Question: How do you follow up the highest grossing animated film in history?
Answer: With a huggable robot.
Next Friday, we will officially step into the era of the next Disney animated feature film. Although Frozen, the highest grossing animated film of all time, as well as one of the most widely embraced movies of this decade, is still popular as ever, it’s time to turn our sights over to Disney Animated Feature #54: Big Hero 6.
The superhero story, about a boy and his companion robot who join forces with a team of scientists to become a crime fighting team, is this year’s must-see animated movie. But following up Frozen is not an easy task.
Back in 1994, The Lion King was an unprecedented success. It was everywhere, just how Frozen is today. The next year, instead of a talking animal movie, Disney released a “princess” movie, with a heroine, a love interest and cute animal sidekicks. Pocahontas was expected to be Disney’s next triumph, its own West Side Story, but unfortunately, it lacked the appeal of The Lion King. Sure, it was commercially successful, but critics thought it was a bore and lacked the splendor of Disney classics of yore.
Today we find ourselves in a similar situation. Frozen has become a global phenomenon and we are at the threshold of a different kind of movie. Big Hero 6 does not have princesses, talking snowmen or power ballads. It’s a movie about superheroes and flying robots. Think of it as The Incredibles meets The Avengers meets The Iron Giant. I think we can safely say at this point that Big Hero 6 won’t have the immense appeal and global embrace that Frozen did. In fact, it will appeal to a totally different audience. However, we do have sky high expectations from it. As Disney fans, it’s what we tend to do. We want it to continue the hot streak Disney has had since 2008. We want to love this movie as much as we did Tangled and Wreck- It Ralph and Frozen.
We’ve reached a point where Walt Disney Animation Studios is once again on top of the animation game. The beloved studio knows its audience and the kind of movies it wants to see. Today’s WDAS movies aren’t cynical or lifeless like they were a decade ago. It’s because their three or four most recent films were so good, that we fans are basically demanding more.
And we probably will. Big Hero 6 already has a great level of pre-release buzz. All ten or so of its reviews (so far) have been unanimously positive. Not to mention the franchise potential of this origin story.
In all, I’m excited to see Big Hero 6. But more than that, I’m excited to see Disney doing something unique and different. Yeah, we love our princess musicals, but how about a squishy robot for a change?
It’s gonna be big.