Welcome to the Third Great Age of Animated Musicals … and 10 Things You Never Knew About FROZEN

"Let It Go" from Disney's FROZEN
“Let It Go” from Disney’s FROZEN

Funny how sometimes companies need to re-learn their own lessons. As I ponder the massive popularity of FROZEN, I can’t help but shake my head and wonder “What took Disney so long?”

Back in 1989, Disney Animation was moribund. The 1980s had not been kind to the studio, which had only released 5 features, all of them critical and commercial failures. One of them — the infamous THE BLACK CAULDRON — nearly bankrupted the studio and ended the careers of many animators.

Along came THE LITTLE MERMAID, which burst onto the scene as an animated musical, and literally and figuratively turned around the fortunes of the Disney Animation. It was a masterpiece of love and longing, and it introduced great new characters to the Disney lexicon. Disney had found its feet … and it followed up with the even bigger hits BEAUTY AND THE BEAST (1991) and ALADDIN (1992) and then reached some kind of crazy pop culture crescendo with the megahit THE LION KING (1994). Some lesser musicals followed, including the well-loved POCAHONTAS (1995) and THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME (1996); but suddenly Disney seemed to have lost its way, and the Second Great Age of Animated Musicals suddenly came to an end with TARZAN in 1999 which was a movie *with* music, not a musical.

And so, for the last 15 years we’ve missed the Animated Musical — like Silent Movies, it was an art form that seemed to have disappeared. And then along came FROZEN. Bravo Disney for re-discovering your mojo, and here’s looking forward to a Third Great Age of Animated Musicals.

For all you FROZEN fanatics our there, here are some fun facts about the movie:

First Female Director: “Frozen” has two strong female characters as leads and a strong woman behind the camera. At the helm was Jennifer Lee, the first female director of a full-length Walt Disney animated film. She also wrote the screenplay for both “Frozen” and “Wreck-it Ralph.”

“Tangled” Audition: Sometimes not getting the part can pay off in the end. Both Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell, who play Elsa and Anna, auditioned for the role of Rapunzel in the 2010 Disney fairytale “Tangled.” In the case of Idina Menzel, a casting director had recorded her audition, which later helped her get the role of Elsa.

Snow, Snow, Snow:  Many details went into every part of the film. For the snow alone, a snow-generating software created 2,000 different kinds of snow. The team consulted a group of experts from CalTech to study the effects of snow and ice in order to create a more realistic snow and ice landscape.

Hair, Hair, HairIn the film, “Tangled,” Rapunzel had 27,000 strands of hair. If you think that was a lot, then you’re in for a big surprise! Just for Anna alone, the animators used 420,000 strands of hair. That is 4.2 times more hair than what you would find on a human head.

Developed New Software: In order to cope with the film’s complexity, the team developed multiple new softwares, each for a specific purpose. Tonic was the new software that created Anna and Elsa’s hair, while Flourish was utilized for the characters’ clothing. The new software captures the texture, movement, and stretch of different types of textiles.

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