Rare Hollywood Gambles On Originality Pay Off With 'Frozen,' 'Lego Movie'

Feb 16 2014, 3:32pm CST | by

Frozen and The Lego Movie show the power of an original kids film.

Disney’s Frozen is on track to earn $1 billion. The film has now brought in $956 million at the global box office, making it the highest-earning non-sequel animated film of all time.  Meanwhile, The Lego Movie dominated the box office for a second week in a row this weekend. The film earned $48.8 million this weekend, according to Exhibitor Relations, making it the top-grossing movie of the year so far.

It’s no secret that a good kids film can be a huge money maker. The Toy Story franchise has earned $1.9 billion at the global box office. The five Shrek movies (including Puss in Boots) have brought in $3.5 billion.

What’s a big deal about Frozen and Lego is that both films were relative risks. Before Oscar nominations were announced, a billboard on Ventura Boulevard near my house was pushing Disney’s Monsters University, asking voters to nominate the film in several categories. Clearly, the folks at Disney saw the film as their best chance for a nod.

Cut to post-Oscar nominations (Monsters University failed to get a nomination) and that billboard is now pushing Frozen, which is up for Best Animated Film and Best Original Song for Let It Go.

Because Frozen was an original story without known characters, it was a risk. As a film lover (and as a parent), you desperately want studios to take these kinds of risks. While Monsters University was perfectly charming, there are few things better than going into a film with no idea how it is going to play out and then having your socks knocked off. My family saw Monsters University once. We’ve already seen Frozen three times (including one sing along showing).

The same is true of The Lego Movie. As I wrote last week, the real lesson from The Lego Movie isn’t that audiences want more product integration. (At a basic level the film is a 90-minute ad for Legos.) It’s that in the hands of the right creative filmmakers, given freedom from the studio, any idea can lead to a really wonderful movie. Lines from The Lego Movie have already worked their way into my kids’ conversation. That’s saying a lot.

Hopefully, the success of these two films will encourage studios to be bold when coming up with new kids movies. This year we’ll get a sequel to How To Train Your Dragon and a another to Disney’s awful movie Planes.

But we’ll also get Big Hero 6 from Disney (based on a comic book) and Home from DreamWorks Animation. Hopefully, one of these films will be the next Frozen or the next Lego Movie. Hopefully the studios will be well rewarded at the box office for their originality.

Follow me on Twitter at DorothyatForbes.

Source: Forbes Business


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