel suspended." Additionally, in order to obtain the various ice and snow-related sounds heard throughout the film, sound designer Odin Benitez traveled to Mammoth Mountain, California to record them at a frozen lake.
Like other Disney media products which are often localized through Disney Character Voices International, Frozen was translated and dubbed into 41 languages (compared with only 15 for The Lion King). A major challenge was to find sopranos capable of matching Menzel's warm vocal tone and three-octave vocal range in their native languages. Rick Dempsey, the unit's senior executive, regarded the process of translating the film as "exceptionally challenging"; he explained, "It's a difficult juggling act to get the right intent of the lyrics and also have it match rhythmically to the music. And then you have to go back and adjust for lip sync! [It]...requires a lot of patience and precision." For the casting of dubbed versions, Disney required native speakers in order to "ensure that the film feels 'local'." They used Bell and Menzel's voices as their "blueprint" in casting, and tried to match the voices "as much as possible", meaning that they auditioned approximately 200 singers to fill the 41 slots. For nearly 15 dubbed versions, they cast Elsa's singing and speaking parts separately, since not all vocalists could act the part they were singing.
Frozen was released theatrically in the United States on November 27, 2013, and it was accompanied by the new Mickey Mouse animated short film, Get a Horse! The film's premiere was at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California on November 19, 2013, and had a five-day limited release there, starting from November 22, before going into wide opening.
Prior to the film's release, a teaser trailer had been released on June 18, 2013, followed by the release of the official trailer on September 26, 2013. Frozen was also promoted heavily at several Disney theme parks including Disneyland's Fantasyland, Disney California Adventure's World of Color, Epcot's Norway pavilion, and Disneyland Paris' Disney Dreams! show, with meet-and-greet sessions involving the film's two main characters, Anna and Elsa. On November 6, 2013, Disney Consumer Products began releasing a line of toys and other merchandise relating to the film in Disney Store and other retailers.
On January 31, 2014, a sing-along issue of Frozen was released in 2,057 theaters in the United States. This version featured on-screen lyrics, and viewers were invited to follow the bouncing snowflake and sing along with the songs from the film.
Frozen was released for digital download on February 25, 2014, on Google Play, iTunes, and Amazon. It was also released by Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on March 18, 2014. Bonus features for the Blu-ray release include "The Making of Frozen", a three-minute musical production about how the film was made, an inside look at how Disney tried to adapt the original fairy tale into an animated feature, four deleted scenes with introduction by the directors, the original theatrical short Get a Horse!, the film's teaser trailer, and "Let It Go" music videos by Demi Lovato, Martina Stoessel, and Marsha Milan Londoh.
On its first day of release on Blu-ray and DVD, Frozen sold 3.2 million units, becoming one of the biggest home video sellers in the last decade, as well as Amazon's best-selling children's disc of all time. The digital download release of the film also set a record as the fastest-selling digital release of all time.
A video game titled Frozen: Olaf's Quest was released on November 19, 2013, for Nintendo DS and Nintendo 3DS. Developed by 1st Playable Productions and published by GameMill Entertainment, it takes place after the events of the film. In the game, Olaf must use his unique snowman abilities to try and stay in one piece throughout 60 levels. Anna and Elsa were released as figurines in the Frozen toy box pack for the toy-based video game Disney Infinity on November 26, 2013, and both figures were released separately on March 11, 2014. Additionally, Disney Mobile released a match-three game titled Frozen: Free Fall for iOS, Android, and Windows Phone platforms. It takes place in the kingdom of Arendelle and closely follows the original story of the film, in which players can team up with Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Hans, Olaf, Pabbie and Sven to match puzzles with the help of each character's special power-ups. Six mini-games can be played on the Disney website.
Frozen has earned $398,938,890 in North America as of April 7, 2014, and $698,400,000 in other countries as of April 6, for a worldwide total of $1,097,338,890. It is the ninth highest-grossing film, the highest-grossing animated film, the second highest-grossing 2013 film, the highest-grossing Walt Disney Pictures release, and the third highest-grossing film distributed by Disney. The film earned $110.6 million worldwide in its opening weekend. On March 2, 2014, its 101st day of release, it surpassed the $1 billion mark, becoming the eighteenth film in cinematic history, the seventh Disney-distributed film, the fifth non-sequel film, the second Disney-distributed film in 2013 (after Iron Man 3), and the second animated film (after Toy Story 3) to do so.
