Disney names Jennifer Lee co-director of “Frozen”

The news today from Disney annoucing the promotion of Jennifer Lee (Screenplay, Wreck-It Ralph) to co-director (with Chris Buck) of Disney’s next major feature, Frozen, has animation people buzzing. After the PR debacle over the replacement of Brenda Chapman on Pixar’s Brave, could this be a sign of trouble – or just business as usual?

All I know is the advance visuals I’ve seen on the film look spectacular and I am prepared for a Frozen treat when Disney releases it next winter. Here’s the studio’s full press release:

BURBANK, Calif. (November 29, 2012) — Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) taps Jennifer Lee to join Chris Buck at the helm of its 53rd full-length animated feature “Frozen,” which is slated for the big screen on Nov. 27, 2013. Lee, who has contributed to the film’s screenplay, is one of the screenplay writers of this year’s hit arcade-hopping adventure “Wreck-It Ralph.”

Featuring the voices of Kristen Bell and Idina Menzel, “Frozen” is the coolest comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen. When a prophecy traps a kingdom in eternal winter, Anna, a fearless optimist, teams up with extreme mountain man Kristoff and his sidekick reindeer Sven on an epic journey to find Anna’s sister Elsa, the Snow Queen, and put an end to her icy spell. Encountering mystical trolls, a funny snowman named Olaf, Everest-like extremes and magic at every turn, Anna and Kristoff battle the elements in a race to save the kingdom from destruction.

“Frozen” producer Peter Del Vecho says the match-up is perfect. “Jenn has a real connection to the film and creates dynamic and relatable characters. Her sense of comedy, adventure and story structure paired with Chris Buck’s vast experience and incredible instincts create an ideal situation for this film.”

Lee’s screen adaptation of John Steinbeck’s “The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights” is being produced by Troika Pictures. She has an original screenplay in development with Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way, and her original script “Lucid Dreams” was optioned by Wolfgang Peterson’s Radiant Productions. Lee holds an MFA in Film from Columbia University and a BA in English from the University of New Hampshire.

Buck directed (with Kevin Lima) Disney’s 1999 high-swinging feature “Tarzan,” which won an Oscar® and a Golden Globe® for Best Music/Original Song (Phil Collins’ “You’ll Be in My Heart”). He directed (with Ash Brannon) 2007’s Oscar-nominated “Surf’s Up” for Sony Pictures Animation. His credits within animation also include 1989’s “The Little Mermaid,” “The Rescuers Down Under” (1990) and “Pocahontas” (1995).

With original songs by Tony®-award winner Robert Lopez (“The Book of Mormon,” “Avenue Q”) and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (“In Transit”), “Frozen” journeys into theaters Nov. 27, 2013, in Disney Digital 3D™ in select theaters. For more information, like us on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/DisneyFrozen.


  • Alberto

    “…sidekick reindeer Sven”

    *sigh*

  • Silver

    “…a funny snowman named Olaf…”

    • J

      because all of us remember how much we hated Flounder or Sebastian or Abu, and how much they brought down the films THEY were in.

      Come on, guys! You have no solid reason to be pessimistic just yet.

      • Sotiris

        Oh really? Well, here’s a picture of Olaf. He’s like the snowman version of Tow Mater. He’s… Snow Mater.

        olaf

        • Steven M.

          That can’t be for real.

      • axolotl

        Flounder sucks.

        • Bud

          not as much as that really annoying, badly voiced, badly designed, and badly animated lefou character from Beauty and the Beast!

          • axolotl

            Agreed.

      • http://elblogderg.blogspot.com Roberto González

        I can’t say I’m liking the design (or even the idea) of the SnowMan, but , if anything, Abu, The Genie, Mushu , Sebastian, Timon, Pumbaa or Rafiki were more defined in their personality, better designed, funnier and more likeable than the respective ‘heros’ in those pictures.

  • bee

    …“Frozen” is the coolest comedy-adventure ever to hit the big screen…

    I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE

  • Uli Meyer

    “the coolest comedy adventure ever”.
    Another one.

    • http://wallysketches.wordpress.com Wouter

      No offense, but I’ve got the impression that puns are everywhere in American films, TV and media, at least of what I see here in Europe. (Most disturbing are the ones used by newsreaders, imo.)
      Even in excellent Pixar fims (”Bomb Voyage” to name one) you find a handful. Or look at the episode titles of the Simpsons for example.
      Don’t know if it’s a European/American difference or just me, but I hardly ever enjoy these puns.

