Now before we start, let's push "adjusted for inflation" to the side. (Yes, Lion King sold over 70 million tickets as opposed to to 40 million+ Frozen sold, etc.) I'll look at this from a money-making perspective, since that's all that matters to big bad Disney, right? Right?
Next weekend, it's getting a sizable re-release that'll be a "sing-along edition" of the film. Of course, that'll attract families and other audiences back into the theater. It's holding on like mad already, as it's still in the Top 5. This sing-along re-release could bump it up a spot or two, a sort of last laugh before The Lego Movie dominates… Then again I wouldn't be surprised if Frozen still holds on the weekend that film comes out.
Anyways… Frozen's success, I think, is all thanks to a couple of things. This is a real case of the stars lining up at the perfect time.
The release date: Thanksgiving week has been a great time to release family-friendly animated films, as Disney made that their go-to spot back in 1988 when Oliver & Company was released.
Next-to-no competition: Typically, the final big animated films of the year hit theaters in November. There are rare exceptions, most of which hadn't done so well. (The Princess and the Frog scores the highest December animated opening with $24 million.)
Frozen not only had no legitimate animated competition to face in December (Walking with Dinosaurs wasn't going to affect it to begin with), it had no real family-friendly competition either. Blockbusters like The Hobbit didn't really affect it either. With that, there was more than enough time for word of mouth to spread. This doesn't normally happen to animated films because months are so crowded, Frozen was lucky. The film has currently scored the rare 5x multiplier for an animated film… Or film, period.
This month has The Nut Job, but given how that's doing and how Frozen is just a notch below it right now, the silly squirrels are no match for Anna and Elsa. Frozen, because the sing-along re-release, should top that film on the chart next weekend.
The final phase of the marketing: The Elsa trailer, the emphasis on the film's soundtrack and everything else that popped up in October was, I believe, what got this film that $67 million opening weekend.
Had they continued marketing it the way they did prior to the Elsa trailer, it would've opened with around $50 million at best. Tangled numbers.
The Elsa trailer focused on story, characters, music and the "event status" of Disney films, instead of bombarding us with quick cuts of action and jokes. I firmly believe that this trailer got tons of adults interested in seeing this film, but that $67 million opening wasn't just because of kids and their parents. After all, parents are the ones buying the tickets. Kids can beg mommy and daddy all they want with a certain movie, but they can say no if they don't want to subject themselves to torture. *cough*Smurfs 2*cough*
… and finally…
It was very good: Quality product actually does sell. Now before you say, "But movies like Transformers make $300 million easily!" Well that's because they are front loaded, open big (teens flock to see them on opening weekend) and they fizzle out on subsequent weekends. They get to gross that much money because they open with a boatload of bucks to begin with. Frozen on the other hand had staying power and climbed to $300 million. You could say something like Transformers got $300 million, while Frozen earned it.
Also, it had something in it for everyone. Most animated family films have this advantage over a lot of the big releases. That's why they normally get into the Top 5 of the year… It ain't just kids making these things huge. (Things that need to be repeated ad nauseam.)
Frozen is Walt Disney Animation Studios' highest grossing film. Of course, I'm excluding re-releases, because if we factor those in, The Lion King still remains the king with $422 million domestically and $987 million worldwide.
It's the highest grossing film directed by a woman, the previous record-holder also happened to be an animated feature: DreamWorks' Kung Fu Panda 2.
The soundtrack hit #1 on Billboard and iTunes, 'nuff said.
It's a film about two sisters, both of whom are of *gasp* royalty. And this thing has made over $800 million at the worldwide box office, it may even make a billion since it has not opened in China and Japan yet! Boys are afraid of girly princess movies? See Disney, this is what happens when you ignore that one little portion of your audience and actually market your films towards adults and the everyone else… Now if you only did that for The Princess and the Frog back in 2009… Disney Animation is for everyone, not 6-12 year old boys.
Frozen's success will most likely convince the suits at other animation studios to green light more musicals. Prior to this film's opening, a few have been in the works from DreamWorks: Mumbai Musical, Trolls and Larrikins. The first of which was announced before Tangled even came out. It's currently slated for spring 2016. Trolls is set for fall 2016, Larrikins doesn't have a release date yet. Now that Frozen is a major-league hit, I wouldn't be surprised if it's announced that something like Larrikins will get a 2017 or 2018 release date in the coming months.
Illumination announced an untitled musical earlier this month. Again, had to be because of the success of Frozen. Or at least partially because of… I wouldn't be surprised if either Sony Animation and Blue Sky announce musicals soon.
Studios might look into fairy tales, too… Or maybe we'll start seeing even more stories with female leads in mainstream feature animation. Pixar's got another film with a female lead, Inside Out of course, arriving next summer so that could also help.
Last but not least, it's a big hit for Walt Disney Animation Studios in every department. They've deserved a hit of this size since their comeback in 2007, and they've finally got it. Hopefully Disney marketing will market future films properly, and in turn, the studio will score huge hits with each new film. Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Giants and Moana make for an incredibly ambitious, diverse and exciting slate. They all need to be "events".
Now if you've seen Frozen and loved it, and haven't seen the previous string of Disney animated films, please… Check out everything the studio has done from Meet The Robinsons to Wreck-It Ralph, and be amazed at what you missed.
On that note, 'Let It Go' in multiple languages…