Frozen: The Highest Grossing Animated Film and Why it Matters


The news is in and Disney’s hugely popular animated feature, Frozen, has become the highest grossing animated film of all time. In case you’re unfamiliar, I’ll wait a moment while you ask any random school age child to bring you up to speed. Disney reached the milestone this weekend after Frozen opened in its final market, Japan, bringing its total to $1.072 billion. In total Frozen earned $398.4 million domestically and $674 million internationally.  Quite an accomplishment especially considering it was released in the U.S. just a little over four months ago.

Since then, it has taken the world by storm (ICE storm, if you will). It is the first billion-dollar film from Disney Animation Studios and won two Academy Awards, one for best-animated film and the other for original song. Now we’re the first to admit that Disney films have not always led the way in terms of girl empowerment. Which is why the success of Frozen is all that more groundbreaking. Brave certainly showed Disney that female centered movies that were not "girl meets prince - girls falls in love with prince - prince saves the girl" themed, can not only work but be successful...hugely successful. Frozen obviously took that message further by showing not only can they work and be successful they can break box office records.

4 Reasons Why Frozen Matters

  1. The BoysFrozen’s success is not just telling us that a lot of girls love movies with a female lead. It is telling us EVERYONE likes these female centered movies. You don’t become the top grossing animated film with just girls seeing your movie. I know plenty of boys (even on the older side) who thought Frozen was great and who know the songs just as well as their female counterparts on the playground.
  2. True Love is more than just a "Prince Charming" with a good smile. (spoiler alert) The fact that the love story in this movie is the love two sisters share, and that the true love that saves the day is the true love you share with your family, is a refreshing and valuable message to send to kids.  A good message to send to girls is that a prince isn't going to save the day and a queen doesn't need a king. These ideas may be simple enough, but they've been the storyline for nearly every animated Disney to date. Alternative massages of love and power like the one's in Frozen, prove that the audience is tired of these old damsel in distress stories and ready for ones that are about the power of all kinds of love. 
  3. Good and Bad are Not Black and White – (More spoilers) The major plot lines revolve around both Ana needing to be saved from the damage accidentally done by Elsa, and Elsa needing to be saved from herself. This shows that good and bad are not always black and white, and in fact people are complicated with complex motivations behind their behaviors. Showing heroes AND sheheroes as  flawed, and prone to make mistakes, does not necessarily make them bad. And the fact that in the end these characters save each other is what true family and friendship is all about. And once again the fact that this message resonated with so many shows that children love these new messages...and parents are ready to pay for them.
  4. Real Actors Make a Difference – It was such a refreshing change to see Disney opt for some stellar Broadway talent such as Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad, Kirsten Bell and more, instead of flavor-of-the week Disney pop stars. Invest in real talent and the viewers respond!

 Now a lot of these things could have also been said about Brave as well, but as successful as Brave was, it didn’t reach the level of success that Frozen has, which is where the true difference is.  When a movie like Frozen sees such huge success it changes the game for everyone making movies, music, social media and TV for children. It means that when Disney and others movie companies go to work on their next big holiday or summer blockbuster they will remember to make movies that cater to the need for true storytelling, empowered female characters, and gender equality the audience will come.  Again and again.

And yes, one movie does not erase an entire history of movies lacking gender equality and good female representation in movies, and yes, the conversation on racial equality in children's movies has begun. So, is Frozen changing the world? No. But for those of us looking for better standards and messages for our SheHeroes and Heroes in movies, it’s certainly a start, certainly something worth celebrating and it quite certainly matters.


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