  • Pedro Nakama

    The title card says, “Disney Frozen”.
    Now seriously… somebody at the studio has to work on that.

    • Bob

      That’s how Disney markets itself now. No more “Walt Disney Pictures Presents” or even “Disney’s”. The studio just slaps the name “Disney” alone on all its movies now.

    • Matthew Koh

      Pedro, this is the main reason why movies that had one or two word titles.

      http://youtu.be/ah-j2H8eM2w?t=30s

    • Inkan1969

      It’s a shoutout to the rumored fate of the company’s founder….

    • Bud

      WALT’S Frozen.

      Disney’s stagnant.

      • Daniel J. Drazen

        So many Walt Disney cryogenic jokes. So many….

      • zib zab zo

        Almost like the Beatles “Paul is dead”

    • http://she-thing.blogspot.com Caty

      bwahahahaahaha

  • http://ryanrosendal.blogspot.com Ryan

    Jennifer Lee is a real talent. WDAS is very lucky to have someone like her working for them.

    Bring on “Frozen!”

    • Lee

      You can have her if you like. No experience in directing or animation – just one screenplay to her name – and she had no hand in the story concept and played second fiddle to Phil Johnston on the book.

      WDAS looking for diversity no doubt. A horrible decision. I wonder if we will ever see supervising animators directing again.

    • Steve C.

      She’s pretty hot,too in that picture.IKdina Menzel’s voice is fabulous (she even appears on screen in Disney’s 2007 hit Enchanted as Patrick Dempsey’s gal).

  • Lauren

    “Disney frozen”
    Wow, people still believe in that rumour?

    • Nick Nerdlinger

      Perhaps they meant, “Wages Frozen”.

  • Mark R.

    Love reading these comments!

    reminds me of all these -

    http://www.cartoonbrew.com/disney/tangled-20814.html

    • Jon H

      Wow, I remember that. Really puts things in perspective.

    • Ara

      Perfect example of why we should not totally write off a movie based on a one or two pictures or stills.

      But reading the snarky comments is still fun.

  • Roo

    Jennifer Lee is not an artist?

    • http://mrcontro.tumblr.com Tres Swygert

      Lee Unkrich was a film major himself before he joined Pixar Studios as an editor…before working up the rankings to be co-director (Finding Nemo, Toy Story 2), to being the director (Toy Story 3, another new project for the future).

      • Daniel

        probably why the aesethetic taste on that show was just horrid..

    • bolasbolas

      I really like the idea of artist/writer combos. Not every talented story artist or animator can craft the best movie, and it’s pretty rare that a writer can understand the crazy process that goes into making an animated feature.

      In any case, it’s definitely worked for Chris Sanders and Dean Deblois.

      • optimist

        Both Chris AND Dean are highly skilled graphic artists. Dean also writes. Right now he’s a director/screenwriter.

    • Bud

      Yes, she is an artist. She’s a writer.

      • zib zab zo

        Hayo! Ping-pow! ‘zactly!

      • Roo

        I’ve been puff-n-swatted! Nicely played Bud. Nicely played.

  • Inkan1969

    First “Tangled”.

    Now “Frozen”?

    • Steven M.

      It appears to be a new trend for Disney, simplifying the titles to one word.

      • zib zab zo

        Yeah, they learnt’ from Pixar.

    • Nick Nerdlinger

      Next in line: “The”

  • Glowworm

    I’ll admit I’m a little bit worried about that snowman character–then again a lot of people were worried that Ray from “The Princess and the Frog” would be annoying–and he turned out to be pretty awesome actually.

    The main reason I’m a little worried about the snowman is that I feel like he’s a little far from the original story–a raven would make sense, as the tale already has one–even an animal such as a polar bear would make sense as they live in cold climates, but a snowman seems a little silly in my opinion. I’ll wait until I finally see a preview to figure out what I truly think of him.

    • M. Danby

      Wait, there was something awesome about ‘The Princess and the Frog?’

      Granted it was nice that Disney finally introduced a little diversity into one of its films but that movie was almost complete rubbish otherwise.

      • Glowworm

        Yes there was something awesome about “The Princess and the Frog” He was called Dr. Facilier and he was voiced by Keith David.

