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Disney's marketing of "Frozen" may have frustrated animation fans, but it won over a far larger audience for this film

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Disney's marketing of "Frozen" may have frustrated animation fans, but it won over a far larger audience for this film

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In response to yesterday's " "Transcendence" & "Rise of the Guardians" illustrate the fine art of how NOT to promote a motion picture" story, FuseMP posted the following comment in JHM's discussion boards:

I cannot remember the last good marketing campaign carried out by Disney, you mentioned that Guardians suffered from trailers that concentrated on the wrong thing (in this case, the elves for comedy which felt Minion-ish which they were), that is exactly the same mistake Disney made with Frozen where the trailer was Olaf Olaf Olaf rather than let the true movie speak for itself which is what it finally did when they released the Let It Go scene and the movie went from strength to strength from that point on. My first comment about the Frozen trailer was that it seemed like it was advertising a Dreamworks movie which is all about the gags than a Disney animated princess musical classic.

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Um ... Forgive me for pulling a Kanye West to your Taylor Swift ("I'm really happy for you, FuseMP, and I'm gonna let you finish ..."), but the last time I looked, Disney "Frozen" was the highest grossing animated film of all time. According to Box Office Mojo, this Walt Disney Animation Studios production's worldwide box office total currently sits at $1,1292 billion. Not million. Billion. With a "B."

So when a movie sells that many tickets, it's really hard to argue that it was poorly marketed. If anything, based solely on "Frozen" 's worldwide grosses, one might argue that the Mouse House's marketing team put together a highly successful campaign for this WDAS production.

To get to your original point, FuseMP, was "Frozen" 's original teaser trailer built around Olaf & Sven? Absolutely. But that was a deliberate choice on Disney's part. When this minute-and-36-seconds-long teaser bowed back on June 19, 2013 ... Well, the Studio's PR team knew that it would be another five months until "Frozen" held its world premiere at the El Capitan Theatre on November 19, 2013. Which is why -- rather than reveal too much too soon about this Chris Buck / Jennifer Lee film -- the Mouse's marketing staff opted instead to give people just a taste of "Frozen." Putting together a teaser trailer that would then play up the humor of this upcoming Walt Disney Pictures release.

"So why did Disney build this teaser trailer around Olaf & Sven, rather than Anna & Elsa?," you ask. To be blunt, that was a deliberate choice. The marketing department worked closely with WDAS staffers to craft a "Frozen" teaser trailer that would appeal to males 18 - 24 years-of-age. Which are an audience segment that you just have to win over if you're looking to insure that your motion picture will then become a four quadrant box office success.

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"So when did Anna & Elsa actually enter the picture, advertising-wise?," you query. Well, the poster that first gave would-be moviegoers a relatively close look at the sisters was released on September 16th of last year while "Frozen" 's really-for-real trailer didn't bow until September 26, 2013. Which was roughly two months before this WDAS production went into wide release on November 27th of that same year.

But you wanna know what I find interesting? Take a close look at the official "Frozen" trailer. Or should I say a close listen?

Do you see what I mean? Over the course of this two-minute-and-32-second trailer, you don't hear a single note from any of the songs that Kristen & Bobby Lopez wrote for Disney "Frozen." What you get is a contemporary-sounding music track that plays under a collection of carefully chosen scenes that then try & sell this WDAS film as an action-comedy.

Which -- I know -- may seem disingenuous to animation fans. Especially now that Disney "Frozen" has become so well known for its best-selling soundtrack or the fact that "Let It Go" became such a sing-along sensation on YouTube and then went on to win the Academy Award for Best Song.

But here's the thing: Back then, Disney's marketing department was still trying to convince males 18-24 to buy tickets for "Frozen." And it's tough enough to convince guys in this age group to come see a feature-length cartoon (mostly because they're concerned about what their contemporaries might say should it be discovered that this adult male went to see "a kiddie movie"). But when this same demographic group discovers that this animated film is supposedly to be a musical ... That's a deal breaker for many males 18 - 24.

