Over the weekend, following its strong release in Japan, Disney announced that the film had narrowly edged out "Toy Story 3" to become the highest grossing animated film in the history of the medium. It has made over a billion dollars worldwide, and has spawned countless annoying YouTube videos of teenagers singing their own uninspired renditions of "Let It Go."
What makes the success of "Frozen" so staggering is that, unlike "Toy Story 3," it wasn't a highly anticipated sequel. It was, instead, an adaptation of a brilliant but somewhat creaky Hans Christian Andersen story that was contemporized in amazing, ingenious ways. Filmmakers Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee knew that the Disney Princesses needed some fresh blood – not only did "Frozen" have two princesses, but the princesses were deeply flawed, human characters and the story itself was laced with a feminist subtext that emphasized self-empowerment and individuality over finding your dream man and wearing pretty dresses.
We got our first taste of "Frozen" last summer at Disney's Comic Con-ish D23 convention in Anaheim. The only footage from the film anyone had actually seen was a somewhat underwhelming, goofily staged teaser trailer, so it wasn't exactly clear what kind of movie "Frozen" would be. Then, during the animation presentation, we were shown the amazing "In Summer" musical number... followed by Idina Menzel coming out on stage and singing "Let It Go," as snow drifted from above. (Songwriters Bobby and Kristen Lopez's contribution to the film's success cannot be overstated.) Nobody knew what the movie was or how "Let It Go" would factor, but there were people holding back tears on that sweltering summery day (not me... of course not...) That was when it was very clear: "Frozen" is going to be huge.
So, congratulations "Frozen." You deserve it. You made little girls everywhere understand that compassion and kindness and self worth are what's truly important. And you did it with a song in your heart and a spring in your step. That's even more impressive than the stratospheric box office numbers.