Walt Disney Co reported a 12 gain in profit that beat Wall Street expectations,lifted by higher visitor spending at U.S. theme parks, increased consumer product sales and its summer animated movie hit"Monsters University." The media company on Thursday posted diluted earnings pershare of 77 cents for the quarter ended in September, edging the76 cents average estimate of analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Net income for the quarter rose to $1.4billion, a 12 percent gain a year earlier.
Shares of Disney, which have gained nearly 35 percent thisyear, slipped 1.8 percent in after-hours trading to $65.94, downfrom their earlier $67.15 close on the New York Stock Exchange.
Investors reacted negatively to a prediction from DisneyChief Financial Officer Jay Rasulo, on a post-earningsconference call, that capital expenditures will increase by $1billion over 2013, said Needham & Co. analyst Laura Martin. Mostof those funds will go toward increased investment in theShanghai Disney Resort scheduled to open in late 2015, Rasulosaid.
"The company had been saying that the capital expenditureswere going down," said Martin, who rates Disney stock a "hold.""Markets look ahead," he added.
For the just-ended quarter, operating income at Disney'scable network unit, which includes its powerhouse ESPN sportschannel, decreased by 7 percent to $1.3 billion in the quarter,the company said, citing the timing of some ESPN affiliate feerevenue.
Despite taking an undisclosed writedown for its summer flop"The Lone Ranger," Disney's movie studio reported a 35 percentrise in earnings during the quarter, boosted by Pixar prequel"Monsters University." The film generated $743 million inworldwide ticket sales, according to the site Box Office Mojo.
Disney also announced it will release the next installmentin the blockbuster "Star Wars" film franchise on Dec. 18, 2015.
Operating income grew 15 percent to $571 million at Disney'sparks and resorts unit, as visitors increased spending at WaltDisney World in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California.
Disney's Interactive unit turned around in the quarter,earning $16 million after losing $76 million a year ago,partially on sales of its new Disney Infinity console game.The company has sold more than 1 million Infinity starter packs,Chief Executive Bob Iger said.
"All indications suggest the strong demand for DisneyInfinity will continue," Iger said.
At the consumer products unit, operating income rose 30percent to $347 million. The growth was driven by licensing ofproducts tied to films such as "Monsters University" as well asproducts included after last year's acquisition of "Star Wars"producer Lucasfilm.
Iger said Disney was making progress in negotiations withDish Network Corp to carry the company's TV networks,though he said remaining issues "could take some time."
"Right now, the negotiation is more about issues related totechnology," he said.
Iger also said he was not preparing to sell the ABCtelevision stations that Disney owns, as some news outlets havereported. "I don't think it would be wise to either predict orto conclude that these assets are on the market," he said.
Walt Disney Animation Studios has another hit on their hands. Frozen‘s opening weekend box office is the highest in the studio’s history.
Frozen, starring actors Jonathan Groff, Idina Menzel, and Kristen Bell, pulled in $93 million during the five-day Thanksgiving period. Even with Wednesday and Thursday out of the picture, the film still earned $66.7 million for the three-day weekend, making it the best opener for Walt Disney Animation ever.
The previous record holder for the studio was last year’s Wreck-it Ralph, which made $49 million. In third is 2011′s Tangled ($48.7 million) and in fourth is 2010′s Bolt ($26.2 million).
It’s worth noting that Frozen hit theaters the weekend after The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and was actually second place at the box office, but that didn’t stop it from setting a record.
Disney's 3-D animated summer movie "Planes"
appears to have some lift as a home entertainment title, soaring to the top of Rentrak's DVD and Blu-ray sales chart in its first week in release.
Featuring the voice of comedian Dane Cook
, the "Cars" spinoff beat Warner Bros.
' R-rated comedy "We're the Millers,"
which made more money than "Planes" at the box office. The Disney movie generated $90.2 million in domestic ticket sales, while "We're the Millers," starring Jason Sudeikis
and Jennifer Aniston
, took in $150 million during its run.
Taking third place on the DVD/Blu-ray chart was another newcomer, "2 Guns,"
the action comedy with Denzel Washington
and Mark Wahlberg
as a pair of undercover agents. The trio of new releases knocked last week's No. 1
, "Man of Steel," down to fourth place.
Also debuting on retail shelves was the boozy sci-fi comedy "The World's End,"
directed by Edgar Wright
and starring Simon Pegg
and Nick Frost. It came in at No. 7. "The Heat,"
a buddy cop comedy with Sandra Bullock
and Melissa McCarthy
, was the top rental in its sixth week on the market.