In fact, to hear many marketing veterans at Disney Studios talk, that's the main reason that "The Princess and the Frog " under-performed at the box office back in 2009. That film's title alone was enough to make many adult males 18 - 24 steer clear of this WDAS production. But once word got out that this John Musker / Ron Clements movie was also a musical, guys avoided "Princess" like the plague.

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Which is why -- in the wake of "The Princess and the Frog" 's disappointing ticket sales -- the Mouse's marketing department insisted that, from here on in, WDAS's princess-based productions have titles that deliberately steer clear of any mention of these film's royalty & fairytale-based elements. Which is why "Rapunzel Unbraided" was rebranded as "Tangled ." And "Elsa and the Snow Queen" eventually got retitled as "Frozen."

Now what's kind of interesting about these one word / seemingly generic titles for Walt Disney Animation Studios' most recent princess-based productions is that they're mostly for the North American market. Whereas overseas, the Company is perfectly okay with calling a spade a spade. Which is why in France, for example, "Tangled" is called "Raiponce" (i.e., the French spelling of Rapunzel) and "Frozen" is called "La Reine des Neiges" (which translates to "The Snow Queen").

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Anyway ... To back up what I'm saying in today's story, FuseMP, I need to tell you about what happened on late September of last year. On September 25th, Nancy & I were among the very first folks to get to see Disney "Frozen." We drove down to NYC for the day and then got to see a nearly completed version of this movie (And when I say "nearly completed," I think that the only thing that was left to do on this WDAS production at that point was its final sound mix) in Disney's 5th Avenue screening room. As I recall, there were just 7 - 10 people in the room with us, with one of those persons being the NYC-based agent who represented both Idina Menzel & Kristen Bell.

Now two days after this screening, I'm out in Burbank for "Frozen" 's Long Lead media event. And at that time, the members of the press were only shown 20 minutes of finished footage from this film.

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"So what exactly were these reporters shown?," you ask. Well, they did get to see two songs from "Frozen" -- "Let It Go" and Olaf's comic number, "In Summer." But the rest of the footage that we were shown that morning in the WDAS screening room were action or comedy scenes. Elsa accidentally revealing her icy magic at her coronation after-party and then fleeing across the fjord. Anna & Kristoff meeting cute at Wandering Oaken's Trading Post and Sauna. Anna & Kristoff rappelling off a steep cliff in an effort to escape from that fearsome snow monster, Marshmallow.

About two hours later, I found myself sitting down with Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee, the directors of "Frozen." Who -- given that I was the only reporter in the building who had actually seen the whole movie at that point -- were as anxious to talk with me about what I thought of their finished film as I was to talk with them about the way Disney appeared to be marketing "Frozen" at that point in time.

Jennifer Lee & Chris Buck introduce Anna from Disney "Frozen" to the press.
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Here's a direct transcript of that moment from my interview with Chris & Jennifer:

JIM: The first act of "Frozen" is so strong and so charming.

JENNIFER: Oh, thank you!

JIM:  But to watch the footage that they showed us today, you'd think that "Frozen" is this epic loaded with action. But you missed all of the sweet stuff with the younger versions of Anna & Elsa, the songs "Do You Want to Build a Snowman" and "For the First Time in Forever" ...

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JENNIFER: That's true. That's true ...

CHRIS: I think why the Studio chose to show that footage today instead of the other stuff is because people have come to expect -- after years & years of seeing Disney animated features -- that the movies we make here are going to be charming. People now take that aspect of a Disney animated feature for granted. And I think -- by stressing the action portion of "Frozen" -- that Disney is trying to surprise people a little bit here. Make them realize that "Frozen" is more than just charm & songs.

