Frozen II has been a massive success for Disney Animation and how could it not be? It took elements of the beloved first film and really pushed the boundaries in creating a sequel that felt fresh and gave us even more of our favorite characters. I was ecstatic to be invited to Walt Disney Animation Studios for a press event to celebrate the film’s upcoming Blu-ray release.
The first stop of the day was breakfast, where the tables were all decorated like the enchanted forest like in Frozen II. There was artwork displayed everywhere and instrumental versions of the songs played throughout the meal. Off to the side, there was a display of some new merchandise for the film, including some spoilers, like the final outfits of Anna and Elsa and an awesome Bruni toy.
Outtakes & Deleted Scenes
After breakfast, we separated into groups and went into viewing rooms. Producer Peter Del Vecho introduced the first presentation, which included outtakes from the recording process. The actors really look like they had a fun time working on the film, and the whole environment seems to be very collaborative. We watched a feature that focused on Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez and how they come up with songs for the movie. One way was that the writer/director Jennifer Lee sent them internal monologues for the characters which helps them with ideas. Kristen told the story about how she was inspired for Olaf’s song “When I Am Older” while ice-skating!
We saw three deleted scenes from Frozen II. First up was “Get This Right”, which was the original proposal scene between Kristoff and Anna. It took place earlier in the film and contained a duet between Jonathan Groff and Kristen Bell. It is an adorable scene and the song is highly influenced by boy bands, but it didn’t work properly in the pacing of the film.
The next scene shown involved Anna and Elsa discovering a secret room near the library where they find out that the mother has been researching magic. This scene kind of undercuts some of the reveals toward the end so it was a decent cut.
The final scene we saw was Elsa giving Anna the gift of seeing what their parents really thought of her. This would have taken place toward the end, giving Anna more confidence for her final decision. It’s a beautiful scene, but ultimately didn’t make it in the film.
“Lost in the Woods” & “Show Yourself”
There were two more presentations after the deleted scenes. These focused on individual sequences in the film, like “Lost in the Woods” and “Show Yourself”. “Lost in the Woods” was probably my favorite scene in the movie for a variety of reasons and meeting with the animation team behind this was incredible. Justin Sklar, Michael Woodside, and Dan Abraham all discussed how the scene came together and the influences behind it. It was very important for them to balance the sincerity of the song with fun since the song is an ‘80s rock ballad. Abraham spent a day and a half watching a bunch of rock videos from the ‘80s and it could have been even wilder! Like he mentioned Kristoff doing a slow-motion backflip shirtless and releasing a bunch of doves. I would like to see this! Not only did I get insight into the care the team put into this sequence, but I learned that Jonathan Groff sang eighteen different vocal parts for the reindeer! He is an absolute marvel!
The second presentation was called “Finding Ahtohallan” and we were joined by animators Marc Smith, Brittney Lee, Amol Sathe, Rocco Florimonte, and Alexander Moaveni. They mentioned that they took a research trip to Iceland and studied glaciers. This sequence was crucial because it was so emotional with the mother calling her daughter back home. Also, the song has two themes: call and response and gaining confidence. The attention to detail was even more impressive than I originally thought.
They spoke about how they kept the shots on Elsa very tight until she calls out to the spirits. Also, they never wanted the audience to get ahead of her on the journey; we were all discovering this at the same time. Because water holds memories, they discussed how they settled on which shots from both movies that they would include at the end of the song. “Show Yourself” is one of the most gorgeous sequences I’ve ever seen in an animated film and I now have even more appreciation for the work this team put into it. Absolutely stunning.
A Surprise Performance & Recording Experience
We were taken to our roundtable interviews after the presentations. Then, it was time for lunch and a special performance occurred! When I entered the space, there was a piano set up in the center of the room with a sign for Frozen II. We were lucky enough to witness both Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Bobby Lopez perform a medley of the songs from the film. This was a very cool experience and I’m glad that they wanted to share this with all of us.
The final treat of the day was getting to record a bit of “Lost in the Woods” in the same recording booth that Jonathan Groff sang the song. As someone who once dreamed of being a singer, getting to step into a booth, put on those headphones, and sing into a microphone was extremely awesome. I’ll never forget getting that opportunity.
All in all, it was a fun-filled day where I learned even more than I expected about this wonderful film. Disney truly knows how to bring magic in every aspect and I’m grateful I was able to attend.
Frozen II will be released on digital February 11th and Blu-ray on February 25th.