Bloomberg Businessweek magazine reported in March 2014 that outside analysts had projected the film's total cost at somewhere around $323 million to $350 million for production, marketing, and distribution, and had also projected that the film would generate $1.3 billion in revenue from box office ticket sales, digital downloads, discs, and television rights.
Frozen became Fandango's top advance ticket seller among original animated films, ahead of previous record-holder Brave, and became the top-selling animated film in the company's history in late January 2014. The sing-along version of the film later topped the best-selling list of the movie ticketing service again for three days. Frozen opened on Friday, November 22, 2013, exclusively at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood for a five-day limited release and earned $342,839 before its wide opening on Wednesday, November 27, 2013. During the three-day weekend it earned $243,390, scoring the seventh largest per-theater average. On the opening day of its wide release, the film earned $15.2 million (including $800,000 from Tuesday previews) and set a record for the highest pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday opening, ahead of Tangled ($11.9 million). It was also the second largest pre-Thanksgiving Wednesday among all films, behind Catching Fire ($20.8 million). The film finished in second place over the traditional three-day weekend (Friday-to-Sunday) with $67.4 million, setting an opening weekend record among Walt Disney Animation Studios films. It also scored the second largest opening weekend among films that did not debut at #1. Among films that opened during Thanksgiving, it set new records; three-day ($67.4 million from Friday to Sunday) and five-day ($93.6 million from Wednesday to Sunday). It also achieved the second largest three-day and five-day Thanksgiving gross among all films, behind Catching Fire. During its second weekend of wide release, Frozen declined 53% to $31.6 million, but jumped to first place, setting a record for the largest post-Thanksgiving weekend, ahead of Toy Story 2 ($27.8 million). Frozen became the first film since Avatar to reach first place in its sixth weekend of wide release. It remained in the top 10 at the box office for sixteen consecutive weekends (the longest run by any film since 2002) and achieved large weekend grosses from its fifth to its twelfth weekend (of wide release), compared to other films in their respective weekends.
In North America, Frozen is the nineteenth highest-grossing film, the third highest-grossing 2013 film, the fourth highest-grossing animated film, the highest-grossing 2013 animated film, the fifth highest-grossing 3-D film, and the second highest-grossing Walt Disney Animation Studios film. Excluding re-releases, it has the highest-grossing initial run among non-sequel animated films (a record previously held by Finding Nemo) and among Walt Disney Animation Studios films (a record previously held by The Lion King).
Frozen is the twelfth highest-grossing film, the second highest-grossing animated film, the second highest-grossing 2013 film, the highest-grossing non-sequel animated film, and the highest-grossing Walt Disney Animation Studios film. It is the highest-grossing animated film of all time in South Korea, Denmark, and Venezuela. It is also the highest-grossing Walt Disney Animation Studios film in at least 50 territories, including the Latin America region (specifically in Mexico and Brazil), the UK, Ireland, and Malta, Russia and the CIS, Ukraine, Norway, Malaysia, Singapore, Australia and China.
The film made its debut outside North America on the same weekend as its wide North American release and earned $16.7 million from sixteen markets. It topped the box office outside North America for two weekends in 2014; January 10–12 ($27.8 million) and February 7–9 ($24 million). Overall, its largest opening weekends occurred in China (five-day opening of $14.1 million), Russia and the CIS ($11.9 million, including previews from previous weekend), where the film set an opening weekend record among Disney animated films (ahead of Tangled), and Japan (three-day opening of $9.73 million). It set an opening weekend record among animated films in Sweden. In South Korea, the film's highest-grossing country ($77.1 million) outside North America, Frozen is the second largest foreign film both in terms of attendance and gross, the largest Disney release in the market, and the first animated film to earn more than ten million admissions. Following South Korea in terms of total earnings are the United Kingdom, Ireland and Malta ($64.8 million) and Japan ($51.6 million).
