It was a big weekend for Disney’s animated juggernaut “Frozen.” The 53rd feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series made history not once but twice, giving further reason to believe that this could be a second renaissance for the legendary animation company.
First, on Sunday, “Frozen” beat out stiff competition to take home the Oscar for Best Animated Feature at the 86th Academy Awards. Its win marks Disney Animation Studios’ first-ever trophy in the relatively young category after six previous nominations in the 13 years since animated features were first recognized in a separate category.
Four out of Disney’s six losses (“Brother Bear,” “Bolt,” “The Princess and the Frog” and “Wreck-It Ralph”) were to Pixar films (“Finding Nemo,” “Wall-E,” “Up” and “Brave”), while two of them — “Lilo & Stitch” and “Treasure Planet,” both in 2002 — were to Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away.”
Many had predicted that this year might also go to Miyazaki, whose final film, “The Wind Rises,” just opened in wide release at the end of February to almost universal acclaim.
In addition to Best Animated Feature, “Frozen” also managed to walk away with the award for Best Original Song for “Let It Go,” marking the first time in nearly 15 years that a song from a Disney musical has won an Oscar. The last recipient was 1999’s “Tarzan” for “You’ll Be In My Heart.”
Proving its popularity among audiences, “Frozen” also made history over the weekend in terms of box office, becoming only the 18th movie ever to cross $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo (not adjusting for inflation). All the more impressive, it’s only the fifth movie to do so that wasn’t a sequel, prequel or remake, and the first animated Disney film.
What’s more, with “Frozen” still scheduled for release in Japan later this month, its box-office run isn’t done yet. Japan accounts for the third largest film market in the world after the U.S. and China, leading box-office analysts to predict that “Frozen” could wind up beating out “Toy Story 3” to become the highest-grossing animated feature of all time.
All of this is great news for fans of Disney Animation. With the back-to-back-to-back success of “Tangled,” “Wreck-It Ralph” and now “Frozen,” the studio has shown that it’s found its footing again after a few lackluster years. If it’s able to keep the momentum up, this could be another golden age for animated features, akin to the so-called Disney Renaissance of the early ’90s.
A native of Utah Valley and a devoted cinephile, Jeff Peterson is currently studying humanities and history at Brigham Young University.
Copyright 2016, Deseret News Publishing Company