Sneak Peek: The making of <I>Frozen 2</I>
Issue: September/October 2019

Sneak Peek: The making of Frozen 2

Disney released its official trailer for Frozen 2 a few weeks ago, offering a glimpse into the new storyline, some new characters and new dangers Elsa, Anna and team will face in the much-anticipated sequel to its 2013 colossal hit Frozen.

The studio’s original film, Frozen, scored two Oscars in 2014 for Best Animated Feature and Original Song (“Let it Go”), earned $1.2 billion globally (making it the highest grossing animated film of all time), sold 4.1 million soundtracks by June 2016 and set off a princess “Anna/Elsa” frenzy among little girls everywhere.



While Frozen’s success can be attributed to a slew of folks, the masterminds behind it are director/writer/chief creative officer Jennifer Lee, director Chris Buck and producer Peter Del Vecho who have traveled far and wide (literally! Read on for more on that…) to bring fans more of a very good thing. Trailers aside, audiences will finally be able to see Frozen 2 in theaters on November 22.

“We realized there were lingering questions within us,” says Lee. “We wondered what Anna would do now that she has everything she’s ever wanted. We felt there were unanswered questions about their parents and where their ship was going when it went down. And the biggest one: Why was Elsa born with magical powers?”



 “There was something about these characters that still was very interesting and appealing to us. We wanted to know more—we felt that their story continued,” adds Del Vecho.

WHAT WE KNOW NOW

Here’s what we know so far about Frozen 2. The sequel picks up three years after the conclusion of Frozen. Elsa is queen and Anna is happy to have everyone she loves — Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven — under one roof. The bond between sisters is strong — and anchors the story. But, according to the filmmakers, there is an underlying current of unrest and angst. Elsa is the only one who keeps hearing a voice in the distance, calling out to her in song. Ultimately, it leads to a great adventure for the characters — one that Disney promises will bring clarity to everything we know about these characters.



For inspiration, the three filmmakers, joined by production designer Michael Giaimo and director of story Marc Smith, journeyed to Finland, Norway and Iceland and surrounded themselves with the environments as well as the regions’ folklore, fairytales and mythologies. 

According to Buck, in Frozen, the world had just opened up for the characters. “They were trying to figure out who they were,” he says. “But it feels like they’ve graduated college now. They’re getting their lives together. We wanted to know what that means for each of them.”



Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad return to Arendelle as the voices of Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and Olaf, respectively. Evan Rachel Wood (HOB’s Westworld) joins the cast as Queen Iduna, Anna and Elsa’s mother, and Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, Black Panther) portrays Lieutenant Destin Mattias. Also returning is the hit songwriting team of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez with seven new offerings, and most of the same creative team from Disney. Lee and Buck have co-directed the film once again, as well.

We also know that the demands for this film were high. Animators, visual effects artists, the filmmakers, editor, environment artists, set designers, etc. all had their challenges. There were new characters to develop, including several that are a bit unconventional, such as a mythical water spirit (a horse) called a “NOKK,” the water itself (beautifully created yet darker than in Moana) and even the forceful winds named “Gale” that the characters meet once inside a magical, enchanted forest. Even the color palette in the film has changed, moving away from jewel tones and into colors of fall (oranges, yellows and reds) — when the film takes place — and audiences will see more of the village. 



On the technical side, animators and visual effects artists had a number of sequences and characters to work out for the new film. But technology and talents advance — and since the first film, character rigs improved, software developed further and artists evolved their techniques. The new film is certain to push some animation and VFX boundaries.

“Everything’s gotten better at the studio,” says Del Vecho. “We have stronger technologies, advancements, our artists advance, everything is great. The story [they] came up with expands the world of Frozen. This is a big movie, in scope and scale, and it is bigger than Frozen I.”

Post will have more in-depth coverage of Frozen 2, including new details from the filmmakers, editor, VFX and animation teams.