On this day back in 2013, the world was about to come down with a serious case of 'Frozen' fever, when Walt Disney Animation Studios released it's 53rd Animated Feature, telling the story of a misunderstood princess and her sister that longed to be free, a Disney instant classic was born.
Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's fairy tale 'The Snow Queen', 'Frozen' premiered at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood, California, on November 19, 2013, but went into general theatrical release on November 27.
It was met with strongly positive reviews from critics and audiences, with some film critics considering Frozen to be the best Disney animated feature film since the studio's renaissance era. The film was also a massive commercial success; it accumulated nearly $1.3 billion in worldwide box office revenue, $400 million of which was earned in the United States and Canada and $247 million of which was earned in Japan. It ranks as the highest-grossing animated film of all time, the third-highest-grossing original film of all time, the ninth-highest-grossing film of all time, the highest-grossing film of 2013, and the third-highest-grossing film in Japan. With over 18 million home media sales in 2014, it became the best-selling film of the year in the United States.
Actress Kristen Bell was cast as the voice of Anna on March 5, 2012. Lee admitted that Bell's casting selection was influenced after the filmmakers listened to a series of vocal tracks Bell had recorded when she was young, where the actress performed several songs from The Little Mermaid, including "Part of Your World". Bell completed her recording sessions while she was pregnant, and subsequently re-recorded some of her character's lines after her pregnancy, as her voice had deepened. Bell was called in to re-record dialogue for the film "probably 20 times," which is normal for lead roles in Disney animated films whose scripts are still evolving. As for her approach to the role of Anna, Bell enthused that she had "dreamed of being in a Disney animated film" since she was four years old, saying, "I always loved Disney animation, but there was something about the females that was unattainable to me. Their posture was too good and they were too well-spoken, and I feel like I really made this girl much more relatable and weirder and scrappier and more excitable and awkward. I'm really proud of that."
Frozen is "a bit of a feminist movie for Disney. I'm really proud of that. It has everything, but it's essentially about sisterhood. I think that these two women are competitive with one another, but always trying to protect each other – sisters are just so complicated. It's such a great relationship to have in movies, especially for young kids."
—Idina Menzel, on her impression of Frozen
On June 23, 2012, Idina Menzel, a Broadway veteran, was cast as the voice of Elsa. Menzel had formerly auditioned for Tangled, but didn't get the part. However, Tangled's casting director Jamie Sparer Roberts preserved a recording of Menzel's performance on her iPhone, and on the basis of that, asked her to audition along with Bell for Frozen. Before they were officially cast, Menzel and Bell deeply impressed the directors at an early table read; after reading the entire script out loud, they sang "Wind Beneath My Wings" together as a duet, since no music had been composed yet. Bell had suggested that idea when she visited Menzel at her California home to prepare together for the table read. The songwriters were also present for the table read; Anderson-Lopez said "Lasseter was in heaven" upon hearing Menzel and Bell sing in harmony, and from that moment forward, he insisted, "Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel have to be in the movie!" Lee later said, "They sung it like sisters and what you mean to me, and there wasn't a dry eye in the house after they sang." Between December 2012 and June 2013, the casting of additional roles was announced, including Jonathan Groff as Kristoff, Alan Tudyk as the Duke of Weselton, Santino Fontana as Prince Hans, and Josh Gad as Olaf.
Following Lee's extensive involvement in Frozen's development process and her close work with director Buck and songwriters Lopez and Anderson-Lopez, studio heads Lasseter and Catmull promoted her to co-director of the film alongside Buck in August 2012. Her promotion was officially announced on November 29, 2012, making Lee the first woman to direct a full-length animated motion picture produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios. She primarily worked on the story while Buck focused on animation. Lee later stated that she was "really moved by a lot of what Chris had done" and that they "shared a vision" of the story, having "very similar sensibilities".
By November 2012, the production team thought they had finally "cracked" the puzzle of how to make the film's story work, but according to Del Vecho, in late February 2013, it became clear that the film still "wasn't working", which necessitated further rewriting of scenes and songs from February through June 2013. He explained, "we rewrote songs, we took out characters and changed everything, and suddenly the movie gelled. But that was close. In hindsight, piece of cake, but during, it was a big struggle." Looking back, Anderson-Lopez joked she and Lopez thought at the time they could end up working as "birthday party clown[s]" if the final product "pull[ed] ... down" their careers and recalled that "we were really writing up until the last minute." In June (five months before the already-announced release date), the songwriters finally got the film working when they composed the song "For the First Time in Forever", which, in Lopez's words, "became the linchpin of the whole movie."
That month, Disney conducted test screenings of the half-completed film with two audiences (one made up of families and the other made up of adults) in Phoenix, Arizona, at which Lasseter and Catmull were personally present. Lee recalled that it was the moment when they realized they "had something because the reaction was huge." Catmull, who had instructed Lee at the outset to "earn the ending," told her afterward, "you did it".
Source: Disney Wikia
Banner Photo Credit: Disney