The highly successful and dearly loved Frozen 2 opened in theaters this past November and to no one’s surprise, became another box office hit as it was the highest grossing animated film of all time.
Now fans of the snow queen can rejoice because the film will finally be available on digital on February 11 and blu ray on February 25. What better way to celebrate the in-home release of such a spectacular film than a behind the scenes press day at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, CA.
Press were treated to a day full of Frozen related activities including an inside look at making the film’s most memorable scenes, sing along recording booth sessions, interactive bonus screenings, filmmaker Q&A’s and interviews with the genius’ behind the movie making magic. Upon entry into the famous Walt Disney Animation Studios, visuals of our favorite characters were plastered on the walls including drawings and models of the characters in Moana, Zootopia, Lilo & Stitch and Wreck it Ralph, just to name a few. Guests were ushered into a main lobby where a beautiful black piano stood in the center of the room labeled with a sign for Disney’s Frozen 2. Shortly after we were broken up into smaller groups and directed to our first presentation with the artists and storytellers of Frozen 2. We were given exclusive behind the scenes knowledge of what went into creating “Show Yourself” and “Gone Too Far” which will be available for viewers to see in the digital and blu ray release. Ahtohallan was a crucial conclusion to the Frozen story and the culmination of Elsa’s journey and during the presentation we learned the intricacies and gravity of the emotional scenes.
Following that presentation, we were able to meet the team behind “Lost in the Woods” famously song by Jonathan Groff who plays Kristoff. The tough ice harvester finally finds the freedom to let out his emotions and thanks to his dear and trusty reindeer friend, Sven he breaks out into an emotional rock ballad inspired by hits from the 80s. Through this presentation we learn how song, story, and animation combined to create this fan favorite sequence. So now it was our turn to take everything we learned and apply it to our very own recording session. Each guest was encouraged to get in the booth and do our best to sing along to “Lost in the Woods,” let’s just say I’ll leave the singing to Kristoff. Shortly after clearing the room out with my off-key singing, all guests were directed to the main lobby for a special treat.
Composers for both Frozen films, Bobby and Kristen Lopez performed songs from Frozen 2 including “Into the Unknown” which was sung by Idina Menzel in the film. The duo has been married for 17 years and co-writing music for over a decade. Frozen has become quite the family affair with both their daughters having voice parts in Frozen and Anderson-Lopez’s sister, Kate Anderson co-wrote songs for Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. After the musical intermission, the group broke for lunch and interviews with directors, Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee and producer, Peter Del Vecho as well as composers Bobby and Kristen Lopez. We ended the day with interviews with Jason Ritter [Ryder] and Rachel Matthews [Honeymaren]. Check out The Knockturnal’s exclusive interviews below where we discuss behind the scenes of creating Frozen 2, controversy with Elsa and Honeymaren and possibilities for a Frozen 3.
The Knockturnal: So, you guys hopped onto an extremely successful franchise, so being the newbies, did you learn anything surprising about the cast or just how the making of Frozen goes?
Rachel Matthews: Yes, all of the above. I think especially on, I mean the cast as a whole I was hoping they’d be really lovely and nice because I’m such a fan of the first one but they exceeded my expectations, like they genuinely just embraced us with like the biggest welcome and I’m forever grateful for that. And in terms of the making, I’ve never done voiceover before so everything was so new to me and exciting and I really, you know I’ve watched behind the scenes but I didn’t really know what goes on until I was in it, yea it was surreal.
Jason Ritter: I was surprised by how much freedom there was and how much sort of moving. I always in my head, which a lot of the times was like, oh that’s not based on any actual knowledge, that’s just something I made up because I assumed but I thought like especially in movies that are this big and trying to reach this many people that like every single thing from script on has been signed off on and then locked in place and that’s it and we’ve all agreed that this is exactly how we’re gonna tell the story and so to have there be this kind of ebb and flow of like, we’re not doing that scene anymore because we watched it and it didn’t quite work so the ability to kind of be mobile and flexible and change things and make things better, you know the best idea in the room wins, it was really surprising. I was like oh, I was really nervous that I would have to come in, like hit like a bulls eye that I’m like, oh I don’t know what I’m doing but they were like, what do you have to bring to this and let’s play around and we’ll make it all work.
Rachel Matthews: Yeah, I think that’s the key, is play. It was so playful; I was not expecting it to be that playful.
The Knockturnal: Awesome! Well considering it is voiceover work, do you spend most time alone? Do you get to work with the cast?