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JENNIFER: Look, audiences have preconceived notions about these sort of motion pictures. And the marketing team here at Disney, they're very bright. They seem to know what they're doing. So I trust them. But that said, it has been kind of frustrating that there haven't been any ads out there yet that show the full scope of this film. I mean, it wasn't until the trailer than went out in front of "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 " that they even got the sister story out there. But then again, maybe I'm too close to the movie. And Disney's whole goal with its marketing campaign for "Frozen" is to not exclude anyone. Make sure that this movie seems appealing to all possible audience member ...

Which -- in the end -- is just what Walt Disney Studios' marketing team did with "Frozen." They rolled out the marketing campaign for this WDAS production in such a way that -- when this Walt Disney Pictures release went wide in theaters on November 27th (i.e., the Wednesday that kicks off 2103's long Thanksgiving Day Weekend) -- all four quadrants showed up to support this film.

"Four tickets to 'Frozen,' please." Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

More to the point, if you compare the $104 million that "The Princess and the Frog" earned domestically to the $200.8 million that "Tangled" earned domestically to the $399.9 million that "Frozen" has earned domestically to date ... It's clear that the lessons that Disney's marketing department staffers learned from "Frog" were successfully applied to all future WDAS releases.

So getting back to where we got started earlier today, FuseMP, it's okay for you to say that you didn't like that "Frozen" teaser trailer when it first debuted in theaters & online back in June of 2013. And you're perfectly within your rights to say that you personally would have preferred that this teaser featured Anna & Elsa rather than Olaf & Sven. But to then make the jump from "I didn't personally like the 'Frozen' teaser trailer" to saying that " ... I cannot remember the last good marketing campaign carried out by Disney" when we're talking about the highest grossing animated film of all time ... That's just nonsense, FuseMP. The number of tickets that this movie has sold to date totally negates your claim.

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I mean, even you have to acknowledge that -- with a $1,1292 billion worldwide box office total (and given that "Frozen" is still going strong in all sorts of international territories, that number is sure to climb in the coming weeks & months) -- the Mouse's marketing team ultimately did a brilliant job when it came to selling "Frozen."

Which makes one wonder what Disney now has up their sleeve when it comes to "Big Hero 6." Because other than this postcard which was handed out at last year's D23 EXPO ...

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...  this proof-of-concept footage ....

... which shows what the world of San Fransoyko will look like as well as this concept painting showing a blimp and its passengers ...

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved

... there's been next to nothing else out there about "Big Hero 6." Up until this point, I mean. Though I hear -- just as Disney did with "Frozen" -- that there may be a teaser trailer hitting theaters sometime in June. Which -- I'm betting -- will frustrate Disney animation fans like FuseMP. Mostly because, following the "Frozen" formula,  this "Big Hero 6" teaser trailer will be long on tease and short on substance.

Your thoughts?

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  • I said it before on JHM, and I'll say it again;

    To anyone who says that the marketing for Frozen was badly done, I say BULL. There was clearly a method to what Disney was doing. The early teaser and ads had an emphasis on gags and humor because they didn't want people audiences to think it was a "girly princess film" Ultimately I think that was a good move. It was only in the final trailers and TV spots that it was revealed that there would be songs, thus, a more "traditional"  Disney film.

    (Although anyone who attended the animation presentation at the D23 expo on Aug. 9, 2013, knew that there would be at least two songs; "In Summer" and "Let it Go", the latter performed live for attendees.)

    It's good to have some pleasant surprises when seeing a film. As I recall, Frozen producer Peter Del Vecho had stated that was also an aspect of the marketing.

    And yes, the Frozen teaser was released in June 2013. So I'm sure that Big Hero 6 will follow suit and release a trailer June 2014. (Or possibly May 30 with "Maleficent")

    And there is NOTHING wrong with "long on tease and short on substance" It's good to have some mystery. Big Hero 6 doesn't come out until November. Have some patience people! For some reason we are obsessed with media in America.

