“Frozen” is as hot as ever for Disney, so don’t expect them to let it go anytime soon.
The Oscar-winning animated film topped out at $400 million domestic and $1.274 billion worldwide at the box office earlier this year, making it one of the company’s all-time biggest smash hits. The story of the sister princesses in the icy kingdom of Arendelle was an unexpected smash for Burbank-based Disney, which spent the summer plotting out how to keep the snowball rolling.
The answer has been in activating the company’s many branches, making “Frozen” the perfect case of corporate synergy at the House of Mouse, which is now working to build on the huge base provided by the theatrical success.
“[‘Frozen’] is definitely up there in terms of our top, probably, five franchises,” Disney CEO Robert Iger told analysts in May. “So you can expect us to take full advantage of that over the next five years, I would guess.”
So far, so good. For example, on Tuesday night, the Disney-owned ABC Network will air a behind-the-scenes special about the making of “Frozen,” which helps serve several purposes: It will hype up the addition of live action versions of the “Frozen” characters to the network’s fantasy drama “Once Upon a Time”; grab lots of eyeballs for a preview of the next animated Disney film, “Big Hero 6”; and stoke excitement for the sing-along version of “Frozen,” which will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in November.
The new home video release will be a way to leverage “Frozen” in a sector it has already dominated; since it hit shelves in March (when the movie was still in theaters), the DVD/Blu-ray had taken in $252 million in receipts by the end of June in the US alone; it is the biggest selling Blu-ray of all time, as well as Amazon’s best-selling kids movie of all time.
The soundtrack — featuring the ubiquitous “Let It Go” — ranked in the top five on the Billboard 200 chart for 33 straight weeks, including 13 nonconsecutive weeks at number one. It is certified triple platinum, with 3.2 million units moved in the US alone. And, like with the new version of the DVD/Blu-ray coming, Disney will release four new versions of the soundtrack, including “Frozen: The Songs” featuring all 10 songs from the film; a vinyl edition of that version; and a Spanish edition called “Frozen Canciones De Una Aventura Congelada.”
Oh, Disney publishes, too, and they have released an astounding 511 different “Frozen” books already. The “Frozen” junior novel spent 34 weeks on the New York Times’ Best Seller list; 21 “Frozen” books were in the top 100 best selling children’s books of the summer; and the “Storybook Deluxe” has been a top ten paid app since it debuted in November of 2013.
Other merchandise, meanwhile, quickly became a problem for Disney in the best way possible: The demand for “Frozen” toys and clothing was much higher than they had anticipated, leading to customers sleeping outside the stores and driving great distances for any product featuring Elsa, Anna, and Olaf. By May, the company had placed a limit of two “Frozen” items per customer, and decided to sell certain items — like plush toys and dolls — only on Saturdays.
Other items ended up being given to eager customers via a lottery system.
Disney has since doubled down on manufacturing “Frozen” items and designing new ones for the holiday season, making the movie one of its merchandise centerpieces a year after it first hit theaters. It’s estimated that sales of “Frozen” shirts, games, toys, and other items could hit $1 billion in 2014.
Not a small portion of those sales will take place in Disney Parks, which continue to be made over with new “Frozen”-themed attractions.
In Orlando, Epcot’s Norway pavilion has been converted in part to a “Frozen” theme, with a character meet-and-greet and a rumored re-branding of an old ride called the Maelstrom. The characters are also available for hand shaking and photo taking in the Magic Kingdom (where lines stretched for hours); and Hollywood Studios, a third Disney World Park, has an entire entertainment-filled celebration called Frozen Summer Fun that has been extended another month.
For those not at the parks, Disney on Ice is putting on a touring “Frozen” show, which actually launches on Thursday. It will run during the 2014-15 season, at the very least, though it could become a perennial favorite. Eventually, the live performances will be joined by a Broadway musical, though specific plans have yet to be made public.
And if you’d rather just stay home, Disney has added “Frozen” characters to its smash hit (and money-printing) virtual world “Disney Infinity,” which requires gamers to buy small figurines that unlock new characters and adventures. Elsa and Anna are available for $29.95; fans who get hooked thanks to the “Frozen” ladies can expect to spend a lot more on other characters after that.