‘Frozen’ still a cultural phenomenon one year later

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Leah and Charlotte Neeley pose with Elsa and Anna, the two famous princess figures in the movie “Frozen.” The princesses needed to be scheduled six months in advance for the party due to popular demand. (Briann Neeley)

November 2014 marked the one-year anniversary of Disney’s “Frozen,” and people are still singing along.

The movie earned roughly $1.2 billion worldwide, becoming the fifth-highest-grossing animation film of all time, according to The New Yorker.

“I think so many people like ‘Frozen’ because it’s about families,” said Internet sensation and 12-year-old star vocalist Lexie Walker. “I know a lot of people think we should ‘let it go’ and stop singing the songs, but I love them!”

LDS artist Alex Boyé featured Walker in his cover of “Let it Go,” which has more than 19 million views on YouTube.

“Frozen” is known for its exciting story, strong female characters and its soundtrack, which earned more than a million album sales and won two Academy Awards. The DVD became Amazon’s best-selling children’s film of all time, and the film continues to bring in revenue. The cultural phenomenon of “Frozen” has reshaped the world, but some critics are wondering when everyone will just “let it go.”

“‘Frozen’ was huge when it first came out,” said Briann Neeley, from Salt Lake, a mother of two girls who love the movie. “You would go to the store, and there was a whole entire section of ‘Frozen’ and nothing was on the shelves; the stores were always selling out. They just couldn’t keep their shelves stocked. I don’t think that Disney anticipated how big the movie was going to be, but lots of people have gotten sick of it. My husband hates the movie.”

While some parents may cringe at hearing the songs over and over, children are still enthusiastic about the movie. According to a June 2014 article in The New Yorker, the average wait time to meet the character Elsa from “Frozen” at Disney World was five hours. Little girls beg their parents for “Frozen”-themed birthday parties, college students schedule movie nights, and even adults (including those without children) have been engulfed by the film.  Some have wondered what it is about this movie that has captured the attention of society.

“I think that one of the reasons of why ‘Frozen’ was so successful is because people were ready to cheer on Disney again,” said Bryce Randle, a BYU graduate, an animation editor at Paramount and a former Disney television animation editor. “‘Frozen’ breathed new energy into Disney. I also think that it was the timing of everything. The older generation grew up with great Disney classics like ‘Lion King’ and ‘Beauty and the Beast.’ ‘Frozen’ was a musical revival that took the adults back to the Disney they grew up with, and kids of course loved it because it was fresh and interesting.”

“Frozen” connects with those of different genders, ages and life backgrounds. Many critics have raved about the strong stance of feminism that comes from the movie. due to its two strong female heroines. Both sisters, Anna and Elsa, have strong and confident personalities and don’t get “saved” by any men. They rely on one another and their family bonds to get them through difficult times.

The independent nature of both princesses struck a chord with people all around the world. YouTube covers of the song “Let it go” were in the millions, and little girls wanted to be just like these independent princesses. Disney sales skyrocketed.

“Elsa is the first time we’ve really had a main character deal with and overcome some serious fears of the outside world and self hate,” said Megan C. Lloyd, an animation student at BYU. “Seeing her get over that seems to have stuck more with audiences — especially young girls.”

Imagination Parties is a business in Utah that hires Disney princesses to come and visit girls during their birthday parties or other events.

“Elsa and Anna helped our business improve a lot,” said Andrea Larson, co-owner of Imagination Parties. “Their songs are so fun for all the girls to sing, and they have been a big part of our business. Both Elsa and Anna are usually booked for parties 75 to 80 percent of the time. We have had several different Disney princesses out at the same event, but all the little girls just want Elsa and Anna; sometimes they don’t even pay attention to the other princesses.”

The soundtrack of “Frozen” has also been a huge success. The soundtrack was the fifth best-selling contract album in the U.S. in 2014, with 338,000 copies sold over the year, according to lists for the top 10 soundtracks of 2013. Many loved the music at first but quickly became sick of the whole soundtrack altogether because covers of the songs had been so prevalent. Now YouTube is being flooded with parody videos of the song.

The movie was based off of the classic story “The Snow Queen” by Hans Christen Andersen. Although this story was known by many, “Frozen” rose in popularity because of the interesting twist the storywriters took. They modified the story of the snow queen and added additional characters, even making the snow queen herself (Elsa) one of the heroines.

While “Frozen” is still popular even after a year, with time things will calm down and Disney audiences will anxiously await the next heir to the cultural throne of animation.

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