  • ...Also, I have to add that every time I saw the Frozen teaser trailer in theaters, the audience loved it. (Also, I apologize for a slight typo in my previous comment)

  • ...I have one final comment here

    Marketing decision or not, I have to say that I think it's more interesting when a film has a symbolic title that has more than one meaning, especially the title "Frozen", which evokes the idea of a frozen relationship between sisters as well as the frozen heart, and of course, the literal sense of the word.

  • Analyzing a marketing campaign is difficult. Having read this article, I'm not convinced either way. Simply, the movie is quite good and the title of the movie is not a factor either way. It's not like Disney doesn't have successes with their princess movies. In fact, I argue that Disney's fairy tale and princess movies have quite the reputation. It is a mistake to try to market a movie in different way and think the public won't know. Frozen is every bit a Disney princess movie. In reviewing Princess and the Frog, I felt it underperformed because the story didn't resonate with the public. The music was spectacular, but the story about a woman (not girl) who wants to open up her own restaurant was a bit heavy handed in the messaging, and it denigrated royalty, which was a mistake. Tiana ended up being a princess in title only, with no kingdom unless you want to count New Orleans as a kingdom, and her prince is really a dud of a frog with no money of his own.

    Tangled done much better ($591M), Brave did slightly worse ($539M), Princess and the Frog did half that amount ($267M).

  • Highest grossing Disney film ever....yet the theme parks sit stagnant (especially in Florida) due to budget cuts.  Nice.

  • Can we call a spade a spade? Sexism drove this marketing. The movie is without a doubt a girly princess film that features much less of Olaf than the trailers and posters and most infuriatingly, the Blu-ray box art released months later (Can you defend the Blu-ray box art?), will have you believe. The fact that it was a full blown Broadway-esque musical was hidden until a month before the release of the movie. So that boys can be assured that this movie had none of that icky girly princess stuff. The movie doesn't exclude anyone, so why does the marketing exclude girls, the most important characters in this film? Market Olaf, by all means, but why is he front and center on the poster? It's disingenuous of Disney to pat itself on the back for making a feminist movie with one hand while slapping its female audience in the face with the other. We can make all the excuses but it comes down to this: Disney would rather have all the money by telling girls that they aren't as important as the boys, than lose some of the money and show good faith to the directors and writers and animators who worked so hard on this film as well as the female audience. In that respect, they are the anti-Laika, who have made the calculation to lose right wing viewers in favor of depicting gay parents in the Box Trolls trailers.

    There's a question that needs to be answered: Is a debatably* effective marketing campaign worth continuing if it perpetuates the inequality in the way films are made and marketed and continues the myth that movies aimed at women are more likely to be financial losses**? More importantly, I put the question to any fan of Disney: Should you continue defending this practice?

    I've decided no, as a fan of Disney, I am going to condemn them for making me and other women feel like a second class audience member. I am going to point to Maleficent as a marketing campaign by the same company that is so much better than the marketing campaign for Frozen.

    * Debatable because I don't think Trailer 1 and Trailer 2 or the Olaf-centric posters or the really niche D23 presentations (Fred, you were really grasping at straws with this one) were what sold this movie to the mass audience. The mass audience went because Let It Go is so beloved and because of word of mouth and because of Rotten Tomato reviews. Only one of this is due to the marketing team.

    **I consider it a myth because the Hunger Games and Twilight movies and the Heat have shown that films marketed at women don't need boys to do very well financially and demonstrate how very little financial risk there is for marketing Frozen as a female-centric musical. For that matter, any one who thinks a female-centric musical is not boy-friendly needs to dig deep and ask him/herself if he/she isn't being a knee-jerk jerk. For an analysis which compares the marketing of Hunger Games: Catching Fire vs Frozen vs The Heat: harvardpolitics.com/.../judging-movie-trailer

  • Thank you, Michelle. My thoughts exactly. Let's think if this situation were reversed: Transformers debuts, and the studios go out of there way to cater to women: highlighting the romance, the handsome leading men, the emotional undercurrents of the story. Can you imagine this ever happening with a major motion picture? Absurd. "Men's" movies get to be men's movies, plain and simple, and women's movies get to masquerade as men's movies.

