Kristen Bell has a ‘Frozen 2’ update for us
The world’s appetite for more Frozen is just about as big as Anna’s appetite for delicious sandwiches and chocolate. And Disney’s sure committing to putting together a menu of follow-ups to the 2013 massive hit: We got short film Frozen Fever in front of Cinderella last year, a Broadway show debuts in 2018 (and previews in Denver in 2017), a Frozen holiday special will air on ABC in 2017, and a theatrical sequel is on the way too.
Here’s a status update on Frozen 2 from the voice of Princess Anna: “It is almost completed being written. And we start recording this month or next month,” Kristen Bell said while talking with HitFix about The Boss, her new film co-starring Melissa McCarthy. (I’ll have more of this interview with Bell to share with you closer to The Boss’ release on April 8.)
When I asked Bell whether she’s heard or gotten to try out any of the new songs in the musical sequel, her response was a reminder that Star Wars isn’t the only House of Mouse property with closely-guarded secrets: Bell opened her mouth, appearing like she was about to stay something, then smiled and said, “I don’t know if I can say that. It’s very hush-hush.”
Disney officially announced plans to produce a Frozen sequel in March 2015. With Frozen having snowballed into a major property for Disney during the 2013 holiday season, that may seem like a long wait for that sequel announcement from the studio in today’s landscape of quickly greenlit and churned out sequels/reboots/prequels/etc. A Frozen sequel may feel like a no-brainer (it’s the highest grossing animated film of all time, and the merchandise is still flying off the shelf).
But this Frozen sequel will be a rarity for Disney, a rarity that took some time to mull over: Very few Disney feature-length animated sequels get theatrically releases. The Rescuers Down Under did get a big screen release, and Disney also gave follow-ups Fantasia 2000 and Winnie the Pooh time to shine on the silver screen. There is a slew of animated sequels in the Mouse House catalog, but most of them were direct-to-home video releases. (This is Disney Animation I’m talking about here, not Disney-owned Pixar). Movies like The Return of Jafar and Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea didn’t debut on the big screen and were made for a fraction of the cost of their theatrically released predecessors.
So Frozen 2 wasn’t as much of a given as it might seem to be.
Bell explained that the people behind the Frozen franchise — directors Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and song writers Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez — “don’t settle. So I think that's why it took them so long to even announce we were doing a Frozen 2 because they were genuinely waiting for the story they needed to tell. They weren’t just trying to pump something out — sincerely. They wanted something that was meaningful, and I think they found it.”
The release date for Frozen 2 is yet to be announced, but Bell’s voice can currently be heard in theaters in another Disney animated film: She voices Priscilla the sloth in Zootopia. If you’ve seen this appearance of Bell’s on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, then you know that the sloth is the Veronica Mars alum’s favorite animal and that the mere possibility of getting to see a sloth gets her crying hysterically. (No, really.) So did the waterworks kick in when she got see these animated sloths in the Zootopia DMV, including one voiced by herself?
“No, thank God,” Bell said. “I mean, I laughed quite hard. But I’m able to keep it together around sloths these days. Owls — not so much, ’cause owls are kind of like my new sloths.”
Disney, this may mean you gotta get Anna and Olaf an owl buddy in Frozen 2.
Update 12:53 p.m. ET: This post has been corrected to reflect the fact that Frozen will not be Disney Animation's first theatrically released full-length sequel film. The Three Caballeros holds that distinction, and The Rescuers Down Under is another rare Disney Animation sequel that did not get a direct-to-home video release.