Jason Ritter: No, we only met about a year ago after most of, my recording had been done, I think I maybe went in a couple more times after that but yeah, we never met each other. I think there was one time where they played me what Jonathan [Groff] had recorded on his side of a scene but sometimes they haven’t recorded their side yet so you’re the first one and you’re just kind of hoping that it’ll all match up and yeah, I actually met Jonathan at the premiere. That’s the first, even though our characters have the most sort of conversations in the movie.
Rachel Matthews: Yeah I met Idina [Menzel] at the cast dinner and it’s yeah, we don’t get to work with each other but can’t complain because we get to read opposite Jen [Lee] and Chris [Buck], they’re the ones that really act with you and they give you a lot to work with so…
Jason Ritter: Yeah, they’re lovely. Lovely human beings as well as genius.
The Knockturnal: Right! Rachel you once said that for your audition for Frozen 2 you sang “Wicked Game” by Chris Isaac. Now this is such a big audition, how did you choose this song?
Rachel Matthews: I did. So it’s funny because I remember I was flying back from New York, even getting the audition in the first place was so spontaneous and kind of just a random occurrence and I was looking at the, they would give you examples of songs they would suggest but they said you could sing whatever you wanted and that’s a song just based on the character description and the monologue just came to me and my sister’s a musician and we always cover that song together so I feel like, especially knowing that my nerves are gonna be extremely high, singing a song that I’ve song multiple times also I can sing a Capella, it just made sense. And thankfully it worked that Jamie Roberts, casting director was like, bring in sheet music for that for the producer’s session. I was like great, didn’t have to change my song so it worked.
The Knockturnal: And then Jason, your character Ryder somewhat talks to reindeers so if you could speak to any animal…
Rachel Matthews: He can actually himself.
Jason Ritter: I can actually, well I can understand what they’re saying but they can’t understand me.
The Knockturnal: If you did have this power though to speak to any type of animal you wanted, what would you choose?
Rachel Matthews: That’s a great question.
Jason Ritter: I would say cats but we all now know from the movie what they would sound like so I think I would probably just say dogs so mainly I can talk to my dogs.
Rachel Matthews: That’s a lot. You’d be hearing a lot of talk. That’s a lot going on.
Jason Ritter: Yeah there’s a lot of just like, love me, love me, love me, I love you, do you love me, love me!
Rachel Matthews: I think you’d regret that decision super fast.
Jason Ritter: Yeah, maybe I would. Maybe cats would be better conversationalists.
The Knockturnal: There is a lot of controversy surrounding your character. People are guessing that in Frozen 3 that Elsa will be the girlfriend of Honeymaren, so can you confirm that at all?
Rachel Matthews: I can’t confirm that I’m sorry. I don’t even know if we’re getting to do a Frozen 3, I’m hopeful that we are. But it has been, that’s been one of my favorite parts actually is just seeing how passionate the fans are and from Honeymaren and Elsa to Ryder and Kristoff to some of the songs and all the new characters and it’s really fun because I’m such a huge fan to see it like on the other side and it’s special.
The Knockturnal: Frozen has become quite the family affair for you guys. Your daughters were voice actors and then your sister co-wrote a song, so I want to know how your house is, are you like decked out in Frozen gear? Who’s the biggest fanatic?
Kristen Anderson-Lopez: I mean yes, we have a lot of Frozen stuff. Right now I have this awesome pair of Elsa’s boots that I got from the Japanese branch of animation and they’re in our, we have an awards cabinet where we hold, but these boots just make me happy every time I look at them.
Bobby Lopez: Yeah, they’re sick. I like buying the toys. I like buying the toys, I don’t even like when they send them to us. I like going to the store and getting them because it’s like, you know I grew up buying toys from movies.
The Knockturnal: So you guys co-write these songs together, this could be a good or bad thing that you guys are a married couple, how is that process like? Do you fight?
Kristen Anderson-Lopez: Over the years it’s gotten easier and easier. I would say, early in our collaboration, and this is like when we were working on Finding Nemo the musical that’s down in Disneyworld, we get competitive. Over the years we’ve really gotten rid of that piece of it and I think our marriage has also deepened as our communication has had to get better.
Bobby Lopez: The level of acceptance has really risen, and we accept ourselves and we accept each other, and we give each other appreciation a lot more than we ever used to and it’s just, and it actually is kind of heaven to just be writing a song with Kristen.
Kristen Anderson-Lopez: Aw he’s going to get emotional.
Bobby Lopez: It’s the best, it’s the best.
The Knockturnal: And I learned that you guys actually go through many versions of songs before you actually put it out, so how do you decide what is the final song, it’s done, there’s no more alterations needed?
