So was it glamorous & exciting for Chris Buck and
Jennifer Lee earlier today when they learned that "Frozen" -- the
Walt Disney Pictures release that they had co-directed -- had been nominated
for Best Animated Feature? Not exactly.
Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved
"You have to understand that the Academy makes these
announcements at around 5:30 a.m.
West Coast Time. And the last time I was nominated, for "Surf's Up
I didn't set my alarm. And then you get all these phone calls," Chris
explained. "So this time, I thought -- just in case, just be safe -- I'd
set my alarm. But once I got up, there were all of these early morning chores
that I needed to do like feed the dog and adding water to the fish tank. So I
was juggling all of that stuff as I was listening to the nominations."
And Jennifer's case, she was still in bed as Chris Hemsworth & Cheryl Boone
Isaacs began reading off this year's nominees.
"But I have a very good excuse for being in bed," Lee insisted.
"You see, I have the flu right now. And since Chris and I are supposed to
be traveling to Japan & China shortly to support the launch of 'Frozen' over
there, I figured that the best thing for me to is just get some rest. Stay in
bed and concentrate on getting better. But then I just happened to wake up at 5:30 a.m. So I turned on my laptop and watched
the live stream of the announcements from bed. And then when I heard that
"Frozen' was nominated, for about 30 seconds there, I didn't feel sick.
But then my cold kicked back in again. Which is why I'm still here in
Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee with this year's Golden Globe award for Best Animated Feature
Well, no matter under what conditions Chris & Jennifer received this news,
they were still thrilled to learn that Disney "Frozen" had been
nominated for Best Animated Feature.
And you know what makes this sort of recognition from
members of the Academy of Motion
Picture Arts and Sciences all the sweeter? The
fact that Disney "Frozen" was actually produced on a severely
compressed production schedule. Few people outside of this Walt Disney
Animation Studios know this, but this animated reimagining of Hans Christian
Andersen's classic fairy tale was originally supposed to be Disney Studios' big
holiday release for 2014. But back in the Fall of 2011, when WDAS head John
Lasseter saw how well this film's story was coming together, he then decided to
shift "Frozen" 's release date to Holiday
"And the fact that we were still able to meet that new
deadline, still able deliver a quality film under those sorts of conditions, that's a real
tribute to our crew. They're the ones who actually made this movie
happen," Lee enthused. "These were people who gave 120% the whole
time. Chris and I were constantly asking for new things. We doubled -- no,
tripled -- the number of crowd shots and effects to go with along our story
telling and they were always right there. These people were just not going to
compromise. They wanted 'Frozen' to be the very best thing that Disney had ever
done. And I just love that about our crew. They always tried to top themselves."
"And as for 'Frozen' 's tight production schedule ... You know, sometimes a situation like that when
-- as a filmmaker -- you're in a time crunch, it can actually be a good
thing," Buck explained. "You can spend a lot of time in development
going 'What if?,' 'What if?' But when you've only got two years to make your
movie, you've then got to start making decisions. You've got to move down that
road with determination. So seriously, sometimes when you've got a tight
production schedule, it can actually help make your movie stronger."
And speaking of stronger: What with Disney
"Frozen" now standing at $319 million in domestic ticket sales (which
means that it's now officially displaced Walt Disney Animation Studios'
previous top earner, "The Lion King
." Which sold $312 million worth
of tickets in North America back in 1994), and this
film's soundtrack being the No. 1 best-selling digital album in the country
right now, not to mention Disney CEO Bob Iger confirming that a Broadway stage
musical version of "Frozen" is already in the works ... It's
sometimes hard to remember that time when the team at WDAS wasn't entirely sure
that modern movie-goers were actually going to embrace their take on "The
"I mean, just 12 weeks ago, it was still just us at the studio with this movie.
We had done a screening of 'Frozen' with
an audience back in June and the response was far beyond what we had
expected," Jennifer remembered. "But even so, we didn't know if that
reaction was going to be typical of how 'Frozen' was going to be received once
it got into theaters. But to have people be so enthusiastic, to have them
embrace this movie in the way they have ... It's just mind-blowing. I haven't
processed it yet."
Which brings us to the big question: What's Disney "Frozen" 's
secret? What is it about this particular Walt Disney Animation Studios
production that then allowed it to make such a strong connection with today's
audiences? Chris thinks that "Frozen" 's success has a lot to do with
the way this animated feature mixes classic Disney with modern storytelling
"Look, when it comes to classic Disney, I've got it in my DNA. I mean, the
guy who trained me, the man who mentored me when I first came to the Studio was
Eric Larson, one of Walt's Nine Old Men," Buck continued. "But what
Jen and I wanted to do with 'Frozen' was tell a classic Disney story only with
characters that weren't up pedestals. I mean, if you really look at Anna &
Elsa, they're contemporary characters with flaws. These two sisters are just
like the rest of us. So it's this mix of Disney classic and the contemporary
that I think audiences have really been responding to."
"When Chris and I first talked about 'Frozen,' we wanted
characters that sounded genuine & were relatable. Our No. 1 thing when we
were working on Anna & Elsa's dialogue was
'Don't try and control them. Let the characters speak as they really
would,' Lee said. "And -- in the end -- this pair of sisters surprised us.
They wound up being a whole lot more feisty than we originally thought they
And speaking of feisty: When Jennifer was casting about for inspiration when it
came to how Teenage Anna might move, she found some sitting right on the other side
of her dining room table.
"My daughter Aggie was a very big inspiration for Anna
in terms of her physicality. And then
when it came time to record 'Do You Want to Build a Snowman' ... Well, we
really wanted to use the first two verses of this song to show you Anna's
personality. And we wanted the singing to be done by real-sounding kids, not
necessarily Broadway kids," Lee explained. "And Aggie? Well, she
loves to sing. More importantly, she can sing in key. And since my daughter has
the sort of feisty spirit that we were looking for with Teenage Anna ...
Well, everything sort of fell into
"Even so, that whole having-Aggie-in-the-recording-studio thing was very
nerve-wracking for me," Jennifer recalled. "I don't know how parents
do that. I was so nervous for her."
(L to R) Disney "Frozen" producer Peter Del Vecho, Agatha Lee Monn,Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck. Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.All rights reserved
"Yeah. You were way more nervous than Aggie was at that
session," Chris laughed.
Well, if Lee got that nervous while her daughter was recording that portion of
'Do You Want to Build a Snowman,' one wonders how she & Chris are going to
feel on the evening of March 2nd. When the two of them are seated inside of Hollywood's
Dolby Theatre along with the directors of "Despicable Me 2
"Ernest & Celestine," "The Croods
" and "The Wind
Rises." As they wait to hear which film Academy members awarded the Best
Animated Feature Oscar to.
Here's hoping that Jennifer Lee is finally over her cold by
then. Because having the flu & celebrating the success of Disney
"Frozen" probably wouldn't mix.
Is there any possibility that Imagineering might be dusting off Marc Davis's "Snow Queen" ride proposal for a "Frozen" theme park attraction?
Frozen is so good, because it has songs, lovely sights, great characters and most important: because it is a timeless story. It doesn't cash in on quick humor, but it has a heart and will still have the same quality in say 50 years! Just like the old Disney movies, this one has been made for the future and not just for now (like almost all other CGI movies from other studios and some recent movies by Disney...).
I was thrilled with the movie, I saw it in cinema's 6 times and everyone I brought along was amazed by the movie.
It's just great quality, that's what we expect from Disney and that's what brings in the money in the long run. Hopefully Disney understands this and will NOT make a sequel to this movie, but other quality fairy tales with songs :)