  • Mike

    Though I’m a little wary of seeing Disney slip into the unlikely-buddies adventure-comedy groove, I enjoyed Tangled and Wreck-it enough to be excited for whatever WDFA cares to cook up these days.

    • M. Danby

      I hardly think that Disney has “slipped” into anything. It’s more like they have been *carving* a groove for decades.. And decades… Oh yes, and decades.

  • Steven M.

    Why does the premise for this movie sound so agonizingly familiar?

  • Joel

    Disney’s impressed me as of late, so I’m looking forward to this! If I may nitpick, though, I just wish the title wasn’t just a one-word adjective. I wouldn’t mind seeing “The Snow Queen” any more than I’d mind seeing “Rapunzel” (which would be not at all).

  • Maya

    It all sounds so very paint-by-numbers, just like Tangled. I bet this Anna character is a princess too, as I suspect that non-princess female main characters have been deemed unprofitable, just like titles with more than two syllables or characters who aren’t white.

    • Barney Miller

      You mean Like Wreck it Ralph?

    • lilac elf

      What about mulan. She’s a non princess protagonist.

  • Alberto

    I’m not pessimistic about the movie at all, but does every movie have to have a funny animal sidekick?
    I loved Tangled, but the only reason that chameleon was in there was so they had a cute animal toy to sell. I cannot even remember it’s name, that how memorable it was to me.
    Then again, Maximus was awesome.

    • RickyB

      You’re right, she shouldn’t have had a character to voice her inner turmoil and thought processes to. She should have just sat in her tower talking to herself, not crazy at all.

      • Barney Miller

        So characters in live action films always have cute sidekick animals to voice their troubles to?

        • Erik

          Yes of course. Haven’t you seen countless protagonists talking to their dogs?

          • zib zab zo

            The main characters are usually boring. I’d prefer an animated film made up of ONLY sidekick characters.

        • Nick Nerdlinger

          [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, "It is OK to post with a nickname or alias, but your email address (which we will NEVER share publicly), must be a real, permanent email address. Comments with fake or non-permanent emails will be deleted."]

  • http://www.daryl-rhystaylor.co.uk DarylT

    Poor Disney. They make a harmless announcement and everyone on Cartoon Brew complains.

    • Nick Nerdlinger

      [Comment removed by editors. Per our commenting guidelines, "It is OK to post with a nickname or alias, but your email address (which we will NEVER share publicly), must be a real, permanent email address. Comments with fake or non-permanent emails will be deleted."]

  • Marc Baker

    It really bothers me how Disney just names their films with just one name rather than their original names. It just seems lazy, and generic to me.

  • http://youtube.com/user/Mesterius1 Mesterius

    I hope this film will be good… but the description in the press release makes it sound awful compared to Hans Cristian Andersen’s original (and beutiful) fairy tale.

    • Steve C.

      Wait,so this was based off a Hans Christian ANderson tale?

  • http://MrFun Floyd Norman

    We’re almost there. In twenty years or less there won’t be a single artist left at Disney.

    • Jon H

      How do you define artist?

  • Nic

    Idina Menzel?

    Forget the movie, just gimme the soundtrack!

    • Bud

      Sadly, the music and lyrics are by the same people who did pooh and avenue q, which means they’ll be bland, and without charm or wit.

  • Polecat

    “Chris Buck directed (with Kevin Lima) Disney’s high-swinging 1999 feature ‘Tarzan’ and Sony Pictures’ 2007 ‘Surf’s Up’.”

    Uh-oh…

  • Glowworm

    I’m going to admit something right now–I’m a fairy tale fanatic–however, I never got into “The Snow Queen.” It just wasn’t my favorite fairy tale. I’m curious to see what Disney does with it because they’ll most definately flesh out the title character–who had very little mention in the fairy tale despite being constantly talked about.

  • Chipotle

    I saw a lot of people noting the one-word title, but I think they didn’t name it ‘The Snow Queen’ because there’s a Russian (poorly) animated film coming out that’s based off the fairy tale and has the same name.

  • Chaz

    I’m sorry, but could you guys be a little more pessimistic? I saw a speck of Disney magic hiding in the corner and it’s been driving me nuts.

  • DC

    I wonder with all the negative comments, how many of those people went to see it and if they liked it. So easy to criticize. I saw it three times with my family. It is Disney and we loved it!