Here are Rentrak's rankings for the week that ended Nov. 23 for sales and Nov. 24 for rentals. Top 10 DVD and Blu-ray sales
1. "Planes" (Disney). Week 1.
2. "We’re the Millers" (Warner Bros.). Week 1.
3. "2 Guns" (Universal). Week 1.
4. "Man of Steel" (Warner Bros.). Week 2.
5. "Turbo" (Fox). Week 2.
6. "Monsters University" (Disney). Week 4.
7. "The World’s End" (Universal). Week 1.
8. "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey"
(Warner Bros.). Week 36.
9. "Grown Ups 2" (Sony
). Week 3.
10. "The Heat" (Fox). Week 6. Top 10 DVD and Blu-ray rentals
1. "The Heat" (Fox). Week 6.
2. "Grown Ups 2" (Sony). Week 3.
3. "White House Down" (Sony). Week 3.
4. "Pacific Rim" (Warner Bros.). Week 6.
5. "The Internship" (Fox). Week 5.
6. "The Hangover
Part III" (Warner Bros.). Week 7.
7. "The Conjuring"
(New Line Cinema). Week 5.
8. "Monsters University" (Buena Vista). Week 4.
9. "The Croods" (Fox). Week 8.
10. "The Purge" (Universal). Week 7.
players now have access to five new Toy Boxes, including two inspired by Toy Story, Disney Interactive recently announced.
In the Toy Story Claw box, based off the movie's claw crane game, players must find 10 aliens and return them to their ship. The Toy Story Racer box, meanwhile, is a space-themed racetrack.
Other new boxes add a race track inspired by Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, a box for players to solve puzzles and a sequel to the original Sky Gauntlet Toy Box.
New boxes can be downloaded by selecting Toy Box from the game's main menu. Watch the trailer below for a look at all five boxes.
Disney recently announced
that characters from movies such as Tangled
and Wreck-It Ralph
will be available this holiday. According to the game's executive producer, Disney princesses were among the "top requests
" for character additions.
"Frozen," Walt Disney Animation's adventure tale of two sisters trying to put an end to their kingdom's endless winter, is on track to break a box office record for the studio this weekend.
The critically acclaimed film has already made history in a different way -- as the first feature from Disney Animation with a female director.
Jennifer Lee shares directing credit on the movie with Chris Buck.
Since the studio's earliest days, women have played key roles at Disney, initially in the Ink and Paint Department, where their small hands were considered better suited to the delicate work.
Over the decades female artists including Mary Blair, Bianca Majolie and Retta Scott made their mark at the studio
, according to Paula Sigman Lowery, who worked as an archivist there.
But there was still a ceiling on their contributions characteristic of the era in which they lived.
All of which makes a speech Walt Disney gave to his employees at the studio in 1941 that much more surprising. Disney told his male animators, who were currently drawing "Dumbo,"
to expect to see more women working at the studio, according to Sigman Lowery.
“If a woman can do the work as well, she is worth as much as a man,” Disney said, according to studio archives. “The girl artists have the right to expect the same chances for advancement as men, and I honestly believe they may eventually contribute something to this business that men never would or could.”
Many of Disney's animators had been drafted to fight in World War II, and the large new Burbank studio was months from becoming a union shop.
"His point was that he was not bringing women into animation to take away men's jobs at a lower rate, which was what there was some concern about," Sigman Lowery said. "So here is Walt Disney very early on saying this is art done by artists, whether men or women. I like to point this out because people have a mistaken impression that animation at Disney was always a man's world."
Julie Bruce's 5-year-old son smiled when he saw Santa Claus at Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
That's not unusual for most kids, but for Bradan Allemand, it's a big deal, his mom said.
As St. Nick sang “Jingle Bells,” “he'll light up,” Bruce said. “His eyes were wide open, and he was laughing out loud. It was like a dream. It didn't feel real.”
Bradan, who lives in Raceland, lacks a critical enzyme in his brain, and that leads to frequent seizures and mental impairment. He can't speak or walk. He is confined to a wheelchair.
But with some help from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Bradan got to go on the trip of a lifetime from Nov. 13-18. He met some very important people, including Disney princesses and characters.
Usually shy around strangers, the little boy opened up at the park.
“He was cracking up laughing,” his mother said. “Around strangers I've never seen him like that.”
He was throwing his hands in the air and playing along with his new friends.
“It brought tears to my eyes to see him like that,” she said.
