This winter, after a six-year wait, Disney is finally taking us back to Arendelle with Frozen 2.
Hitting cinemas in November, the sequel to the 2013 smash hit picks up the story of Queen Elsa, her sister Anna and her courtier Kristoff, three years after the events of the first film. Elsa’s magic continues to prevent the Scandinavian royal from living a normal life, as a mysterious voice calls her from far away bringing into question the true source of her icy powers.
It’s Disney’s first ever sequel to an animated musical (not including the studios’ straight-to-video sequels) and with such high expectations from fans, its no surprise that Walt Disney Animation Studios has been working on the film for over four years now.
The film’s producer Peter Del Vecho reassembled the creative team from the first film for the sequel to add some continuity between the projects. He promises that when viewing both films side by side, they will feel like two halves of one larger story.
And with extensive flashback scenes that show the princesses with their mother and father, we had to ask him whether this made Frozen 2 the Godfather Part II of Disney sequels.
“It is a little bit like that, but with minus horse heads,” Del Vecho grins as he agrees with Yahoo.
“This is a movie about family. It's about never giving up. Not losing hope, and really just doing the next great thing.”
“I think tonally, it'll be very familiar [to Frozen]. Obviously the world will be very familiar, even though we go to new places. And our hope is by the time you finish seeing Frozen 2, it will feel like Frozen and Frozen 2 are one connected movie, always intended as one big tale.”
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One part of the franchise that won’t be referenced in Frozen 2 however are the two shorts - Frozen Fever (2015) and Olaf’s Frozen Adventure (2017) - which Del Vecho says didn’t impact the development of the sequel in any way.
With Frozen tying up Elsa, Anna and Kristoff’s stories fairly comprehensively, Frozen 2 co-directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck turned to unusual methods in order to determine which narrative path to send their characters down for the sequel. Lee (now Disney’s Chief Creative Officer) and Buck gave the three leads “personality tests”, answering the questions in their voices on their behalf.
“It's a series of questions that you go through that uncover some underlying hopes, desires, worries, concerns that characters may have,” explains Del Vecho.
“So Jen Lee took the test as Anna and Elsa, and Chris Buck took it as Kristoff. The joke is, Jen was able to complete both in the same day, but Chris took all day just to do one. And in part, it's because for guys... it's harder to get answers from guys, so they have to keep asking the questions to pull the answers out.
“But what was really clear was that it was very easy for Jen to answer the questions, because Anna and Elsa’s answers were distinctly different based on their characters.”
Amongst those hopes, desires, and concerns voiced by their characters lay the deep-rooted mystery that drives the plot of Frozen 2: Where did Elsa’s power come from? Where were their parents going when they went missing at sea? And - for Kristoff - how to take his relationship with Anna to the next level?
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That first question is addressed in one of Elsa’s new songs - Into The Unknown - which can be watched below, and it’s clear from the early footage we saw at a recent preview event, the other two questions will also be tackled head on, with one scene seeing Kristoff preparing to pop the question.
Into The Unknown is just one of seven new songs written by returning songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez for the sequel. Elsa - voiced by Idina Menzel - has two musical numbers, Anna (Kristen Bell) has one, as does Olaf (Josh Gad), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Queen Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood), and there’s an opening number sung by the entire cast.
“I think our characters - just like in life - they've gotten older and the question we asked ourselves is 'what happens after happily ever?'“ Del Vecho concludes.
“After the first movie clearly was that moment, but we realise that in life, you can have those moments, but then life has a way of putting other obstacles in your path and things change. So they are, in essence, growing up and maturing and taking on responsibilities as they become adults.”
Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Frozen 2 opens in UK Cinemas on 22 November, 2019. Watch the latest trailer below.