What Made "Frozen 2" A Success
Wed, April 14, 2021

What Made "Frozen 2" A Success

The Oscar-winning animated musical was so well-loved to the tune of more than $1 billion at the box office that a sequel was all but assured. And so this year, fans finally got what they were pining for, “Frozen 2” / Photo by: Sarunyu L via Shutterstock

 

Even after six years since the first “Frozen” was first released, fans just couldn't let it go. It wasn't surprising, though, since it came at the right time in terms of the season and delivered a powerful story exploring sisterhood and what it means to accept yourself.

The Oscar-winning animated musical was so well-loved to the tune of more than $1 billion at the box office that a sequel was all but assured. And so this year, fans finally got what they were pining for, “Frozen 2.” After restoring their bond with each other, Arendelle's ruling sisters Anna and Elsa "go where few fairy tales have gone before: into adulthood," entertainment news source The Hollywood Reporter (THR) says.

But that leap into the unknown isn't the only thing that has made the sequel a success.

 

Point of View of Change

Taking the unusual path of adulthood was driven by Disney's desire to look into change and maturity as life passes, writer and chief creative Jennifer Lee said, noting that they "didn't want to stay in the same place and repeat ourselves.

"It's an evolution with the characters and thematically looking at love and fear and family from the point of view of change," Lee told THR.

The most exciting thing about "Frozen 2," according to Lee, was telling the story of "a woman who has to learn to listen to her gut and find where she belongs in the world," after a mysterious voice calls out to her. As Elsa and Anna—along with Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf—make their journey to understand why the Queen of Arendelle has powers, the film shows how the sisters stick by each others' side no matter what. Yet, the challenges they face become increasingly difficult, leading to moments that put them in a dilemma: protect or let go?

This dilemma was parallel to the growing pains of the film's production in 2018 when chief creative officer John Lasseter stepped down due to allegations of misconduct. THR reports that Lee was promoted soon after Lasseter's exit but still worked on "Frozen 2."

"It was a struggle a little with my schedule," the now-chief creative said. "But as a studio, we all rally together on films in production anyway. I was writing [script revisions] early in the morning, and we just stayed very connected."

Helping the Narrative to Grow

The beginning of the story conceived the idea of Elsa being connected with the elements of nature. However, this connection was not immediate with the narrative allowing the idea to grow on its own. But it wasn't the only thing that helped alter Elsa's transformation: it was also in the design.

Production designer Michael Giaimo came up with the idea of depicting and describing the four elements—earth, fire, wind, and water—in the form of elemental spirits.

"It wasn’t a given at the beginning that they would be exemplified by living creatures," he told IndieWire, a film news and review website. "But it all evolved. And I would say the art department played a major role in helping to develop that elemental narrative."

His idea, however, had to be put on hold until Lee and co-director Chris Buck figured out how to best fit the spirit into the story. Months later, a discussion about a shawl worn by Queen Iduna (Elsa and Anna's mother) helped connect Giaimo's idea with the narrative.

"Iduna is so connected to nature with the Northuldra tribe of the Enchanted Forest," the production designer said. "I said to the directors that designing a symbol of the elements could be used on that shawl and could somehow be leveraged later on. The directors were open to it."

He added that it was an exciting time for their department since they don't always have the opportunity to lead, even for a bit, the narrative theme. The art department usually takes the narrative and does the best they can to support it. But with "Frozen 2," the production team came up with the inspiration to further create characters for the four elements.

"She not only plussed it, she made it resonate as something much bigger than our initial graphic thought," Giaimo said.

It’s in the Team

These factors—the bold move into an untraveled path coupled with designs that grew the narrative—was only among the many reasons why "Frozen 2" was such as success. On the other hand, that success was inevitable since the first installment was so well-loved that people couldn't let it go.

But the truth is, it all came down to the people who made the first film to happen. According to CinemaBlend, a news source for entertainment, the staff that worked on "Frozen" all came back to make the sequel, from the voice actors to the director and even the songwriters.

With the team back together, it's not surprising to see the characters written as they were before: vulnerable yet powerful, a trait that greatly reflects on the audience—especially the young ones.

"They feel so vulnerable because they're often the smallest person in the room," Kristen Bell, who voiced Anna in the movies, said. "They're slower than everyone else. They don't know anything. And yet they have a spirit of growth and they feel their own power."

So the team took that vulnerability and put it on full display in "Frozen 2," CinemaBlend says.

The rest, as they say, is pure movie magic. And now, “Frozen 2” is poised to take over as the highest-grossing animated movie of all time—a title that was once worn by, you guessed it right, “Frozen.”

These factors—the bold move into an untraveled path coupled with designs that grew the narrative—was only among the many reasons why "Frozen 2" was such as success / Photo by: Faiz Zaki via Shutterstock