    This kind of marketing tells women and girls, "We take your business for granted and for the sake of insecure college boys, we will do everything we can to avoid being associated with you (even though we depend on your business)".

  • "Debatable because I don't think Trailer 1 and Trailer 2 or the Olaf-centric posters or the really niche D23 presentations (Fred, you were really grasping at straws with this one) were what sold this movie to the mass audience. The mass audience went because Let It Go is so beloved and because of word of mouth and because of Rotten Tomato reviews. Only one of this is due to the marketing team"

    OF COURSE word of mouth helped the movie. (Did I ever say that it didn't?) Word of mouth always helps (or hurts) a movie.

    And how do you think most people *first* heard about "Let It Go"? Because all of the usual online film bloggers reported about Idina Menzel's performance of the song from the expo presentation (There was even press B-roll footage of it all over YouTube for all of the people who didn't attend the presentation to see) To that end, it was not niche at all. I was hardly grasping at straws.

    Like I said, every time I saw the teaser trailer in theaters, everyone in the theater loved it. That got people's interest to start with, and that counts as "selling."

    A teaser trailer is supposed to, well, "tease" and arouse curiosity and interest. They often feature irreverent gags and comedy that are not in the actual film (Pixar has been doing this ever since "A Bug's Life").

    And I am not "defending" anything, I'm just saying that the series of trailers and TV spots (and even Expo word of mouth) were effective in getting the job done of reaching out to everyone and getting people interested.

    (By the way, I know personally of people who NEVER read online reviews, some people don't like being "told" what they should and should not like, so they avoid reviews like the plague.)

    Since it was mentioned, I see nothing wrong with the Blu-ray cover art. (I'm looking at it now) Elsa is the most prominent, powerful character on the cover, and it features all of the important main characters, as it should. Olaf is not merely just comic relief, he played an important role, especially in the film's third act.

    At any rate, I am looking forward to seeing the teaser trailer for Big Hero 6, should be very interesting.

    (Oh, and Jim, when I was at the expo, I got one of those nifty "San Fransokyo" postcards too. Those character silhouettes--which were also featured at the Disney Animation pavilion--are a really great tease.)

  • Wow, that's more fame than I probably get from doing podcasts.

    It wasn't so much the teaser trailer I took offense to than the first proper trailer; I accepted the teaser for what it was. The main trailer didn't mention Elsa or Anna by name, features something like 12 seconds of Elsa in a 2 minute trailer and referred to Anna as "No Man". I did an entire episode of IMDO Podcast ripping that trailer apart counting the seconds and words of each character spent on screen; Olaf and the cheap gags dominated of course.

    I am very happy that Frozen became what it became, but it became it because of the quality of the actual movie, word of mouth, let it go going viral and that there was no competition for several months to provide a different xmas holiday alternative. Remember when Tangled came out and we all said "ignore the trailer, it doesn't do the film justice"; this is exactly the same, the trailer didn't do the film justice; it felt like WDAS was trying to say, "look its a funny snowman, its like a minion, come laugh at this action comedy". Olaf in the move Olaf is great, but pretty much ALL of Olafs gags from the entire movie were condensed into the 2min trailer to the point where it made him obnoxious and completely drowned out the princess characters or the beautiful real film Frozen is.

    A marketing campaign isn't done to get people to the theater on week 6 or 10, it is to get them there for opening weekend and hopefully minimize the drop off for the following weeks. Frozen's opening in the USA or the UK (where I am) was unspectacular; it was up a little bit from Tangled and Wreck It Ralph but lower than MU and DM2. If it had followed a standard drop off from that point it would have finished up around $600m worldwide if that.

