Doesn’t it seem odd that Disney, a studio that’s spent decades fashioning its brand around princesses and happily ever afters, is now glossing over that vital fact in the latest trailer for their upcoming animated film, Frozen?
If Frozen was released during the Disney Renaissance, perhaps, but we’ve learned so much from the marketing strategy behind 2010’s Tangled. Tangled is Disney’s highest-grossing non-Pixar film since The Lion King in 1994, grossing over $200 million domestically. Why? Because Tangled just doesn’t exclusively appeal to a niche young female demographic. It’s just as much Rapunzel’s movie as it is Flynn Rider’s.
Disney blatantly sets up Frozen as a road trip movie centered around mountain man, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and noble tomboy Anna (Kristen Bell) in search of Anna’s sister who goes into hiding after sending the city (not kingdom) of Arendelle into a blistering tundra. Not once is Anna referred to as a princess nor her sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) as Queen of Arendelle. The visuals subtly connect the dots, but it’s overshadowed by a comedic snowman and contemporary music.
Kristoff and Anna already display some entertaining chemistry. Princess Anna stretches her feet on the mountain man’s sled only to be asked if she was raised in a barn. So much for the stereotypical prim and proper princess of Disney lore. For the little we see of Elsa, she fits that bill, but her character hints at her being a tragic character having cursed her lands. Olaf the Snowman (Josh Gad), who was featured in a comedic teaser trailer, still provides a few chuckles and looks to be a favorite for younger audiences. How adult perceive him will be completely different however.
There’s no easier way to describe Frozen based off of this trailer than “Tangled in winter.”
Audiences familiar with The Snow Queen fairy tale may take offense to the lighthearted nature in which the film was adapted, but all this goes directly back to the marketing. Back in 2009, Disney’s The Princess and the Frog went back to the studio’s roots of hand-drawn animation and a classic princess yarn, but only pulled in $104 million domestically.
The word “princess” narrowed the Frog’s audience to mostly females. And even when Tangled was released, the title went through several changes from Rapunzel to Rapunzel Unbraided to finally a gender-neutral Tangled.
Disney is certainly holding back many of their “princess cards,” but the trailer for Frozen makes the film out to be a wild holiday ride for all types of moviegoers. Frozen arrives in theaters on November 27.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Matt Marshall is a YouTube movie reviewer who hosts MNMreviews. He has a B.A. in Communications/Journalism from St. John Fisher College and resides in Rochester, NY.