Frozen received widespread critical acclaim, with several critics comparing the film favorably to the films of the Disney Renaissance, particularly The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. The film was praised for its visuals, themes, musical numbers, screenplay, and voice acting, especially of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, and Josh Gad. The "Let It Go" musical sequence was repeatedly singled out for praise; some critics called it one of the best film sequences of the year. The review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes reports that 89% of critics gave the film a positive review based on 181 reviews, with an average score of 7.8/10, making it the highest-rated family film in 2013. The site's consensus reads: "Beautifully animated, smartly written, and stocked with singalong songs, Frozen adds another worthy entry to the Disney canon." Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 74 based on 43 reviews, indicating "generally favorable reviews." CinemaScore gave Frozen an "A+" on an A+ to F scale, based on polls conducted during the opening weekend. Surveys conducted by Fandango among 1,000 ticket buyers showed that 75% of purchasers had seen the film at least once, and 52% had seen it twice. It was also pointed out that 55% of audiences identified "Let It Go" as their favorite song, while "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" and "For the First Time in Forever" held proportions of 21% and 9%, respectively. Frozen was named the seventh best film of 2013 by Richard Corliss of Time and Kyle Smith of The New York Post.
Alonso Duralde of The Wrap wrote that film is "the best animated musical to come out of Disney since the tragic death of lyricist Howard Ashman, whose work on The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast helped build the studio's modern animated division into what it is today." He also said that "while it lags the tiniest bit on its way to the conclusion, the script... really delivers; it offers characters to care about, along with some nifty twists and surprises along the way." Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter observed Frozen as a true musical and wrote, "You can practically see the Broadway musical Frozen is destined to become while watching Disney's 3D animated princess tale." McCarthy described the film as "energetic, humorous and not too cloying, as well as the first Hollywood film in many years to warn of global cooling rather than warming, this tuneful toon upgrades what has been a lackluster year for big studio animated fare and, beginning with its Thanksgiving opening, should live up to box office expectations as one of the studio's hoped-for holiday-spanning blockbusters." Kyle Smith of the New York Post awarded the film 3.5 out of 4 stars and praised the film as "a great big snowy pleasure with an emotionally gripping core, brilliant Broadway-style songs and a crafty plot. Its first and third acts are better than the jokey middle, but this is the rare example of a Walt Disney Animation Studios effort that reaches as deep as a Pixar film." Scott Mendelson of Forbes wrote, "Frozen is both a declaration of Disney's renewed cultural relevance and a reaffirmation of Disney coming to terms with its own legacy and its own identity. It's also a just plain terrific bit of family entertainment."
The Los Angeles Times extolled the film's ensemble voice talent and elaborate musical sequences, and declared Frozen as "a welcome return to greatness for Walt Disney Animation Studios." Entertainment Weekly's Owen Gleiberman gave the film a "B+" grade and labeled it as a "squarely enchanting fairy tale that shows you how the definition of what's fresh in animation can shift." Richard Corliss of Time stated that, "It's great to see Disney returning to its roots and blooming anew: creating superior musical entertainment that draws on the Walt tradition of animation splendor and the verve of Broadway present." Richard Roeper wrote that the film was an "absolute delight from start to finish." Both Michael Phillips of Chicago Tribune and Stephen Holden of The New York Times praised the film's characters and musical sequences, which also drew comparisons to the theatrics found in Wicked. Emma Dibdin of Digital Spy awarded the film five out of five stars and called the film "a new Disney classic" and "an exhilarating, joyous, human story that's as frequently laugh-out-loud funny as it is startling and daring and poignant. Hot on the heels of the 90th anniversary, it's impossible to imagine a more perfect celebration of everything Disney is at its best." Frozen was also praised in Norwegian Sámi media as showcasing Sámi culture (which historically has faced attempted eradication by the Norwegian state) to a broad audience in a good way. Composer Frode Fjellheim was lauded by Norwegian Sámi President Aili Keskitalo for his contributions to the film, during the President's 2014 New Year's speech.
