FROZEN Is The Biggest Thing Ever. Will Disney Screw It Up Now?

The film is a phenomenon, one that took Disney by surprise. Will they know how to follow it up?

How big is Frozen? Well, the album is still top of the US album charts. In the Q2 Disney earnings call Bob Iger said that the company's 27% spike in profits this year comes largely thanks to Frozen. Nine out of ten of the best-selling items at Disney Stores are Frozen items. It's the sixth highest grossing movie in history. And ask anyone with kids or who is around kids for the anecdotal evidence - this movie has hit the youngest generation in a big, big way.

We're talking potentially generation-defining. And Disney had no idea; when the film was released they were caught with their pants down on merch, which was impossible to find anywhere and way too limited for demand. Honestly, I'm not sure anyone could have known the film would have an impact like it has, becoming the highest-grossing animated feature ever (global) and continuing to hold the imaginations of millions. It was a surprise - a pleasant one.

But now that the people have spoken Disney has to decide what to do next with the property. There's already a Broadway show in the works, but will that be it? When songwriting team Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez won the Oscar for Best Song they jokingly said, "Let's do Frozen 2." Iger has already said he believes the film has "franchise potential." And there are legions of kids who would, without a doubt, line up to see more of Elsa and Anna and Olaf. 

I'm heartened that the Q2 earnings call didn't include a Frozen 2 announcement. It would be easy to say that now while basking in all the money, and the fact that they haven't yet rushed into the sequel means they're doing it right. I just hope they keep doing it right - this is a movie that is wonderful and unique... but that I think could be bruised by a crummy cash-grab. There might be some kind of half-assed Frozen TV show or a direct-to-video movie, but I hope Disney treats the theatrical version of Frozen as sacred.

I don't even know where you take the story after the end of the movie, and I don't envy anyone who has to follow it up. I wish they wouldn't; I get that this is the world we live in (a world serial-loving nerds like me helped create), but it would be cool if Frozen was, like the classic Disney films, left to be its own movie thing (again, let them mercilessly exploit it on home video and on TV, as they do with all their properties). The reality is that the way it has hit kids - that can still be diluted. A succession of shitty sequels will slowly drain the impact of the original. I love the idea of Frozen having enormous cultural cachet in a few decades' time, and not just being a "Remember what we were all into in the 2010s?" nostalgia trip. It's that good. 

They should at least do a Lucas and wait 20 years before devaluing the movie with terrible follow-ups. 

But I feel good about it all. Like I said, the lack of a Frozen 2 announcement shows that Disney is taking it one day at a time. They didn't know what a hit they had in advance, but now they're treating it like a crown jewel instead of a strip mine. This is a real test for a revitalized Disney (and Disney Animation), and it's one I'm hopeful they pass.