March 2, 2014

The Aftermath of Frozen: Its Staggering Success and its Imminent Impact, By Nora Stasio, Fairy Tale News Reporter

The Aftermath of Frozen: Its Staggering Success and its Imminent Impact

When I wrote about Disney's Frozen back in September, we didn't have much more then a title, a cast list, and a short synopsis to pique our interests. We could only speculate as to what the final film would be like. So much has happened since then, I felt an update was warranted. There's just so much to say!

It all started on November 27, 2013, when Frozen was released. It nearly set a box-office record for a Pre-Thanksgiving weekend; it's sales were second only to The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, which was released a few days prior. However, Frozen currently holds the record for the highest opening weekend sales for an animated Disney film. It's first 3 days in theaters, the film made over $65 million dollars. 

So it seems not only you and I were curious to see this snowy spectacle; The viewers came out in masses. They must have read the advanced reviews, in which professional critics compared Frozen to Disney classics such as Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King

     By Margaret Tarrant

Sure, as expected, it's almost nothing like Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," but audiences worldwide can agree, it's something special. It's currently Disney's second highest-grossing animated film of all time, falling just behind The Lion King (Pixar films excluded). The film and its music have become so popular that Disney just recently re-released Frozen to theaters as a "sing-a-long" version, wherein all the lyrics play onscreen during the musical numbers. The revenue from this re-release may cause Frozen to surpass The Lion King soon enough. (The Lion King, after all, had several re-releases.)

It doesn't end there. Last month, it was confirmed by Disney that a Broadway musical version of Frozen was in the works. It seems to be only in the conception stage at this point. There is no projected debut date. The producers have made it clear that they'd rather not rush the project and risk compromising it's potential excellence. If properly executed, I could see "Frozen on Broadway" becoming just as successful as the stage version of Beauty and the Beast, which ran for 13 years and was widely acclaimed. 

Frozen has been nominated for 2 Academy Awards: Best Original Feature, and Best Original Song, for the wildly popular "Let it Go." On March 2nd, Idina Menzel will be singing the now iconic ballad live during the Oscars ceremony. Be sure to tune in, if not just for the fabulous Idina! 

So what should we make of all this hullabaloo? What does it mean for the future of fairytales in the media?

Whenever a movie is as successful as this one was, there are always copycats. The worst of them try to rip off certain iconic elements of a famous work while generally lacking the heart and the overall cohesion of the original. Most of these rip-offs are low-budget productions, using gimmicks to increase sales, instead of striving for an excellent product.

What I'm trying to say is, we may begin to see a myriad of new books, dolls, and films with a "snowy princess" theme, strikingly similar to Frozen. And some of them might be terrible - but some might surprise us. Who knows, maybe Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen" will suddenly see a slew of new adaptions. Maybe these will try to stay true to Andersen's original storyline, whereas the Disney film deviated greatly from its inspired source.  

In future media, we may see a surge in friendly sentient snowman characters, queens who can do magic, bubbly red-headed scandinavian heroines, and men who talk to reindeers. 

We may also see a surge in family-friendly animated musical fairytales, snowy or otherwise. Remember way back in the '90s, when films like The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin were making Disney a lot of money? Suddenly there were rival animation studios coming out of the woodwork, many of them attempting to copy that "Disney formula" - making G-rated fairytale films with lots of singing and dancing. Most weren't successful, but there are a few gems that stand out, even to this day, such as Don Bluth's Anastasia and Thumbelina, and Richard Rich's The Swan Princess. I'd even include Dreamworks' The Prince of Egypt, which is, in my opinion, an exceptional film (though not based on a fairytale, per se, it is based on an ancient tale from the Bible). These films probably wouldn't have been made if not for the success of the fairytale musicals of the "Disney Renaissance."

So perhaps history is about to repeat itself? 

For several years now, dark, brooding, and "twisted" adaptations of fairytales have been the prevailing trend in media. I'm wondering if, thanks to Frozen, the tides will begin turning back towards light-hearted, positive tales that the kids can enjoy along with us. I wouldn't be opposed to that, myself. I do enjoy a good musical, and I love animation, so I say, keep them coming! Even the copycats.

But I'd like to hear your opinion! Did you enjoy Frozen? What kind of impact do you think it will have, and does that excite you or scare you? Leave us a comment!

Bio: Nora writes, "I have been a lover of creative writing and fairy tales for basically my entire life! I recently graduated Cum Laude from Rutgers where I completed a minor in English, with a focus in Creative Writing and Shakespeare (I majored in Psychology)."


  1. Glad that you have done a follow-up column. I enjoyed Frozen. Of course I think anything 'fairy-tale'-related is good news because these are the sorts of short stories I love to write and tell. In my experience there will always be an audience for fairy tales, twisted and pure.

  2. I really enjoyed Frozen! I did feel that there were a few elements that could have been added/changed to tighten up the story, but the heart within it was lovely. The beginning, especially, reminded me of Disney's golden age fairy tales with the opening choral number and the wonderfully constructed early-life story of the two princesses that set up the rest of the movie. While I know that Anna was "the main character" (and an excellent one), I was utterly captivated by Elsa! Do others feel the same? Her character arc was fantastic: from being a princess locked away in a castle (though in this case, because SHE might be a danger to the world and not the other way around) to overcoming the darkness (as she saw it) inside of her. Anyway, I could go on -- but I will also be very interested to see the copy-cats and other influences that this movie has on popular culture. Thanks, Nora, for bringing Frozen" back into discussion!

  3. I enjoyed Frozen as a film, and liked the humor and cultural elements. The sister-love focus was nice for a change.

    As a fairy tale, adaptation, however, I feel it missed the mark. (I go into the whys and hows on my blog.) And the songs and character designs were unmemorable, in my opinion. :P

  4. I must be the only person in North America who hasn't watched it yet. I'll have to put it on Netflix. I'm also good for lighter versions of fairy tales (though I am rather fond of Grimm). :)

  5. I thought Frozen was okay. Not great. I liked Tangled more.

    Me and Disney have a little bit of a love-hate relationship. On one hand, Disney movies are probably the best PR you can get for any fairy tale, they also have so much sway over how people view the concept of the "fairy tale" that it's a bit . . . unnerving. Personally, I wonder if anyone went back and actually read "The Snow Queen" for the first time based on seeing Frozen. I'm interested in what gets a book in people's hands more than anything else.

  6. I was skeptical when I heard about Frozen, but I ended up really liking what they did with it story-wise. It seemed like a very appropriate twist on the Snow Queen, the sort of thing we would see here on EC. I also liked Elsa's character arc and the message she was getting--it's not ok to be a powerful woman. Powerful women are dangerous.

    I also have a complicated relationship with Disney. I wish they would stop plugging elements into a formula (1 princess + 1 fairy tale + 1 or more cute/silly/goofy sidekicks + music=Disney's latest Princess movie). I think they could do so much more if they would let the creative people just follow their visions and let each movie be individual.

    I didn't care for Frozen's music and the design could have been more creative. I would love for them to go back to traditional animation (like the first part of Enchanted).

    What Frozen's success means for the future, I don't know. I am more excited by upcoming things that seem inspired and creative, like Boxtrolls.

  7. I wrote the Huffington Post article "Unfrozen: How a Disney Movie Gave My Daughter Hope" about the empowering impact the movie has had on my daughter who struggles with Tourette Syndrome every day. I'm still processing why this movie has had the impact that it has. But it affected me too, so it may take awhile:)