Ice Age 2014: Remembering the Year 'Frozen' Took Over - Rolling Stone
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Ice Age 2014: Remembering the Year ‘Frozen’ Took Over

Disney’s princess blockbuster sold more copies than any other film or album, but those sales are only the tip of the iceberg


In 2014, 'Frozen' and its soundtrack outsold all other albums and DVDs.

©Walt Disney Pictures/courtesy Everett

Frozen, Disney’s November 2013 princess flick, tells the story of two reclusive sisters, Anna and Elsa, who inherit the kingdom of Arendelle and must defend it from Duke of Weselton and Prince Hans of the Southern Isles. They succeed, of course, but they also grow as people, sing a few incredibly catchy tunes and befriend a talking snowman who can’t wait for summer. If you have, interact with or understand the concept of kids, you know that they went crazy for this, but even eye-witness accounts don’t reveal the full picture.

In 2014, the film and its soundtrack (led by Idina Menzel’s “Let It Go”) outsold all other albums and DVDs. It changed where we vacation and (through an bizarre, unpredictable series of events) set the standard for viral content. Taylor Swift, Bono, Katniss and Beyoncé all had their moments, but when it comes to pop culture, this was the year of Frozen. Here are the events, milestones, records and stories to prove it.

January 2: Frozen opens the year as the biggest movie in the country, outdrawing The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and American Hustle with ticket sales totaling $57,594,728. Future Best Picture winner 12 Years a Slave, Number 25 this week, would make a million less in its entire theatrical run.

January 8: Frozen: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack becomes the Number One album in the country, knocking Beyoncé down to Number Two by selling 165,000 copies in the week that ended on January 5th. It is the first soundtrack to top Billboard‘s album chart since Les Mis did so one year earlier, and it is only the fourth animated soundtrack to hit Number One in the chart’s 58-year history.

January 22: Bruce Springsteen temporarily freezes out Menzel and company, as High Hopes knocks the Frozen soundtrack down to Number Two. Dads across the country flock to Asbury Park in celebration.

January 29: Frozen returns to Number One. Dads return home.

January 31: Disney sends a new version of Frozen to additional theaters. This time, a bouncing snowflake leads viewers through sing-alongs of every song.

February 1: “Let It Go” becomes the first – and ultimately only – Western song to reach Number One on the Korean singles chart, displacing another ballad, Hyolyn’s “Hello Goodbye.” Ironically, Hyolyn had previously recorded a translation of “Let It Go” for Frozen‘s Korean soundtrack, and one week later Disney releases her version as a competing single. Hyolyn’s take eventually reaches the Top Five and sells nearly 600,000 copies.

February 25: Frozen – the film – is made available for download. It becomes Hollywood’s fastest-selling digital release of all time.

March 2: Idina Menzel performs at the Academy Awards. John Travolta, the man tasked with introducing her, walks to the stage and receives the audience’s applause with the words, “Thank you, I love you.” He then mispronounces four of the syllables in the singer’s name and elides the fifth, asking the crowd to give a round of applause for the “wick-edly talented, one and only Adele Dazeem.” In lesser news, the film wins Oscars for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Song.


March 3: Slate introduces “The Adele Dazeem Name Generator,” a widget that attempts to guess how Travolta would interpret any text that you enter. Princess Elsa, for instance, morphs into “Preston Edbrards,” Prince Hans comes back “Paige Hayzes” and Bruce Springsteen returns “Bryce Seempzon.”

March 4, 11:07 A.M.: Slate editor-in-chief David Plotz announces that the name generator is now the most viewed story in the site’s 18-year history, out-trafficking clickbait as brazen as “Brave New World: Kazuo Ishiguro’s Novel Really Is Chilling” and “Jim Holt’s Why Does the World Exist: An Inquiry Into Why There Is Something Rather Than Nothing.” The post – shared on Facebook 554,000 times ­– becomes a viral landmark from a year in which online publishing shifted toward interactive content. It also pushes the shift along: Within 24 hours, Time declares that “name generators and quizzes are the new crosswords.”

March 4, later in the day: The backlash begins. Pastor Kevin Swanson takes to his online radio show to decry Disney’s covert “pro-homosexual agenda” “If I was the Devil,” he asks, “what would I do to really foul up an entire social system and do something really, really, really evil to 5- and 6- and 7-year-olds in Christian families around America?” Answer: Buy the studio and make Frozen. The backlash is short-lived.

