'Into the Unknown: The Making of Frozen 2' shows how the Disney film changed after sharing its first previews
The first test screening showed that children had trouble following the movie's story, and several key scenes were added and reworked to make it easier for them to grasp
'Frozen' had captured the hearts and minds of hundreds and thousands of children across the world when it released in 2013. The makers of the movie knew, however, that when those audiences returned for the sequel in 2019, they would have matured significantly, and they wanted the movie to reflect that growth. Unfortunately, this meant that while the first version of the film, presented before test audiences, appealed to the adults in the room, it lost the children entirely.
This was a major problem for Disney. Even though the film was meant for audiences who had grown with the first film, children were still the core demographic of Disney's animated movie. The children in the test audience, who saw the first screening of the incompleted film, all enjoyed it, but had trouble understanding it and following the major plot points. Immediately after receiving audience feedback, screenwriter Jennifer Lee went back and reworked the script to make it easier for children to understand, which led to some key changes in the film, all of which had to be done in the mad rush to finish the movie in time for its release.
One of the key changes that were made was the inclusion of the scene where Olaf (Josh Gad) quickly but clearly explains the plot the first 'Frozen' movie. To those who had already seen the film, this might have seemed like an incomplete, albeit hilarious, recounting of 'Frozen,' but for newcomers, it was just enough to give those viewers a sense of what they needed to understand about the film's setting.
Another key change was the prologue. Initially, the film began with an unseen narrator explaining Northuldra, but the filmmakers felt the opening was part of what alienated viewers. The opening, they reasoned, showed unfamiliar territory, narrated by an unfamiliar voice. While this voice later turned out to be Agnarr (Alfred Molina), the father of Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell), the scene was reworked to show Elsa and Anna right from the start and beginning the movie with familiar faces to ground the viewers to the movie.
The changes that were made were definitely part of the film's success, as 'Frozen 2' went on to become the highest-grossing animated film of all time. It was a lot of stressful work at the time, but the crew put in the hours to make a quintessential Disney film -- one that could be enjoyed by adults, and children of all ages.
All episodes of 'Into the Unkown: The Making of Frozen 2' are available to stream on Disney+.