I’ll admit it’s rather late for me to be reviewing Frozen. I wasn’t interested in it at first. However its success at the box office coupled with its Oscar buzz helped me change my mind.
Normally I’d give a description of the film in my reviews but I won’t here since most of you have already seen Frozen by now. I’ll just go in to what I have to say. There are a lot of unique and great aspects of this movie. First is its unexpected twists. You’d first think it would be Kristoff that would save Elsa, Anna and the kingdom but it turns out to be Elsa. Already there are a lot of writers and bloggers comparing Elsa to Merida in Brave in terms of heroine status. I’ll bet you never thought Kristoff would be one of the bad guys. Second is its animation that truly mesmerizes. I was dazzled when I saw Elsa’s snow-spell and even the ‘ Castle Of Ice’ created on screen. Watching Frozen was like being taken to a world of ice at times.
Thirdly is the musical aspect of the movie. For many decades, even as close to about twenty years ago, animated movies were commonly musicals and excelled in telling the stories with catchy songs. From Someday My Prince Will Come in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs to Hakuna Matata in The Lion King, you could always rely on an animated feature to deliver charming music. When 3D became the staple of animated features, the features were predominantly non-musicals and the movies were more focused on the story and the animation. When was the last animated feature done as a musical that dazzled you? Yeah, that far back. Frozen is the first 3D animated musical that has won the movie-going public by storm. It’s refreshing to see the musical aspect come back in animated movies and even added to 3D animated movies successfully for the first time. I think the success of Frozen will churn out more musical-styled 3D animation features.
Frozen is a welcome relief in terms of animated movies for 2013. This year was a rather quiet year in terms of animated movies. Sure this summer featured the excitement of the comeback of the monsters of Monsters University and Despicable Me 2 took ‘minion mania’ to new heights but there was nothing new to create new buzz. Nor was there anything with writing that stood out. I’m sure that became apparent to a lot of my subscribers when I published my blog about Pixar appearing to have lost its spark. Frozen may have come late in 2013 but it sure came to the rescue. Its excellence is not just in having a thrilling story but also in having excellent animation.
Also Frozen has a bonus aspect: catchy songs. It’s not just something that’s been missing from animated movies but movies in general since the new century. You may remember before the 2000’s came there were many catchy songs that came from movies. Since 2000, the presence of a catchy song or even a hit song from a movie is something that has been very rare. I think the last hit song from a movie before Frozen was Slumdog Millionaire’s Jai Ho. I was especially surprised during 2006 when Dreamgirls was in theatres, none of the songs were released as singles despite Beyonce’s chart-topping prowess at the time. I know most of North America was in a hip-hop coma at the time but still… Frozen helped bring back the catchiness of movie music. Already two versions of Let It Go are on the charts right now: Idina Menzel’s version is currently #18 on the Hot 100 and Demi Lovato’s version is at #56 having peaked at 38. Recently Do You Want To Build A Snowman? started hitting the charts and is now at #57. I guess it’s no wonder that the movie has been re-released in a sing-along version.
It’s hard to pick who first to compliment. First off, I’ll say the animation was top notch. The Walt Disney Animation Studios did an excellent job in creating a charming trip to the past and a mesmerizing world of ice. Secondly, kudos should go to Christophe Beck and Kristin Anderson-Lopez for providing music that was not only entertaining but the catchiest movie music in years. Thirdly a great job in the acting and singling by both Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel. They’re already established actors and they’ve also had musical experience but this has to be the best combined singing/acting efforts from both of them. The supporting actors were also great in their roles too including Jonathan Groff and Santino Fontana. However it’s Josh Gad that steals the show as the goofy Olaf. Finally great acting/writing efforts from Chris Buck, Jennifer Lee and Shane Morris. It was something to take Hans Christian Andersen’s The Snow Queen and turn it into an animated musical. They really delivered a winner. In fact you remember how Disney movies would give animated adaptations of children’s stories like Snow White, Cinderella, Pinocchio and The Lion King and turn them into beloved classics? I think Frozen is destined to go that same route over time.
Funny thing about Frozen is not just simply its current total success with its box office run but its lack of success when it first started. I’ve noticed on Box Office Mojo that it was only on one single theatre when it opened because it didn’t want to compete with the opening of the latest Hunger Games movie. It got better the following week when it was spread across North America and grossed $67.4 million that weekend but it was still in second to the Hunger Games by $7 million. The funny thing is while most movies came and went during the six weekends since, Frozen stuck around in the Top 3 and was even #1 on two different weekends. It was even #2 the weekend of January 31-February2nd: its eleventh weekend. Okay, the sing-along version release may have something to do with it but it just goes to show its lasting power. In fact it wasn’t until this weekend, its thirteenth, that it finally left the Top 5 and currently sits at #8 with a total gross of over $375 million.
Frozen has been the animated movie both moviegoers and fans of film alike have been waiting for all of 2013. It was definitely worth the wait because it delivers in terms of quality and entertainment value. Maybe I should go back for the sing-along version.
