‘Frozen II’ set to heat up box office in need of more hits

(Bloomberg) –Walt Disney Co. looks to have another hit on its hands with “Frozen II,” the sequel to the 2013 film that became the top-grossing animated picture of all time.

Disney expects the movie, which hits theaters Friday, to generate opening-weekend sales of about $100 million in the U.S. and Canada. Outside forecasters see more, with Exhibitor Relations projecting $113 million and Box Office Pro at $130 million.

Those numbers would put the film squarely in hit territory, though “Frozen II” isn’t likely to break all-time records for an animated film. “Incredibles 2,” released last year by Disney, generated $182.7 million in its opening weekend, for example.

Topping the original 2013 film’s worldwide gross of $1.29 billion may also be a stretch. That picture became a cultural phenomenon — with frantic parents searching to find replicas of Elsa’s signature blue dress for their daughters and kids belting out the hit song “Let it Go” in endless YouTube videos.

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In the new film, original stars Idina Menzel and Kristen Bell reprise their roles as the snow-crossed Nordic sisters. Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee also returned to direct the screenplay, which was written by Lee. And the husband and wife composing duo of Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez are back with seven new songs.

Award Winner

The first film captured two Academy Awards — for best animated picture and best original song. It also cemented a renaissance for Disney animation after a long run of disappointments in the 2000s.

Disney is delivering its usual marketing push for the sequel, peddling white chocolate cupcakes at the Norway pavilion at the company’s Epcot theme park, along with backpacks, dolls and “Raised by Trolls” T-shirts.

Both Box Office Pro and Exhibitor Relations predict the film will be among the biggest hits this year. Their forecasts for total domestic sales range from $415 million to as much as $520 million. Budgets for Disney animated films typically approach $200 million

Theater owners could use the help. Domestic ticket sales for the year to date are down 6.2%.

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Menzel and Bell received stars on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame on Tuesday. In the film, the pair once again must face their demons as Elsa copes with her magical power and Anna her habit of wandering into trouble.

“If ‘Frozen’ was happily ever after,” Lee, the screenwriter, said in press notes for the film, “then ‘Frozen II’ is the day after happily ever after.”

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