    It wasn't until the Let It Go sequence was released that everything took a serious upturn and the success of the movie truly started; whoever's idea it was to release that should be getting a big bonus because that was the first time that WDAS publicized the actual movie for what it truley is and voiila. I am truley glad Frozen became what it became, I just don't think WDAS Marketing can take any of the credit for it; they could have saved a fortune, done nothing and just released Let it Go to the internet; the rest was a waste of time; and especially here in the UK, physical advertising was pretty much non existent with no tie ins, I didn't see a single poster for the movie and I work in the middle of London where I see posters for every other animated movie (except the Disney ones).

    Despicable Me 2's marketing campaign added to that film's box office; no way did that movie deserve to make $970m world wide. Frozen's didn't and I truly believe almost hindered it if the film hadn't outshone its shoddy marketing and broken free of it in week 4 to become the success it did. Frozen was a success despite its marketing, not because of it.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: "Shoddy marketing" ? Really? As I stated repeatedly in the above article, Disney "Frozen" is now the highest grossing animated film (going from its worldwide gross, rather than its domestic ticket sales) of all time. And it's still going overseas. This film is one of those once-in-a-lifetime money-making machines that studio heads dream about, that connected with audiences worldwide in a big, big way ... And you're still going to insist that that happened in spite of "Frozen" 's marketing campaign, rather than because of it?

    Let me guess, FuseMP: You were dropped a lot as a child, weren't you? Or maybe liked to ride your bike without wearing a helmet. Because -- based on your take on how "Frozen" supposedly really connected with audiences -- there has to a severe head injury somewhere in your past. Maybe even two. No one -- all on their own -- could have ever come to the conclusion that Disney "Frozen" became this huge international box office success just because of "Let It Go" ?

    I mean, you do understand that the reason that that song from "Frozen" got popular was because Disney promoted it, right? That that "viral" thing didn't happen all on its own. That there were dozens of publicists at Disney working behind-the-scenes to initially help get the word out about the film's soundtrack. And that -- over 2 1/2 years ago now  -- that song was identified as the break-out hit single from the soundtrack. Which is why Demi Lovato recorded it for the North American territories, May J did the same for Japan, Hylon for South Korea.

    What you're pretending was this spontaneous phenomenon was actually something that was planned out with the exacting precision of the invasion of Normandy. Don't believe me? Then go check out "Let It Go: The Complete Set," which Walt Disney Records released just last week. This recording features all 41 versions of "Let It Go" that were prepped for the foreign language versions of "Frozen" plus nine of the end credits version of this same Kristen Anderson & Bobby Lopez song.

    Look, I realize that a lot of animation fans don't like to think of these movies as products that major media corporations have to first promote and then leverage across multiple delivery platforms in order to recover their initial production costs and then (hopefully) eventually turn a profit on these projects. But that is indeed what happened with Disney "Frozen" and Fox / Blue Sky Studios' "Rio 2." And that very same sort of effort is now well underway with DreamWorks Animation's "How to Train Your Dragon 2."

    Long story short: The sooner you learn that the most important word in the phrase "Show Business" is "Business," the easier it will be for you to understand how these major media corporations puts months & months & months of careful time, effort and thought into mapping out multi-part media campaigns for films like "Frozen."

  • One minor correction.  You have  $1,129.2 billion, when it's actually $1.1292 Billion or  $1,129.2 million.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: Okay, that issue has now been addressed in yesterday's article. Though, to be perfectly blunt here, given that I pulled that info from Box Office Mojo and then cross-checked with Disney Studios' own financial reports, and given that -- in both cases -- "Frozen" 's worldwide box office totals were listed just as I reproduced them in yesterday's article ... There seems to be some legitimate disagreement about how to properly list a movie's box office total after it's sold over a billion dollars worth of tickets. Especially in these situations like with "Iron Man 3" or "Frozen" where -- once this movie has actually blown through the billion barrier -- it then hangs on theaters for weeks or months earning an addition $100, $200 or even $300 million dollars.