The success of 2013’s box office looked like a big question mark during the first half of the year. Things looked more optimistic during the summer but 2013 all ended on a positive note.
You may remember when I looked at the first six months of 2013, I didn’t think 2012’s record would be broken. The summer of 2013 however provided a big boost to the year with possibly the highest-grossing movie summer ever. Even with all the bad news that made headlines, it showed the good news that was being overlooked. Anyways here’s how the rest of 2013 fared off.
September began with The Butler and We’re The Millers still going strong and a big plus from the teen girls demograph with the One Direction concert movie. Then comes what’s known in the movie year as the September slump. The sizzle of wowing people to the cinemas starts cooling down now that everyone’s done their vacations and heading either back to work or back to school. This September did have attractions to the cinema but it wasn’t as attractive as last year.
The first post-Labor Day weekend in September began with Riddick on top. It was the only big debut that weekend. The following weekend got better with Insidious Chapter 2 opening at $40.3 million: the second-highest September opening weekend ever. The following weekend also had excitement, albeit comparatively tame, with Prisoners on top. The final weekend of September had Cloudy with A Chance Of Meatballs 2 on top with $34 million: the fourth-highest September opening weekend ever. At the end of the month, this September didn’t fare so hot. It’s total of $461.8 million was almost $100 million lower than last September and was the lowest-grossing September since 2004.
Despite September’s let-down, October was a huge pick-me-up. You can thank most of it to a certain movie called Gravity. Right in the first weekend, you knew Gravity would be a major hit as it opened at $55.8 million: the highest-grossing October opening weekend ever. Gravity reigned on top for three weeks despite the challenges of Captain Phillips and the remake of Carrie. It would take Jackass Presents Bad Grandpa to dethrone Gravity from the top spot in the last weekend October 2013. At the end, October 2013 outgrossed October 2012 by about $70 million. So things were getting back on track. This was not however the highest-grossing October ever. 2004 is by miles with $809 million.
November is normally when the box office picks up again and consists of openings and total grosses that can rival the summer. November actually began calmly with good but modest opening weekends for Ender’s Game, Last Vegas and Free Bird. Things got more exciting when Thor: The Dark world opened the following weekend with $85.7 million. It stayed on top for another weekend as the debut of The Best Man Holiday wasn’t enough to dethrone it from the top. However it would be the following weekend that would be buzzing as it would be the opening of The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. It opened with $158.1 million: the sixth-highest opening weekend ever and the highest-ever November opening weekend. Catching Fire continued strongly in the last weekend of November leading into December with a total gross of almost $280 million at the end of November. November 2013 ended with a total gross of $1.398 billion. It was more than $140 million less than November 2012 but it was still enough to be the second-highest November gross ever.
December began not with a strong opening on top but a strong steady growth by Frozen on top. Frozen was actually second to Catching Fire by almost $7 million at the November 30th/December 1st weekend. However a strong steady growth for Frozen that was able to capitalize on Catching Fire’s fade found itself stealing the top spot by $5.5 million. Weak debuts from other movies sure helped that week too. However it was the following weekend that promised excitement as the latest Hobbit movie, The Desolation Of Smaug, was going to debut. A strong debut it was with $73.6 million that weekend–the fourth-highest December opening weekend ever– but it was comparatively paltry to the debut of last year’s Hobbit movie: $11 million shy to be exact. Smaug’s buzz was strong enough even to conquer the buzz of the highly-anticipated opening of Anchorman 2 by $5.5 million. The Christmas weekend of the 27th to the 29th made for a low overall gross that weekend. Weather disasters and catastrophes nationwide had a lot to do with it. That weekend saw the Top 4 movies being previously released movies with only The Wolf Of Wall Street having the strongest opening weekend with a #5 debut. The surprise of it all is that December 2013 only failed to outgross December 2012 but just $4 million. The weather problems didn’t hurt the box office that bad.
The big surprise of the box office was for the whole year. In 2013, there were only four months where its total gross outgrossed the monthly totals of 2012. At the end of it all, the whole year of 2013 was a record-breaking year with a total gross of $10.92 billion. That breaks 2012’s record by almost $85 million, roughly 0.8%. It does seem like a small increase but it just goes to show it’s not completely about spectacular opening numbers. The annual box office is an endurance game too. The year’s record-breaking gross is an optimistic statistic since the box office was constantly feeling the pinch of sites like Netflix and the increasing video game industry. This also makes it the fifth straight year where the total annual gross was more than $10 billion dollars showing that despite its rivalries in the entertainment industry, box office movies still remain a strong and healthy business.
Leading into 2014, there are the questions of whether it will break 2013’s total record and even become the first movie year to gross over $11 billion. I don’t think we should worry about that too much especially knowing that 2001 was the first ever year to break past the $8 billion barrier. Instead let 2014 play itself out and hope that it delivers for everyone.
“Yearly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/yearly/
“Monthly Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/monthly/
“Weekend Box Office Chart” BoxOfficeMojo.com. 2013. Box Office Mojo. Owned by IMDB.com. http://www.boxofficemojo.com/weekend/