Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Out in the Cold [Update]

Walt Disney Animation Studios' Frozen, their 53rd feature, is opening in theaters this autumn. November 27th, to be exact. Let's see... What we know so far?

It's a musical fairy tale based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, and it's been in the works for a while. Chris Buck, co-director of Tarzan and Surf's Up, is the lead director. The co-director is Wreck-It Ralph scribe Jennifer Lee. Kristin Bell, Idina Menzel and Jonathan Groff will provide voices. We know what the plot is, who the main characters are and who will be doing the score and the songs.

So what do we have so far in terms of marketing materials and stuff like that?

Well got the official logo last year and one piece of concept artwork, in addition to many drawings and sketches. Then we got these rather unappealing character posters which were confirmed to be fake, but the character designs on there are said to be final. In fact, these same poses were used on a German site for Disney... Unless that was a big mistake.

Other than that, no teaser poster, no teaser, no first images or anything. Let's take a trip back to April 2012. What did we know about Disney's Wreck-It Ralph at the time? There was a logo that was revealed as far back as the summer 2011 D23 expo along with a plot description, cast and crew details, an arcade cabinet of the film's Fix-It Felix, Jr. game, lots of concept artwork and near-final images. Folks who attended that D23 expo got to see the first six minutes of the film, some of which was actually animated. That same first six minute portion was also shown at the April 2012 CinemaCon. The film also got its minimalist 8-bit teaser poster in the middle of the month.

Yet Frozen seems to be... Hidden. We've heard very little about it lately. You'd think Disney would've released a teaser poster or image by now, but I don't understand why there is nothing of the sort that's out yet. If I can recall correctly, in early 2010, Tangled's first images were up. The poster didn't arrive till after the teaser debuted in the summer, but still... Why is Disney holding out on us? Is it possible that they just want to market whatever is coming out first? I get that they had to promote Iron Man 3, Monsters University and The Lone Ranger in the first quarter of the year. I get that the last of three especially needed a boatload of marketing... But we could've at least gotten an image or a poster for this film. The teaser trailer is most likely coming in June, since Disney seems to be taking this route lately with their animated films: The teaser for Tangled debuted in June 2010, the film opened in November. Ditto Wreck-It Ralph in 2012. At this year's CinemaCon, nothing was revealed. Nothing. Will they show something at this year's San Diego Comic-Con? Hopefully, but that'll be after the teaser premieres. (That is, if it does come out in June.)

Other than that, there doesn't seem to be as much buzz for this film. The skeptical side of me says it has to do with the recent layoffs at Walt Disney Animation Studios and the marketing staff, maybe the marketing people don't want to plug this one very early on and will wait it out, assuming that it'll do good because it's a Disney animated film and a fairy tale adaptation at that. All I expect is an aggressive marketing campaign after the teaser trailer premieres, much like Tangled and Ralph's campaigns.

However, it could be because Disney was too busy promoting the summer slate. Iron Man 3 was of course going to get a lot of marketing muscle, ditto Monsters University. Both are hugely anticipated films. Then the rest of the effort was going into The Lone Ranger, a risky-as-hell $250 million Western that most likely needs to make over $600 million to break even! It might not even do that with all this marketing behind it! So the lack of promotion for Frozen right now is a bit understandable, but there still could've been some images or something highlighting it at CinemaCon. Disney's been very... Well... Hush-hush about this icy flick.

Which is strange, because in my eyes, this seems like a much easier sell than Wreck-It Ralph. Disney made sure to get the word out on that film very early on, but for this film, it seems like they're holding back. Is it possible that they're assuming it'll be another Tangled-sized success? Perhaps. Do they think that it'll do well by default, regardless of when they start really promoting it? Maybe. But it seems like they're not excited about this project... There should be lots of buzz right now. Now with the teaser and poster for Thor: The Dark World out of the way, it is now time for them to get the ball rolling.

Will we see some form of marketing for Frozen next month? Will we get a poster, a teaser or an image? Or more news on the film's details? Sound off below!

Update: Just as I posted this, some footage was leaked! The video even featured director Chris Buck! There was completed animation along with storyboards, unfinished animation and... Pencil tests! From what was shown in completed form, it looks like what was achieved with Tangled in terms of the look was taken up to eleven. Not only does it looks different from the fake posters, but it looks like a computer animated hand-drawn film... If that makes any sense. Paperman seemed to be a testing ground for this, rather than a later feature. Maybe this style is what Walt Disney Animation Studios will turn to for the future, though it would be nice if they kept the classic style of hand-drawn animation. I will say, I'm very very happy with this style. Traditional and innovative at the same time, just what I expect from Disney. The video was expectedly and quickly taken down by Disney. Does this mean we'll get an official one soon?

William Jardine of A113 Animation managed to get a still from the video... Just look at it!

Beautiful... Just beautiful... I also like what Buck had to say about the story itself. Things like "heart", "intense action" (kind of thought that we were going to get that given some earlier plot details) and something along the lines of a "new level for storytelling for Walt Disney Animation Studios". That little preview really got me excited, so hopefully we'll get an official one or something similar soon!


  1. It gets even better, Disney also did a hand-drawn short film with, wait for it... MICKEY MOUSE!!! And, it's being attached to Frozen. Best of all, it's done in the style of the old black & white Mickey cartoons of the 20's and 30's. That goes to show you Disney still cares about its fans.

    1. Actually, It's a the "undiscovered" cartoon Disney announced called Get A Horse (which is actually a new short made by WDAS that's supposed to look like one of those old black-and-white Mickey shorts).

    2. "Get A Horse!" isn't attached to "Frozen"... Yet. This is something to look forward to, even after the layoffs and such. I'm just glad that Mickey is getting proper treatment now, especially with that new batch of shorts that are coming.

  2. Regardless, I can't wait for Frozen! I hope they market it right!