What Disney's 'Frozen' Has In Common with the Most Popular Movies of All Time
So apparently everyone’s writing about why Disney’s “Frozen” is so popular: 19th all-time domestically in box office grosses ($399.96 million); sixth all-time worldwide ($1.129 billion).
Let me rephrase that. Websites interested in generating hits are generating unremarkable pieces about why “Frozen” is so popular.
Vox gives us three reasons: 1) Inflation (obvious, but not really an answer); 2) foreign earnings (ditto); and 3) “because people like it (duh)” (yes: duh).
Vulture gives us eight reasons: 1) It’s a throwback to classic Disney; 2) the wisecracking sidekick as in the Shrek films; 3) the songs; 4) the “villain” who is not the villain (i.e., Elsa); 5) a resonant tale with real-life overtones (i.e., it’s about Elsa becoming her own person ... through her ability to freeze everything); 6) girl power! (i.e., the twist ending); 7) two Disney princesses (see: William Goldman); and 8) that amazing preshow short. Of these, 6) is probably the most important. 6) and 7). Again: see William Goldman.
Pop Matters? It’s just confused on the subject. It doesn’t get why “Frozen” is so popular. It doesn’t even like the movie.
Anyway, I can only read so many of these things before getting pissed off, because they so miss the point. If you’re doing a piece on the popularity of “Frozen,” surely you mention what the movie has in common with some of the most popular movies of all time. They’re all about this:
A woman choosing between two men against a backdrop of tragedy.
“Gone with the Wind,” the biggest all-time domestic hit (adjusted for inflation), is about Scarlett choosing between Rhett and Ashley against the backdrop of the U.S. Civil War.
“The Sound of Music,” the third-biggest all-time domestic hit (adjusted for inflation), is about Maria choosing between Capt. Von Trapp and God against the backdrop of Nazi invasion.
“Titanic,” the second-biggest all-time domestic and worldwide hit (unadjusted for inflation), is about Rose choosing between Jack and Cal as the Titanic sinks into the North Atlantic.
And now “Frozen.” Here, Anna has to choose between Kristoff and Hans against the backdrop of a perpetual winter.
To this formula you can add the “Twilight” series (Bella/Jacob and Edward/high school) and the “Hunger Games” series (Katniss/Gale and Peeta/dystopian inequality).
Yes, of course, other facets of these movies matter. “Let It Go” matters. Looking up to the beautiful, powerful older sister matters. Comedy relief matters. Quality matters. That twist ending matters.
But if I were in Hollywood and wanted to make a lot of money? I would only try variations of this story. You do it right (“Frozen”) and you gross a billion dollars. You do it wrong (“Pearl Harbor”), and you only gross half a billion dollars.