Kristen Anderson-Lopez: Well we’re lucky because we don’t have to decide that. The audience decides that, and the audience decides that, and the directors are listening, so we get many many chances to crack this story and crack these songs. The way it works is very, there’s like seven screenings over three years so that means you got one version of the show, one script that you’re writing a couple songs for and then you get a lot of feedback and sometimes the story totally changes and maybe one of those songs gets to the next screening which is a totally different story and different dialogue and this happens seven times. So by the end, the songs that are there have been vetted very carefully by a very vigorous process that holds us to the highest standard.
Bobby Lopez: No one holds back.
The Knockturnal: So, when I first heard “Let it Go,” even before watching the movie it was immediately stuck in my head. I just found myself randomly, even now, breaking out in “Let it Go” song so what is one song that just gets stuck in your guy’s head?
Kristen Anderson-Lopez: Oh gosh you know, don’t worry doo doo doo, be happy doo doo doo [whistles], you all will be singing it all afternoon.
The Knockturnal: I wish I could whistle; I can’t whistle. What about for you?
Bobby Lopez: Oh, just yesterday we were watching tv and there were these, were they plumbers? There were some kind of singing ad for plumbers and the guys sang, I can’t remember it anymore, but I could not stop singing it.
The Knockturnal: So, commercials get you? I can appreciate that.
The Knockturnal: So, you are the first female director for a Walt Disney Animation feature film and the first female director to earn over one billion dollars in gross box office revenue which is phenomenal, congratulations but what does all that mean to you?
Jennifer Lee: Well I think that I hope I’m just part of a great new wave of change that’s happening, and what’s wonderful here is we have two more female directors so I’m not the only one and I work with an incredible group of guys who are really supportive of me and my new role so I feel like in a great way Disney Animation is living sort of in a great place in the industry of letting female creatives be there.
The Knockturnal: I’ve also learned today that there is so much work that goes into this movie. I mean just even a hand gesture or facial expression, there’s so much work so I was wondering after you guys see the final product in theaters, do you guys ever wish you could tweak something else?
Peter Del Vecho: For me I’m just amazed we can actually see it on the screen, we actually finished it. It’s hard not to watch the movie though without seeing all the individual artists and what they contributed all along the way.
Jennifer Lee: Though I have to give a shout out to Steve Goldberg because there are a couple of shots in Frozen one that really, he’s our effects sup, that kept us both up at night afterwards going ugh, and this time we kept testing each other, is this the shot that’s gonna keep you up at night because we’re going to fix it and so he was right there with us. There were a couple of moments where we would just look back at him and he’d be like, we gotta change it, I hear ya. So I think Frozen 2 had fewer than Frozen 1.
The Knockturnal: Now Frozen 2 answered a lot of questions that viewers had from Frozen but there’s still so many questions and it’s not confirmed if there’s a Frozen 3 or 4 but how do you guys decide when you’ll answer it? Do you just tackle it one movie at a time or is there already an outline?
Chris Buck: No this was one movie at a time definitely. We didn’t even think about a second one until about a year after the first one had come out and that’s when we were getting the questions about why does Elsa have powers and we were hearing that from a lot of people and we were starting to ask the same questions. So, we looked at Frozen 1 and Frozen 2 as kind of one story so beyond that who knows, you can ask us in a year.
The Knockturnal: Also, from the behind the scenes footage we learn just giving the characters names, is also quite the process. So I just want to know, what inspires the names of the characters?
Jennifer Lee: Yeah we do a balance of, sometimes it’s inspiration from the region that inspired us, so Scandinavian names and things but often what they mean deep down that signal something about the character and I know like the salamander Bruni, it means fire in old North. Like there are things like that but we have a lot of fun. Also sound, names against each other which is important. If you have too many O names you can’t keep them, it’s funny it’s not scientific but it is a long process, you’re right.
The Knockturnal: I’m assuming if you work in animation you got to love animation and cartoons so just what were your favorite cartoons you were watching growing up?
Chris Buck: Oh yeah, we kind of know everybody’s favorites here. Mine was Pinocchio, it was the first film I saw in theaters, loved it from the beginning, still do. I think it’s one of my favorite animated movies and just watched animation my whole life and cartoons on TV I’ve always be in that world so.
Jennifer Lee: I’m Cinderella but I think I probably watched The Little Mermaid almost as much.
Peter Del Vecho: Certainly Saturday morning cartoons are a big part of growing up but for me the first movie was Bambi.
The Knockturnal: And how are you guys feeling about this new wave, these live-action films?
Jennifer Lee: I mean its kind of flattering in a way because it says something wonderful about the classic storytelling that we tell. I think they are striving to do something completely different which I can respect too. Animation to me, I say are you striving for reality or are you trying to transcend reality and animation transcends reality and I love that about it, that’s why I work in animation but now with technology they’re able to create something that feels like the real world is really fun too.