Bradan has been sick his whole life, but was only diagnosed with his rare disease when he was 2 years old, Bruce said. Not much is known about the ailment because so few people have it — only about 600 people in the world.
“They can't even tell me if there's a life expectancy,” she said. “They don't know.”
With rehabilitation, the little boy has improved.
Thanks to therapy, he can roll over and bring his hands together but not actually clap them.
At the Disney park, he enjoyed the Animal Kingdom and riding small roller coasters.
“We just give thanks to Make-A-Wish for giving us this opportunity,” Bruce said. “None of us are guaranteed tomorrow.”
Walt Disney Co.
Chief Executive Bob Iger was honored with the UCLA
Anderson School of Management John Wooden Global Leadership Award during an evening that celebrated impressive records.
At the UCLA gala Thursday night at the Beverly Hilton, Iger's won-loss record was compared to that of the legendary UCLA basketball coach, who posted a 620-147 record in his 27 years at the helm.
Since Iger took the reins of the Burbank entertainment giant in 2005, the value of Disney's stock has tripled. And the company has positioned itself for the future with key acquisitions.
Disney has spent nearly $15 billion to buy three major brands: Pixar Animation Studios
, Marvel Entertainment
and, most recently, Lucas Films. The purchases have transformed the company, which this week marked the 85th birthday of Mickey Mouse.
"We're not supposed to reveal his age, as he is supposed to be ageless," Iger said. "But Mickey turned 85 on Monday."
Teamwork, hard work and the pursuit of perfection -- hallmarks of Wooden's philosophy -- are guiding principals for the entertainment chief, who famously rises at 4:30 a.m. each day to exercise and process his thoughts before the demands of the day take hold.
Iger's ability to exceed expectations was a central theme.
This summer, Iger agreed to remain chief executive
15 months longer than initially planned, until June 2016. The Disney board indicated it was not prepared to lose Iger and needed more time to identify a successor.
Thursday night's audience was delighted by a retelling of one of Iger's favorite stories: how, at age 22, a supervisor at ABC
television in New York told him that he was "not promotable."
Iger, who started his career as a TV weatherman, was told he would have to find another job within the company -- or leave.
"That man is no longer around, but I wish he would have lasted long enough to see my success," Iger said during a question-and-answer session with ABC News correspondent Cecilia Vega.
"I was told many years later the same thing [not being fit for promotion] but that's another story," Iger said, alluding to an infamous remark allegedly uttered by his predecessor, Michael Eisner
, when Iger served as Eisner's lieutenant and second-in-command at the company.
The subject of risk-taking and risk adversion was also explored, with Iger acknowledging that it can be difficult for a huge company to take huge risks -- because so much is at stake.
"With size and scale comes bureaucracy," Iger said. "But you have to work at not allowing success to get in the way of creating more of it."
He acknowledged one embarrassing mistake made while running ABC Entertainment back in the early 1990s: ordering a prime-time musical about police detectives called "Cop Rock," which lasted just 11 weeks.
The crowd roared in delight.
"This was way before 'Smash,' " Iger said, a poke at rival NBC's costly flop last year about the making of a Broadway musical.
Iger accepted the leadership award from UCLA Anderson School of Management Dean Judy Olian to wrap up the evening. A larger-than-life statue of Wooden was prominently positioned on stage.
"I hope that you understand and realize how humbling this is to be included in the same line, on the same night and on the same stage as John Wooden," Iger told the audience. "Just imagine how the world would be better if we all did it the Wooden way."
Walt Disney Pictures
' computer-animated 3-D musical “Frozen” likely won’t topple “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” at the holiday box office, but the fairy tale is already drawing big numbers, according to early estimates.
On Wednesday alone, “Frozen” took in more than $15 million. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” the film could take in as much as $70 million over five days in its first weekend in wide release, The Times earlier reported
. The tale of two princess sisters, voiced by Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, was introduced last weekend at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood.
“Frozen” is ahead of the pace set by Disney’s 2010 animated release “Tangled,” which also debuted on Thanksgiving eve. “Tangled” drew more than $11 million on its opening day and brought in a total of $68.7 million for the weekend.
“Frozen” has opened to strong reviews and currently has an 85% “fresh” rating on the critic aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes. “With a cool, contemporary spin on a fairy-tale classic, a dramatic Nordic landscape animated in splendid storybook style and Broadway vets belting out power ballads, ‘Frozen’ is an icy blast of fun from the very first flake,” the Times’ Betsy Sharkey wrote in her review
Still, the dominating force at the box office this Thanksgiving will be Lionsgate’s sequel to “The Hunger Games.” The film, starring Jennifer Lawrence
and directed by Francis Lawrence
, brought in another $20.7 million on Wednesday. In less than one week of domestic release, “Catching Fire” has accrued $207 million.
