Monday Morning Quarterback Part I

By BOP Staff

December 2, 2013

History to be made in 3... 2... 1...

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Kim Hollis: Frozen, the latest animated film from Disney, earned $67.4 million over the three-day portion of the weekend and $93.9 million from Wednesday-through Sunday. How do think Disney was able to achieve the highest Thanksgiving opening ever?

Jason Barney: Part of the equation for success is the brand. Disney doesn't put out many animated stinkers. An animated holiday release in this part of the schedule is not a slam dunk to be a hit, but Disney put out a pretty good product with Frozen. We only need to go back to last year with "Rise of the Guardians" for a late year animated release that did not really catch on. I think people liked the trailers and were drawn in by the marketing. Also, there is a little bit of a rising tide raises all boats here. It certainly helped to have Catching Fire doing so well. Movie theaters were the place to be for a lot of people over the last few days.

Matthew Huntley: Aside from the all the usual reasons - family movie, Disney brand name, holiday weekend - Frozen is benefiting from amazing word-of-mouth. I've yet to see the movie but I've heard only positive, in fact, extremely positive, things about it. I hope to catch it soon and am crossing my fingers it will live up to its hype. I have a feeling it will be a major player throughout the holiday season.

Max Braden: This caught me off guard. I must have missed the marketing campaign, because the one ad I saw for this on TV gave me the impression that it was a cheap Ice Age knockoff. I can't explain how Frozen's numbers absolutely trounced Tangled, which released Thanksgiving three years ago, and which I think was far more suitable to advertising.

Felix Quinonez: I think its awesome opening was a result of a perfect storm. It's been a while since the last family animated movie, (sorry Free Birds) the release date is perfect, the movie is getting great reviews and very positive word-of-mouth and the Disney brand is the icing on the cake.

Edwin Davies: I think the ads highlighted the stuff that mattered for audiences; great, seasonally appropriate visuals, the Disney brand and Olaf the snowman for the kids. It positioned itself as the perfect family film for the holiday, or at least a slightly less intense alternative to Catching Fire, and it benefited from being only new release of any substance. It had to go up against the second week of Catching Fire, which might have deterred more timid studios, but Thanksgiving is one of those rare times of the year when everyone has enough free time to check out multiple movies at their leisure, and so it was able to ride the rising tide to dizzying heights.


Reagen Sulewski: We talked last week about The Hunger Games being treated like a sequel for its first film - I think this is a case of Disney getting credit for a sequel for an entirely unrelated film. The Pixar effect is starting to rub off on them - years after acquiring that company, a similar type of brand trust is collecting around this type of CGI princess film. Of course Disney has had an amazingly strong brand for decades, but this is a different kind of behavior. Maybe we'll call this the second Disney renaissance in a few years.

Kim Hollis: I think Disney really kickstarted the marketing for this all the way back when they put out the first teaser trailer. The bit between Olaf the snowman and Sven the reindeer scrambling for a carrot is reminiscent of Scrat and his acorn in the Ice Age previews. I would also agree that Disney has established the whole "princess" thing as its own specialty genre at this point. It also really seems to owe much to Tangled, which is a film that has garnered a lot of goodwill since its release. I would argue that no one does fairy tale cartoons quite the way Disney does. Wreck-It Ralph had some interesting multi-demographic appeal, but sometimes you really just need to focus on the areas where you know you can knock it out of the park. Frozen is a perfect example.

David Mumpower: I want to expand on Reagen's point. When Disney purchased Pixar in 2006, everyone agreed that the Pixar brand had much more value with regards to animated fare. Disney had lost its way. When they added John Lasseter as the big bossman of all things Disney animation, they gained a moral compass that had been sadly lacking. The unexpected fallout from Lasseter's new job is that Pixar has become less special. Cars 2, Brave and Monsters University all have their individual merits but none of them approaches the quality of Up or WALL-E. In terms of quality plus financial success, Toy Story 3 was a perfect project, meaning that Pixar followed a run of three wonderful titles with three that damaged the brand.

Conversely, Disney's primary animation arm has restored itself to its past glory. No, I am not talking about the straight to video nonsense that wound up in wide release. I think it was called Submarines. Or Zeppelins. I mean Tangled and Frozen, of course. Both films enrich the already breathtaking filmography of Disney Animation. Frozen has performed as a de facto sequel because the love for Tangled was so passionate that any association to it would entice viewers to return to somewhat familiar territory. And for everything Disney has done wrong with recent financial disasters like Mars Needs Moms, John Carter and The Lone Ranger, there is one area where they have always differentiated themselves. Disney does princesses right. Frozen features not one but two. Combining that knowledge with the Scrat aspect that I was going to mention if Kim hadn't stolen my thunder, Frozen has as many selling points as any Disney/Pixar title in recent memory.



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