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Market Research


Why Frozen is a success

A Disney blockbuster that has caught the market by surprise


Film critics and licensing professionals had their suspicions when Frozen was released, as it seemed "more of the same." However, the film has become a phenomenon, and indeed, since the end of March is the highest grossing animated film in history, surpassing Toy Story 3 with more than $1.2 billion raised. It is also the first film directed by a woman to overcome the $1 billion barrier at the box office and is in sixth place in the ranking of all movies. Not only that - Frozen won the Oscar for best song and best animated film, the first Disney Animation Studio to win this category since it was introduced in 2001 (though Disney/Pixar has seven of these awards).

One of the keys to its success is that it appeals both to boys and girls. Despite being a movie about two princesses, 43% of the first weekend's audience in the U.S. was male. This is not only because many stereotypes are a thing of the past (let’s be optimistic), but also because Disney enthusiastically publicized Olaf, the snowman and humorous counterpoint, giving him almost as much presence as the protagonists. Also, the film subverts some of the classic elements of princesses movies (there is a prince, but he is a villain, for example). In fact, Disney has tried to update the model and has taken great care with communication and marketing to reach the widest possible audience.

Licensed products, a sales success
In addition to the good results at the box office, the property has also recorded great sales of licensed items. In fact, it is already the first property for toys in the U.S., according to the NPD Group, and in the UK stores are running out of product, especially dolls and costumes, which also are successful in Spain, as you can read in the report on the Carnival campaign published in Juguetes B2B.

Some analysts expect these licensed items to bring revenues of between $500 million and $1 billion in 2014. Not bad, but we should also consider that Cars is bringing $2 billion annually and Mickey and Disney Princess are on the $4 billion mark.

But of course, Frozen has just started its merchandising life cycle. Although there is not yet a sequel confirmed (in spite of the rumours), Disney is working on the musical. And it is not a minor development, considering the example of The Lion King - this show premiered in 1997 and is the longest and highest grossing Broadway musical, and in addition is also present in London since 1999 and in Tokyo in 1998, besides being premiered in Los Angeles, Sydney, Johannesburg, Paris, Madrid, and Las Vegas, among other cities.

It actually seems that musicals are making a comeback to movie theaters. After a decade in which Pixar left music aside (Toy Story even jokes about it), Disney has increased its focus on this element that allows more viewings, as music does not depend on the surprise of a story. In fact, the soundtrack has sold over 2.7 million copies only in the U.S., where it has been the biggest selling album for 13 non-consecutive weeks. Moreover, the video clip has been viewed on YouTube more than 220 million times, not counting versions, mash-ups, and parodies.

In short, Frozen is a return to the classic animation, after fifteen years of Pixar trying to surprise us every with every release. Even so, or perhaps because of that, it has become a success that, of course and as usual with Disney, is extending into all possible areas.

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