There’s no place like home … there’s no place like home.If you ever doubted that axiom, just review the life and times of Chicago-born Walt Disney, who, like Dorothy Gale, traveled over the rainbow, but never let go of his Midwestern moorings.
Giving us insight into the connection is a new exhibit packing ’em in like 100,000,001 Dalmatians at his hometown’s Museum of Science and Industry.
“Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives,” which opened a month ago and continues through May 4, celebrates the 90th anniversary of the Disney company’s 1923 founding by taking visitors on a instructive journey through Uncle Walt’s life and times.
The big lure for Disneyphiles is its generous dip into the archives, from whence comes the exhibit’s eclectic array of movie costumes and props, classic animation artwork, scripts, office items, film clips and more.
Through them, Disney’s debt to his Midwestern origins shine through, notes Jeff Buonomo, manager of temporary exhibits and events at the museum.
“A lot of those Midwestern roots can be seen later in his work, from the main streets in the theme parks to the small-town settings of his films,” he notes.
Even his animated and live-action cities, like the Londons of “Mary Poppins,” “Peter Pan” and “101 Dalmatians,” are either set in storybook pasts or rendered quaintly charming for the present.
“Lady and the Tramp’s” small-town ambience, lovingly created for the 1955 animated classic, is said to be taken straight from Walt’s youth.
All of that connectivity is apparent as the “Treasures” are unearthed before our eyes, says Buonomo.
Though he was born in Chicago, most of Walt’s upbringing transpired on a farm near Marceline, Mo., where he and his four siblings came of age.
The family eventually returned to the Windy City in 1917, when Walt was a teen. There, he attended McKinley High School by day and the Academy of Fine Arts by night, honing his fast-maturing drawing skills.
Following an ambulance-driving stint during World War I, 19-year-old Walt landed in Dorothy Gale’s Kansas, where he created and marketed his first original animated cartoons and perfected a new method for combining live-action and animation.
By 1923, he was over the rainbow in Hollywood, where he and brother Roy pooled their resources to form Walt Disney Productions.
From that formative stretch, “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives” offers actual illustrations done by Disney as a boy (a postcard sketch, a doodle in his sister’s original school book), various photos of the family homestead and items tied to his first animation studio venture, called Laugh-O-Gram Films Inc.
Following that introductory portion, “The Early Years,” the visitor journeys through seven themed areas, not unlike a Disney park:
w “Early Hollywood,” which covers the years 1923-37, from Disney’s creation of Mickey Mouse in “Steamboat Willie” to the premiere of “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” the first feature-length animated film.
w “Animation Tools & Techniques,” a look at the art form that Disney helped pioneer and elevate via classics like “Pincocchio,” “Bambi” and “Fantasia.”
w “Walt: Showman of the World,” which follows Walt’s late-1940s expansion into new media frontiers, from early television (“Davy Crockett”) to live-action moviemaking (“20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”).
w “Mary Poppins,” a section devoted to the Oscar-winning film generally conceded to be the summation of Disney’s art and his greatest success.
w “Theme Parks,” the inevitable salute to the Disney empire’s biggest cash cows, from the original Disneyland in California to its even bigger and grander successors elsewhere.
w “Disney Today,” a nod to the current state of Walt’s affairs, nearly 47 years after his 1967 death, including the “Pirates of the Caribbean” franchise, the Disney Channel universe of “High School Musical” and (to complete the over-the-rainbow metaphor) this year’s “Oz the Great and Powerful.”
w “Animation Academy,” the exhibit’s grand finale, in which, says Buonomo, visitors get a hands-on crash course in the Disney empire’s ultimate claim to fame.
“That’s a great component,” he adds, “in which you get to sit down and in 10 minutes learn how to draw a Disney character under the supervision of a Disney-trained artist.
Since the exhibit’s opening in mid-October, “Treasures” has met with a “great response,” says Buonomo, scoring with a multigenerational demographic reflecting the Disney empire’s 90-year reign.
“There really is something for everyone, with parents, and grandparents, having a good time introducing their kids to the things they grew up with,” he says.
For the holiday season, the exhibit is dovetailing with an annual Museum of Science and Industry tradition, “Christmas Around the World,” which opened its seasonal run last week and continues through Jan. 5.
