If there is one thing Disney knows, it's how to milk a franchise. After the record-breaking success of Frozen and its sequel, the Mouse Empire has announced a short film detailing the origins of the breakout character from the series, the snowman Olaf, voiced by Josh Gad.
The short, titled Once Upon a Snowman, will delve into the unknown past of Olaf. In the original Frozen, Elsa created the perky snowman using her ice powers, after which he disappeared from the narrative for some time, before being found by Anna and Kristoff, and joining them on their quest to bring Elsa back to Arendelle.
The upcoming short will explore the time between Olaf's creation and his becoming a part of Anna's team, answering such questions as how Olaf was separated from Elsa in the first place, how he came to love summer so much, and what he was up to in the snowy mountains outside Arendelle while on his own.
The project will be headed by Trent Correy, who was the animation supervisor for Olaf in Frozen 2, along with veteran story artist Dan Abraham, who worked on Olaf's "When I Am Older" musical sequence in Frozen 2, and will be acting as the director for the short. Nicole Hearon and Peter Del Vechowill are attached to the project as producers. According to Correy and Abraham, the idea for Once Upon A Snowman was first formed while working on the movie that kickstarted the franchise.
"This is an idea that started to form when I was an animator on the first Frozen. Dan Abraham and I are so grateful and excited to have had the opportunity to direct this short, working with our incredible colleagues at Walt Disney Animation Studios. Josh Gad gives one of the great animated voice performances as Olaf through the Frozen films. To have the opportunity to work with him in the recording booth was such a privilege and career highlight."
This is not the first time that the character of Olaf has been mined for short content. While the lockdown was in full effect, a series of 20 shorts titled At Home with Olaf were created by Disney featuring the snowman indulging in a series of hi-jinks. It is clear that the series was a huge success, hence Disney's interest in creating another short, this time more directly related to the main franchise.
The difficulty in making live-action content in the new era of social distancing means Disney is putting greater focus on their animated content, where the world of Frozen leads the pack in popularity. It is quite possible that Olaf's popularity might result in a standalone movie someday. Something similar happened with the character of Puss in Boots in the second Shrek movie, voiced by Antonio Banderas, who proved so popular with audiences that he eventually got his own spinoff origin movie.