    This just isn't a topic that the AP Style Guide or even Strunk & White's "Elements of Style" covers. Hopefully, at some point, someone works on the financial side of entertainment news will come up with a definitive way to handle how to properly report the box office totals of a film that's earned over a billion dollars and is still out there selling tickets.

  • I certainly do not think anyone "connected" with Frozen due to the 2.30m trailer as posted in this article; this trailer was terrible and did nothing to sell the movie. Lets forget how many boys weren't turned off by this trailer because it was too princess-y and think about how many girls weren't turned on by this trailer because it forgot to mention there were two princesses in it to begin with; and to not even name them and only name Olaf? how are little girls supposed to ask for the dress for the upcoming movie when a) they only see Elsa's for a matter of seconds and b) they can't even say "I want Anna/Elsa's dress" because they dont know their names; "oh mommy, have you seen the Frozen trailer, I wanna be like No Man".

    Market to all quadrants, sure. But not at the expense of alienating and ignoring what is still the core quadrant for this movie. Stop worrying about the hardest to get market and copying Dreamworks gag techniques and just tell and prove to the people that Disney is making world class animated musical classics again to the quality you expect and want, and the people will come because they know whoever they are, male/female, young/teenage/old that it will be enjoyable pretty much no matter the subject of the movie itself. A Disney animated classic to the right and proper standard transcends all audiences; always has and always will.

    Yes of course, it took some work to release Let It Go virally, but I honestly think that came as a last ditch attempt to gain some face time or it would have been done before it did and not in its 3rd week of release. And as for the Demi Levato version, I may be a bit removed from this being in the UK, but as far as I am aware, the "pop" version of the song made a mere dent compared to the proper version as sung by the amazing Idina Menzel who's version should have always been the one pushed.

    I just cannot see where apart from the release of Let it Go the Frozen campaign encouraged people to see it. All the wonderful things I could say about Frozen, none of them are represented in the trailers or posters. Yes, its the biggest animated movie of all time (if you ignore inflation) and that doesn't happen by accident, I get that; although lets not also forget how much of that came from South Korea which no-one could have expected and Japan is eating it up a storm as well. BUT if the marketing for this movie was decent as you suggest I am wrong, why are it's opening weeks so small for a movie that went on to make the money it did? If you look at all the other movies in the Top 10 of all time at which Frozen now sits No.6, they all debuted with first weeks of well over $100m, Frozen's first week was $76 with a decent drops the next 2 weeks until it suddenly (after the release of the Let it Go video) shot back up 56%. Is a marketing campaign's primary objective not to get butts in seat the first 2 weeks? How many marketing campaigns are thinking "if we do this and that then sure, weeks 1, 2 and 3 will be ok but as long as nothing else gets released, week 10 will be near record setting"?

    EDITOR'S NOTE: I'm sorry. But at this point, your explanation as to why Disney "Frozen" made over a billion dollars worldwide is making my head hurt. Did the popularity of "Let It Go" and the other songs that Bobby & Kristen wrote for this WDAS production have an impact on this film's box office totals? Sure. But for you to keep reaching back and insisting that "Frozen" 's marketing campaign was a botch, when ... Here. I'm going to pull the introductory paragraph from Cartoon Brew's coverage of "Frozen" 's opening weekend

    (Disney Frozen) mashed every possible box office record for a Disney film this weekend, grossing $67.4 million over the 3-day weekend, and $93.9M over the five-day holiday period. The previous highest opening for a Disney film was last year’s Wreck-It Ralph, which opened with $49M. In 2010, Tangled opened in the same Thanksgiving holiday timeframe with a $48.8M weekend, and $68.7M five-day holiday.

    Okay. Now tell me again -- after looking at those numbers -- that every person in North America who saw the exact same 2-minute-and-30-second "Frozen" trailer that you did had the exact same reaction as you. They thought "This trailer is terrible and does nothing to sell that movie. As a direct result, I'm now not going to go to see 'Frozen'."