March 19: The Frozen soundtrack returns to Number One for the third time – even Muhammed Ali only reclaimed his heavyweight title twice – and becomes the first album to sell a million copies in 2014 (2013 sales add an additional 338,000 to its cumulative total). New releases from Shakira, Iggy Azalea and 5 Seconds of Summer have no effect: It remains at the top of the charts until Now 50 knocks it off eight weeks later.

March 30: Frozen‘s global ticket sales cross $1.063 billion, and the film overtakes Toy Story 3 as the highest-grossing animated film of all time.

Early April: With Frozen merch – at least the good stuff – almost completely sold out, Elsa dresses that retail for under $150 begin to sell on eBay for over $1000.

April 10: Armin van Buuren debuts a majestic “Let It Go” EDM remix on Episode 658 of his “A State of Trance” podcast. “And there you have it!” the Dutch DJ says as the song comes to a close. “They ask me to trance it up, well there you go.” In June, he plays his creation during a 3 a.m. set at Vegas’ Electric Daisy Carnival.

April 17: Kristen Bell, the voice of Anna, visits Ellen to discuss the film: “I get so proud when I think I was a part of a project that’s shown to kids, ‘Just be who you are.'” Ellen attempts to capitalize off the merch shortage by selling “frozen” underwear – underwear sealed in a large block of ice.

May 16: The New York Times is on it, devoting 1,240 words to how much kids love Frozen. “Parents are using words like ‘obsessed’ and ‘cultlike’ to describe the force with which the film is capturing little hearts and minds unlike any in recent memory.” Go back to Weselton, conservative radio hosts: “A Manhattan mother said her son insists she call him Elsa while he runs around the house pretending to freeze everything.”

June 16: The New York Daily News, also on it. A trendpiece in the paper notes that grey hair has become increasingly popular and leads with the image of a woman who sports a gorgeous white streak. As the summer continues, artists like Kelis and Kilo Kish also rock a streak, but inexplicably, neither credit Princess Anna – who goes partially grey when her sister misfires some ice magic – for pioneering the style.

July 6: Travel Weekly reports that Frozen‘s popularity has led to an increase in Norwegian tourism. After Disney announced a series of cruises that travel around the country’s coast (which inspired the visuals for the fictional Arendelle), sales of summer travel packages rose 65 percent and New York-to-Oslo arrivals rose 57 percent.

September 4: The Frozen on Ice tour begins at Orlando’s Amway Center. It immediately becomes Disney’s most popular ice show of all time, selling 250,000 tickets on its first day and leading company to project total sales reaching three million.

October 23: The people at Party City, experts in this field, name “Frozen Fabulous” the top Halloween costume trend of the year, inviting “your little girl” to “have snow much fun” in a silver Elsa tiara and streaked Anna wig. Some – myself and perhaps the Manhattan mother – wonder why they had to make their advertisement so gender normative.

November 28: Christmas shopping season begins, and Frozen products, now stocked in ample supply, dominate. After the holiday, Amazon announces that its best-selling toy was the Sparkle Princess Elsa doll, its best-selling timekeeper was the Anna and Elsa Digital Watch and its best-selling piece of kid’s apparel was the Little Girls’ Disney Frozen Seven-Pack Panty Set. Frozen duct tape: also a hit.

November 30: Menzel tells The Independent that a Frozen sequel is “in the works.”

December 1: Menzel appears on Today to retract her previous statement.

December 12: Billboard releases its year-end album chart, and the Frozen soundtrack, selling nearly 3.5 million copies, beats Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and One Direction to come out on top. Disney Karaoke Series: Frozen EP sells more copies than both Enrique Iglesias’ Sex and Love, which includes one of the biggest Latin hits of all time, and Tim McGraw’s Sundown Heaven Town, which includes Tim McGraw.

December 30: Frozen ends 2014 as the year’s most popular DVD or Blu-Ray, nearly tripling the sales of runner-up The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.

December 31: Menzel welcomes 2015 with a “Thank you, I love you” when she performs alongside Swift, 1D and Florida George Line on Dick Clark’s New Year’s Rockin’ Eve with Ryan Seacrest! A new year approaches, but the frost remains firmly intact.

In This Article: Best of 2014, Disney, Frozen


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