Are you still infected with 'Frozen' fever?
Another winter is upon us, and though last year's polar vortex won't be returning (right?), another phenomenon that introduced itself last November still has us in its clutches.
Disney's "Frozen" opened in theaters Nov. 27, 2013. I saw it the next morning at the AMC Randhurst and loved it. I came home, immediately downloaded the soundtrack and burned it onto a CD. The CD has not yet left my car.
More than a year later, the world is still infected with "Frozen" fever. The theatrical release earned $1.27 billion, making "Frozen" the all-time champ among animated films. DVD and Blu-ray sales in North America have brought in another $280.8 million. The year's No. 2 home release, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," made less than half that figure.
Then there's the merchandise. A trip to my local Meijer brings me images of Elsa, Anna and Olaf at every turn: "Frozen" toys, books, lip gloss, Christmas stockings. Go across the street to Wal-Mart and you'll find "Frozen" blankets, towels, pillows ... even "Frozen" duct tape, for cryin' out loud.
What is it about the tale of a reluctant queen with magical powers, her quirky sister and their sun-loving snowman friend that is still driving children, their parents and (apparently) nerdy 35-year-old guys crazy?
It's the songs and the characters. And while that seems like an obvious winning combination, it's one that had eluded Walt Disney Animation for a few years: "Wreck-It Ralph" had lovable characters, but felt like a video-game retread of "Toy Story." "Tangled" was gorgeous to behold, but the songs by Alan Menken ("The Little Mermaid") didn't become hits. "The Princess and the Frog" was hand-drawn perfection, but far too few people went to see it.
But along came Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell), and the songs by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. When Elsa sings about becoming her own person while building an ice palace, we can't help but get swept up in the anthemic power of "Let It Go" -- despite the film's muddled-at-best narrative.
For the first time in forever, seemingly, people of all ages embraced a Disney film. It hadn't happened on a large scale since 1993's "The Lion King," and one hopes that the success of "Frozen" will inspire more greatness -- and I don't necessarily mean the inevitable "Frozen 2," which, despite Menzel's recent publicized comments, is not officially happening. (Yet.)
One side-effect of "Frozen" fever is "Frozen" fatigue -- Santa would give anything to hear a kid ask for a Red Ryder BB gun at this point -- but I can't help but marvel at how one film still dominates a pop-culture landscape more jam-packed than ever.
And it's not going anywhere. "Frozen On Ice" comes to Rosemont's Allstate Arena for six days beginning Jan. 21, a new short appropriately called "Frozen Fever" debuts in theaters March 13 with the new "Cinderella" film, and a "Frozen" attraction will open at Epcot in 2016.
Of course, there are two heroes with movies coming next year that could knock the snow queen off her throne. Is Elsa a match for the likes of Tony Stark and Han Solo?
• Sean Stangland is a Daily Herald copy editor and a tireless consumer of pop culture. You can follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.