One reason ‘Frozen’ was/is so hot: scarcity
The first trailer for Frozen was terrible when it came out. It showed a reindeer in a battle for a carrot with an annoying snowman. One presumably wanted it for lunch, and the other for a nose. While this battle played out in minor form throughout the movie, it really had nothing to do with the plot. The sight of a snowman with allergies and a clumsy reindeer seemed to spell disaster for Disney studio. No other characters from the film appear in the trailer, which was really more of a short. This scarcity allowed people to lower their expectations. The movie was happy to make like a summer breeze blowing away a winter storm and blow these expectations away.
Scarcity of Characters
Films of all kinds have lacked the type of female characters that Elsa and Anna represent. In spite of the successes of Frozen, Lucy and Maleficent, Hollywood continues to believe that the best way to rule the box office is with big budget, special effect laden blockbusters aimed at testosterone driven teenagers and menchildren. Films that have strong female characters typically get the raw end of the deal when it comes to release dates and marketing budgets. In a departure from the typical Disney story, neither Anna nor Elsa get married, and Elsa doesn’t even end up with a love interest.
While an argument can be made, in the face of feminist objections, that all Disney princesses possess a strength of character, none have the raw, amazing power if Elsa, who can manipulate snow and ice and create life. Elsa is a powerful woman who is saved by her sister, and Anna gets the last laugh over Hans when she punches him off of a ship. Audiences are starving for stories like these. A generation of men who have grown up with single moms will certainly go see movies where women are the central characters.
Scarcity of Merchandise
The popularity of Frozen caught Disney so off guard that the amount of merchandise available could not satiate demand. Purchases were limited in the parks to a certain number of numbers per person, and the more that people were limited, the more they wanted the merchandise. It was so bad that even six months later, Disneyland hadn’t caught up with the demand, purchases were limited, and some things were entirely unavailable. People might be okay going home with a lesser character or a substitute product, but they were going to come back to get what they wanted the first chance they had available.
In age where movies are heavy with product placement and movie tie-ins, Frozen had relatively little merchandise available, no competition to speak of and strong female characters that audiences really want to see. The scarcities helped to create a juggernaut Even a year later Elsa had an outfit ranked near the top of Halloween costumes, usurped Barbie as the Queen of Christmas and fueled Disney profits and stock prices to record highs.
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