It’s not often at the moment that the Walt Disney company can be accused of messing up. This single company enjoys a quarter of all box office revenue at this point, and has a merchandising empire that spans the entire globe.
The company is not entirely flawless, though, and every now and then, it makes a colossal mistake.
Such is the case with “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure”, a twenty minute short film that has inexplicably been stuck onto the front of the newly released “Coco”, forcing parents everywhere to endure more “Frozen”, and ensuring that kids run out of patience for sitting still long before the main feature comes to an end.
So what led Disney to stick in “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” as a B-movie for “Coco”? If official sources are to believed, the company made some pretty stupid decisions with this short film, and it’s all thanks to our good friend (and alleged sexual harasser) John Lasseter.
Apparently, this movie wasn’t always intended to appear on the big screen – initially, it was designed for television.
This makes sense. After all, why make an enormous twenty minute animation as a throwaway creation to go at the start of “Coco”? It makes more sense for such a long cartoon to be planned for a half-hour event showing on ABC, followed by repeat showings on the Disney Channel over the entire holiday season.
Disney had planned for “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” to be a fun new annual tradition; every year, they’d roll the cartoon out, making it a part of standard festivities for a generation of young “Frozen” fans.
Then, John Lasseter saw what the team was putting together, and decreed that it was too good for television. This deserved time on the big screen, and as such, it was put at the start of “Coco” to let audiences for that film get a fun bonus movie as well.
Of course, that’s the official line. Rumor has it that the real reason for “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” getting the big screen treatment is because Disney worried that “Coco”, a movie about Latin American culture, might not appeal to middle America.
Hence, the decision to bundle “Coco” with literally the whitest possible short movie, a story about Josh Gad as a literal snowman, hanging out with his incredibly pale Scandinavian buddies. You don’t get much whiter than that!
Regardless of whether this rumor is true, and whatever Disney’s reasoning behind pulling “Olaf” off the small screen, it’s clearly a mistake.
Disney has created a miniature “Frozen” sequel that it is holding ransom by not releasing to the widest possible audience. “Frozen Fever”, a much shorter mini movie, sells under its own steam to anyone who either loves the first film, or who has kids under the age of twelve. A similar widespread release for “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” would guarantee that Disney would win Christmas this year without even trying.
After all, if you’ve been anywhere near a Disney store or theme park any time soon, you’ll have noticed that the company has made a big deal out of the merchandise for this movie. There’s a huge range of products for a movie that the majority of “Frozen” fans won’t actually see.
It looks like the original plan to make money from “Olaf” was to yes, gain advertising cash for showing it on ABC, but also to get every kid in America watching a free “Frozen” sequel all about Christmas, encouraging them to fill their Santa lists with requests for all the latest toys and dolls.
Instead, Disney has limited audience access to the short movie, and all of their merchandise is utterly useless. Nobody wants an “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” Elsa when they haven’t seen the movie that her outfit is based on.
Those who have seen it might be persuaded by these toys, but they’re in the minority – most “Frozen” fans will not have seen “Coco”, and therefore won’t care for the “Olaf” style toys.
This is especially true when you consider that Disney is one of the only companies that still refuses to do worldwide launches for its animated movies.
Large chunks of the world, including Europe and China, have not received “Coco” yet, and when they do, it’ll be long past Christmas. A few extremely limited showings of the original “Frozen” give superfans a chance to see the new “Olaf” movie, but these are so sparse that there’s approximately one showing per city for the entire Christmas period.
Disney has spent a lot of money producing a new movie, and created an awful lot of new merchandise, but isn’t actually letting the vast majority of its audience actually see the film, in turn making all the new merch (which the company has still shipped to stores across Europe, because why not?) utterly pointless.
Good job, Disney. Maybe if your staff didn’t need to spend half their time making sure John Lasseter kept his hands to himself, someone would have realized that you can’t sell toys for a movie nobody has seen.