There is some thematic spillage, Buonomo notes, with the popular holiday exhibit taking a turn Disney-ward in various areas, from decorated trees to other adornments.
While the holiday exhibit comes with regular museum admission, the Disney exhibit is separately ticketed (see accompanying box) and, to keep crowds manageable, they are sold on a timed-entry basis.
Advance purchases via the museum website, www.msichicago.org, are strongly recommended, Buonomo says.
What: “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives”
When: 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily, through May 4 (closed Thanksgiving and Christmas days)
Where: Museum of Science and Industry, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, Chicago
Tickets: $9 adults/seniors, $7 ages 3-11 (timed-entry tickets, separate from museum admission)
Information: 800-468-6674 or www.msichicago.org
It’s not only Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry that’s all mouse ears this holiday season. In addition to the “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives” exhibit on view there, three more major Disney happenings are imminent:
Nov. 27: Disney animation’s latest offering is “Frozen,” a production of the studio’s own in-house computer animation crew, not popular partner Pixar. It’s a fantasy set in a kingdom hexed with eternal winter and follows the adventures of a plucky heroine (voiced by Kristen Bell) and the extreme mountain man (voiced by Jonathan Groff) who set out to end the Snow Queen’s spell.
Dec. 10: One of the most eagerly awaited Disney classics to make the leap to high-definition home video is 1964’s “Mary Poppins,” a key focus of the Chicago exhibit. The wait is over as the re-mastered Blu-ray edition arrives, just in time for you-know.
Dec. 20: No strangers to savvy tie-ins, Disney follows its release of “Mary Poppins” on Blu-ray just 10 days later with “Saving Mr. Banks,” a Disney-produced dramatization of the 1964 classic’s making, focusing on the conflict-fraught relationship between Uncle Walt, played by Tom Hanks, and “Poppins” author P.L. Travers, played by Emma Thompson.
Who needs Pixar? Frozen
confirms that the House of Mouse is capable of melting hearts again.
There's a special place in the heart reserved for wisecracking candlesticks, singing crustaceans, and lion cubs growing up to be mighty kings. It's a place where nostalgia is kept, where a warm feeling swells at the thought of things that we used to love, that used to be great.
For the better part of this new century, Disney's animated features resided there.
With a string of brilliant animated musicals in the late '80s and '90s--The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King
—the House of Mouse reigned, with hit after hit of family-friendly cartoons that dominated the box office, dazzled critics, and warmed cold hearts with signature Disney magic and catchy tunes. The Magic Kingdom was overthrown in the new millennium, with Pixar delivering its own brand of reliably wholesome and reliably brilliant films--Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Up, Wall-E
—while Disney struggled to adapt its magic to a new tech-savvy age.
, which hits theaters Wednesday, is the best Disney film since The Lion King
, and a powerful reminder of how astonishing the company's magic can really be. This is also, as it happens, the third consecutive year that Disney's big animated release is better than Pixar's. The knee-jerk reaction to such a thing would be to call Disney the new Pixar. But the more accurate coronation is that Disney is the new Disney. Frozen
pulls off its animated abracadabra by conjuring up the elements that made Disney's modern classics just that. It's about two sister princesses—this is Disney, did you really expect anything else?—in the Scandinavian kingdom of Arendelle whose relationship is tested when their parents die in a tragic accident—again, this is Disney, did you really expect anything else? Mostly, though, it's about the transformative powers of true love, of both the sisterly and romantic kind. This is Disney, and we don't want to expect anything else.
Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell as an adult) and Elsa (Idina Menzel as an adult) are inseparable as little girls. They adore spending time with each other, especially when Elsa uses her secret power to make it snow inside the castle. As must be learned, great power comes with great responsibility. Elsa's lesson comes when she nearly kills Anna while casting a chilly spell. Anna is fine—a wise (and adorable) old troll erases her memory of the incident. But in Elsa's eyes, great responsibility means Rapunzel-ing herself in her castle bedroom, where her powers can't hurt anyone else.
But she does hurt Anna, every day, as her heart breaks at the transformation of her fun-loving best friend into a mysterious recluse. The dissolution of their relationship plays out in the achingly poignant duet "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?" sung by the girls from opposite sides of locked doors as the years pass and they grow into lonely adults. (This is where we see their parents die.) The sequence evokes the masterful montage from the beginning of Pixar's Up
, but made perhaps even more wrenching by the essentially Disney element of song.
