'Frozen 2' heats up box office with $127 million opening weekend

Bringing in $350.2 million worldwide, the sequel to Elsa, Anna and Olaf’s adventures was highest-grossing debut ever for any animated film globally.
Image: Disney's Frozen 2
Disney's Frozen 2Walt Disney Animation Studios

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By Associated Press

Six years after “Frozen” kicked up a pop-culture blizzard, the sequel to Elsa, Anna and Olaf’s adventures snowed-in the box office with an estimated $127 million debut domestically and $350.2 million worldwide, according to studio estimates Sunday.

The opening for the Walt Disney Co.’s “Frozen 2” buried several records. It’s the highest-grossing debut ever for any animated film globally. It marks a new high in the U.S. and Canada for an animated movie released outside of the summer season. And it’s the largest opening for any Walt Disney Animation Studios release.

Disney opted for the week ahead of Thanksgiving to open “Frozen 2,” meaning it will get a significant second week bump from kids out of school. The first “Frozen” opened over Thanksgiving, earning $93 million in five days and $67 million for the three-day weekend.

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The original, though, quickly grew into a sensation, remaining in the top 10 at the box office for 17 weeks and ultimately grossing $1.27 billion. Propelled in part by the hit song “Let it Go,” “Frozen” begat a flurry of merchandizing, untold numbers of Elsa dresses and a Broadway musical. It won two Academy Awards, for best animated feature and original song.

Matching that total gross won’t be easy sledding, but “Frozen 2” has a head start. Cathleen Taff, distribution chief for Disney, granted there’s a “high bar” set by “Frozen,” but she’s confident of the film’s enormous appeal.

“We can’t open to a number this big without everybody coming out to see it,” said Taff. “We’re looking forward to a good run through the holidays given kids are going to start getting out of school this next week.”

Reviews and audience reaction have been good for “Frozen 2,” but not as strong as they were for the original. The CinemaScore was A- for “Frozen 2,” whereas “Frozen” yielded an A+. Critics were also a little less taken with the sequel: 75 percent fresh on Rotten Tomatoes, compared to 90 percent for the original.

But scores were still very high, including a 93 percent Rotten Tomatoes audience rating. Crowds were largely female (59 percent) but not extremely so. And audiences came out in larger numbers than analysts forecast, especially overseas.

The film brings back much of the talent behind the 2013 original, including the voices of Idina Menzel (Elsa), Kristen Bell (Anna) and Josh Gad (Olaf). Also returning are songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez, though the music this time hasn’t be quite as enthusiastically received. And it’s again directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, who’s now the chief creative officer at Disney Animation.

“Frozen 2” helped thaw a frigid November box office. The last three weeks have seen a string of films rooted in decades-old intellectual property fizzle, including Warner Bros.’ “Doctor Sleep,” Paramount Pictures’ “Terminator: Dark Fate” and Sony Pictures’ “Charlie’s Angels.”

But Elsa could do only so much to move the needle. The weekend was actually down 7 percent from the same frame last year, according to data firm Comscore. In 2018, there were simply more big movies in the marketplace, including “Ralph Breaks the Internet,” “Creed II” and “Fantastic Beasts: Crimes of Grindelwald.”