However, the film was not without its detractors. Scott Foundas of Variety, was less impressed with the film, but nevertheless commended the film's voice acting and technical artistry: "The tactile, snow-capped Arendelle landscape, including Elsa's ice-castle retreat is Frozen's other true marvel, enhanced by 3D and the decision to shoot in widescreen – a nod to the CinemaScope richness of Sleeping Beauty and Lady and the Tramp." The Seattle Times gave the film two out of four stars, stating that "While it is an often gorgeous film with computer-generated fjords and ice sculptures and castle interiors, the important thing that glues all this stuff together – story – is sadly lacking." Joe Williams of St. Louis Post-Dispatch also criticized the story as the film's weakest point. Writing on Roger Ebert's website, Christy Lemire gave a mixed review in which she awarded two-and-a-half stars out of four. Lemire praised the visuals and the performance of "Let It Go", as well as the positive messages Frozen sends. However, she referred to the film as "cynical" and criticized it as an "attempt to shake things up without shaking them up too much." She also noted the similarity between Elsa and another well-known fictional female who unleashes paranormal powers when agitated, Carrie.
|“||Historically speaking, animating female characters are really, really difficult, because they have to go through these range of emotions, but you have to keep them pretty and they're very sensitive too—you can get them off a model very quickly. So, having a film with two hero female characters was really tough, and having them both in the scene and look very different if they're echoing the same expression; that Elsa looking angry looks different from Anna being angry.||”|
Some media commentators took this to mean that a difficulty exists due to a limited range of facial variation for recent Disney female animated characters because of the need to keep them "pretty." A Disney spokesperson told Time that DiSalvo's quote was widely misinterpreted stating that he was "describing some technical aspects of CG animation and not making a general comment on animating females versus males or other characters." Director Jennifer Lee also expressed her sadness towards the case, explaining that his words were recklessly taken out of context, and that he was talking in very technical terms about CG animation. "It is hard no matter what the gender is. I felt horrible for him. He was so proud what achieved in the movie. We never had such sophisticated rigs (the skeletal structure of the figures used to model characters on a computer) to show awkwardness and grief on a face. I'm so proud of them." she stated.
Frozen was nominated for various awards and won a number of them, including several for Best Animated Feature. The song "Let It Go" was particularly praised. The film was nominated for two Golden Globes at the 71st Golden Globe Awards and won for Best Animated Feature, becoming the first Walt Disney Animation Studios film to win in this category. It also won two Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song ("Let It Go"), the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film at the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), five Annie Awards (including Best Animated Feature), and two Critics' Choice Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song ("Let It Go"). It received other similar nominations at the Satellite Awards, and various critics' groups and circles.
Bob Iger, chairman and chief executive officer of The Walt Disney Company, stated in a January 2014 interview with Fortune that Disney Theatrical Productions is in early development of a Broadway stage musical adaptation of Frozen. No specific date has yet been set for this adaptation. "We're not demanding speed," Iger said. "We're demanding excellence." A microsite for the stage adaptation has been launched by Disney, where users can sign up to receive email updates on the musical.
During The Walt Disney Company 2014 first-quarter earnings conference call on February 5, 2014, Iger congratulated "all those involved with Frozen" and reiterated that it would "be going to Broadway.":4 He also noted that Frozen "has real franchise potential" and predicted that "You will see Frozen in more places than you've certainly seen today.":8,13
In the same earnings call, Iger alluded to "high demand for Frozen merchandise," which was expanded upon by Disney senior executive vice president and chief financial officer Jay Rasulo: "Over the most recent quarter... if I had to pick out a single item, I would say Frozen items were the single most demanded items at Disney Stores." :4,22 By March 2014, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that Disney had sold almost 500,000 Anna and Elsa dolls, with a 5,000 limited-edition run selling out online in only 45 minutes in January. Chris Buck mentioned in an April 2014 interview that the directors hadn't bought anything for themselves "thinking it wouldn't be a problem, and now everything's sold out!" Their internal request for Frozen products was met with "working on it."
Meanwhile, the meet-and-greets with Anna and Elsa at Disneyland and Epcot were intended to be short-term temporary attractions to promote the film, but in February 2014, Disney Parks decided to extend them indefinitely in response to unprecedented demand. By the start of March, wait time was reportedly as long as four or five hours to see Anna and Elsa, which fueled outside speculation about whether Disney Parks would respond with additional Frozen-specific attractions.
At the end of March 2014, Del Vecho confirmed that there had been "discussions on how we can support the [film's] characters at other locations [and] [w]e are also discussing making a theatrical [musical] version of Frozen, but these things take time." As for the possibility of future sequels, Del Vecho explained that Buck, Lee and him "work very, very well together, so I believe we will be developing a new project. But I don't know what that is right now."
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|Academy Award for Best Original Song|
"Let It Go"