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Disney Execs Talk ‘Frozen’ Expansion, ‘Star Wars’ Excitement

Company will continue to explore possibilities of hugely lucrative animated film, starting with a seven-minute short film next month

Disney is still hot for “Frozen” — and it has no plans to let it go.

Continually strong sales of merchandise from the animated film played a big part in strong earnings for The Walt Disney Company in the most recent quarter, and the company’s Chairman and CEO Bob Iger and Disney senior executive vice president and CFO Jay Rasulo made it clear that the company has every intention of expanding and exploiting that momentum.

“I don’t think that we can underestimate the impact that ‘Frozen’ has had across our company and all of our businesses,” Rasulo said.  “Do we think ‘Frozen’ has legs? … We absolutely believe that this is the beginning of a long-term franchise.”

The first part of that would be an upcoming seven-minute “Frozen” short film, “Frozen Fever,” which will be released along with Disney’s upcoming live-action “Cinderella” next month.

The short, Iger said, should generate further growth for consumer products buying.

Nonetheless, Rasulo cautioned, Disney’s consumer products division isn’t a one-trick pony, with Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Avengers and other merchandise filling the company’s coffers.

Another big addition to the Disney canon will come when the company reboots the “Star Wars” franchise with the December release of “Star Wars Episode VII — The Force Awakens.” Based on the millions of views that advance footage of the film has received on the internet, Iger predicted that the company would likely see some sales of merchandise ahead of the film. Still, that’s the least of Disney’s hopes for the movie, with Iger saying that the company plans to “greatly increase ‘Star Wars’ presence in multiple locations across the world” in the company’s parks.

Don’t expect anything right away, though.

“The plans are ambitious and so it’s going to take time,” Iger cautioned. Nonetheless, he noted that “we’ll be adding ‘Star Wars’ into that pantheon [of franchises] in a very, very significant way.”

On a less sunny note, Rasulo addressed the fiscally choppy waters of ABC which, despite relatively robust ratings for the network this season, saw lower advertising revenue due to fewer units sold.

Rasulo noted that the lower sales were due to “a number of factors,” including the length of the shows and the way the shows are written. However, he offered, “I think ABC is extremely well positioned this year relative to its peers.”

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