"Frozen" is a phenomenon.
There's just no getting around that. The Disney animated feature, released way back in 2013, made more than $1 billion at the global box office and won the Academy Awards for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song ("Let It Go"). Along the way, it has inspired an animated short (the utterly charming "Frozen Fever"), several Disney Parks attractions (the best of which is Frozen Ever After in the Norway pavilion at Epcot) and appearances on ABC's "Once Upon a Time." But that's just the beginning -- there will soon be a Broadway musical (currently in previews in Denver), a full-fledged sequel (with a tentative release date of November 27, 2019) and a brand-new holiday special debuting this Christmas alongside Pixar's "Coco." And by all indications this special, called "Olaf's Frozen Adventure," is going to be pretty special.
Earlier this summer, at the D23 Expo, Josh Gad sang one of the new songs from the special (written by Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson) on stage and it was a hoot. The special is concerned with Anna and Elsa, who, with a newly free and open Arendelle, are able to celebrate the holidays for the first time in forever (see what I did there?) So it's up to Olaf to find the best holiday celebrations. Chaos, inevitably, ensues. It looks very cute.
We were down at Walt Disney World a couple of weeks ago speaking to "Olaf's Frozen Adventure" producer Roy Conli about his work on the gorgeous Disneynature film "Born in China" (out on home video next week) and had to ask him what we could expect from this latest "Frozen" romp.
"Well, first of all, they're going to get four new songs, which are wonderful," Conli said.
He then admitted that he was uneasy about coming aboard such a beloved franchise: "I came onto this a little concerned because you're taking one of the crown jewels."
Still, he's got a crackerjack team behind him, including directors Stevie Wermers and Kevin Deters, who created the "Prep & Landing" Christmas specials for Walt Disney Animation Studios and ABC. "We, being me and Stevie Wermers and Kevin Deters, who directed it, joked that they've become the holiday experts," Conli said. (They have!)
Clearly everyone involved wanted this to be special and to really advance the overall "Frozen" story. "We really wanted to make sure that it was not only in the world but furthered the world of the characters. It's really cool. You get to know Olaf a little bit better. You see a side of the ladies that you didn't see in the film. Even Kristoff has a legitimate song," Conli revealed.
One of the biggest thrills for the producer, though, was getting to work with the cast (everyone is returning for the special). "The cast of that film -- what a delight!" Conli said. "Josh Gad is a really amazing performer. Kristen and Idina were incredible. We sat, slack-jawed, when Idina came in. This is a somewhat diminutive person. And it was like, This is why she's a star."