    You get what I'm saying yet, FuseMP. Here's what you continue to claim (i.e., that "Frozen" 's marketing campaign was a failure) and then there's reality (i.e., the film's record-breaking weekend in North American and now it's over-a-billion-dollars worldwide box office totals). There's such a huge gulf between the story you're still trying to sell and what "Frozen" 's box office numbers prove that ...

    Look, what's the point of continuing to discuss this with you? This is just one of those cases where someone deliberately & continually ignores any facts that won't then support their point of view. Me? I live here in the real world where -- when a movie earns over a billion dollars worldwide -- people don't then automatically think "Wow, someone at that Studio is most surely going to get fired because of the lousy marketing campaign that they put together for that movie."

    So please, FuseMP, in the immortal words of Elsa, "Let it go." Because as you can see by the dozens of JHM readers who are NOT now jumping to your defense in this discussion thread, no one else on this planet believes as you do (i.e., that Disney botched "Frozen" 's marketing campaign).

  • Tangled was the best Disney film that had elements to please both boys and girls.

  • "(Disney Frozen) mashed every possible box office record for a Disney film this weekend" - The key words there are actually "For a Disney film" (which is disheartening to see how far down the pecking order WDAS is considered), it was still lower numbers than both Pixar and Universal numbers in the same year for opening weekends. Just because it beat previous numbers from the same studio, doesn't mean its an undeniable success, it just means it beat previous figures from the same studio and inflation will have contributed to that. Compared to what others were doing in the same market mere months beforehand that opening weekend/week was off the pace.

    EDITOR'S NOTE: "Just because ('Frozen') beat previous numbers from the same studio, doesn't mean it's an undeniable success" ?  Did you actually read this sentence after you typed it? That's like something out of Lewis Carroll. Do you think that there's a studio executive -- or even another reasoning adult -- on this planet that thinks the same way as you do? Where a huge international box office success like Disney "Frozen" could then somehow be perceived as a failure?

    Seriously, FuseMP, let it go. Otherwise you're just wasting my time at this point with your not-based-in-reality take on "Frozen" 's box office take.

  • Jim-

    If I recall correctly, Frozen's box office in its first weeks were disappointing, especially in comparison to the Hunger Games sequel.  Frozen started to catch on after it was out for a few weeks.  This tells me that its success was based on word-of-mouth and repeat customers rather than the initial marketing campaign.

    Steve B.

    EDITOR'S NOTE:  So are you saying that if Disney had put together a different sort of marketing campaign that "Frozen" might then have somehow beaten "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," the eagerly anticipated sequel to 2012's "The Hunger Games" (which made $408 million during its domestic run)? Because I don't think -- given that one film was an action-adventure basically aimed at a young adult / adult audience while the other was an animated muiscal aimed mostly at a family audience but which hoped to be able to convince young adults & adults to eventually come see it -- no matter what sort of campaign Disney put together "Frozen" was ever going to the same sort of domestic numbers that "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" was going to do. Even today,  "Frozen" sits at $399 million while "Catching Fire" is $424 million. Internationally, "Frozen" did over a billion while the "Hunger Games" sequel stalled out at $439 million. Which suggests that Lionsgate needs to work on its international marketing efforts if it's going to get tweens & tweens overseas to keep going back to see Jennifer Lawrence pluck her bow as often as they did here in North America.

  • "Show Business" is "Business,"

    "major media corporations puts months & months & months of careful time, effort and thought into mapping out multi-part media campaigns for films like "Frozen.""

    Indeed, Jim. Thank you for being rational about these things. When it comes to marketing. "You gotta do what you gotta do." Today, competition is fierce. Animation is everywhere.

    It might be worth mentioning that in the weeks leading up to the film's release, clips from "Frozen" were uploaded on Disney Animation's YouTube channel, Like this one;


    After the film was released, several ads were uploaded highlighting the film's emotion and music to get the word out, like this this one;


    At the end of the day, Disney got people to go see Frozen and audiences loved the film because of the characters, the music, and the story.

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