When Elsa comes of age, a ball is held to celebrate her becoming queen, the first time the people of Arendelle are allowed within the castle's walls since the death of her parents. Anna, spunky and cute with a tiara on her head and heart on her sleeve, delights in the company of others, including a prince she believes is her true love, and needles Elsa to allow it to happen more often, unable to understand why she won't. Frustrated at not being able to give Anna the happiness she wants, Elsa loses control of her powers, accidentally turning the entire kingdom into a frozen wasteland and outing herself as a magical freak.
She exiles herself to the mountains, and Anna chases after her, desperate to have her sister—and a warm kingdom—back.
From the fall of the first snowflake, Frozen
is gorgeously animated, turning a dramatic Nordic landscape into a wintry animated wonderland. It's icing on the, well, ice that the film's story is as emotionally cascading as the setting.
With Anna, you have a female protagonist who is exceptionally female-positive. She's a princess, but she's a clumsy tomboy. She's beautiful, but she's headstrong. She's obsessed with falling in love—her meet-cute with Prince Hans (Santino Fontana) is as precious as their silly-and-lovely duet "Love Is an Open Door"—but learns that love isn't something that can be whipped out of thin air, like Elsa's snowflake, and that stories don’t always end with Happily Ever After, even if you are a princess. She's a multi-faceted, rich lead character, owed both to writer Jennifer Lee's scripting and Kristen Bell's perfectly precocious, zippy voice performance.
With Elsa, you get an adversary with much more nuance than anyone would expect. Though she's the one who buried her kingdom in snow and the one responsible for Anna's life-long loneliness, she's never the antagonist. It's fitting that Menzel voices the character, as the "how she got this way" insight given to Elsa is as empathetic and heartbreaking as the backstory in Wicked
—Menzel starred as the Wicked Witch of the West, another not-quite-a-villain, in the Broadway production. Frozen
's most rousing song, "Let It Go," is actually Elsa's, not Anna's, an empowerment ballad about Elsa deciding she's no longer going to be afraid of her powers. Menzel belts it out like an vocal blizzard.
Most animated films have you rooting for the guy and the girl to get together. By adding unexpected dimension to Elsa, this one has you more invested in the reunion of these sisters.
There's a flurry of other things to cherish about Frozen
. Josh Gad turns talking snowman Olaf into a comedic sidekick that ranks alongside the Genie and Lumiere in Disney’s rich history of scene-stealers. Jonathan Groff turns a hapless mountaineer who talks to his pet reindeer into a swashbuckling Prince Charming. And while the ending might be written on the wall from the get go—again, this is a Disney movie!—the journey there careens in unexpected and satisfying ways. The original music is from husband-and-wife team Robert and Kristin Anderson-Lopez. Robert is the Tony-winning genius behind the music of The Book of Mormon
, which explains the sly wit (Olaf's denial fantasy "In Summer" is particularly inspired) and appealing Broadway bombast of the songs.
All of this works together to make Frozen
the most Disney-feeling film in over a decade, the crescendo of what's been an exciting build over the past few years. The Princess and the Frog
was a welcome return to classic animation from the studio, but stayed perhaps too closely to its mission of reviving classic animation. While magical, it never felt special. Tangled
confirmed that Disney Animation could compete with Pixar, but the plot was a bit knotty and the songs completely unmemorable. Last year's Wreck-It Ralph
was a brilliantly conceived take on blurred lines between "good guys" and "bad guys" and executed with ample intelligence and sass, but it didn't feel Disney the way that Frozen
Disney getting its mojo back would be something to celebrate at any point; mojo by its definition is a great thing, and Disney's was particularly groovy. But it's especially welcome at a point when Pixar seems to be losing its own. For years, Pixar was this quirky little oasis of family film, where heart and humor were equally important and stories that should never work on film were turned into the best
films. But following the stunning Toy Story 3
in 2010, the studio's been on an off streak, with the lazy Cars 2
, the imperfect Brave
, and the uninspired Monsters University
It's as if the studios have reversed roles, with Pixar mired in sequelitis and write-by-number scripts while Disney gambles on out-of-the box story ideas (Wreck-It Ralph
) and nostalgia (Frozen
). There's no vindication in this, of course. The sooner Pixar gets back to making great movies again, the better. But if Pixar's going to slump, it's comforting that Disney is back to its old tricks.
The wise words in Frozen
are that "Only an act of true love can thaw a frozen heart." Frozen
proves that Disney we loved is, indeed, back…and back to melting hearts.