Back in the early days of cinema, it was pretty common for feature films to be preceded by a short film. This practice mostly died off in the 1950s, thanks mostly to the rise of television. In today’s world, it’s incredibly uncommon to see a short film before the feature starts; just a seemingly endless barrage of commercials and trailers.
There is, however, one studio that reliably produces short films to go along with their features: Pixar.
And just like the feature films they release, the short films that correspond with each feature tend to be high-quality. In fact, Pixar has won the Oscar for Best Animated Short Film four times, along with many other nominations.
However, the most recent short has sparked some controversy, so much so that it will be pulled from screenings of Pixar’s latest (wonderful) feature Coco starting December 8.
That short film is Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. If you have anyone under the age of ten in your immediate family, you can probably infer from the title that the titular Olaf is the same Olaf from the 2013 smash Frozen.
You would think that anything related to “Frozen” would go over well when paired with another family film, but not in this case.
So what happened? Here’s what you need to know.
A short film, as defined by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences, is any film less than 40 minutes in length. Under that guideline, “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” meets the short film requirement easily.
Yet if you asked most filmgoers, they would most likely classify a short film as closer to ten minutes in running time. Indeed, every other Pixar opener to this point has ranged between five to ten minutes.
“Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” clocks in at 21 minutes. That’s roughly the length of most sitcom episodes, sans commercials.
In most normal settings, asking an audience to watch a 21 minute film wouldn’t be much of a problem. If people can sit through 3 ½ hours of Avatar, they can digest a 21-minute short.
The problem here is conditioning.
Now that Pixar has been making films for over two decades, most audience members know to expect a short film directly preceding the feature. Those same audience members, however, are expecting something closer to ten minutes.
As such, you can find two common reactions from people on social media who have seen “Coco:”
- It’s terrific, and
- Why was that “Frozen” spin-off so long? I thought I was in the wrong theater
A bevy of moviegoers have complained about the bloated length of “Frozen Adventure.” Indeed, many have reportedly left the theater out of confusion.
The confusion is not helped at all by the fact that “Frozen” is a non-Pixar entity. “Frozen” was produced by Disney, Pixar’s parent company. So even though there is a connection, most moviegoers do not associate “Frozen” with Pixar, which led many to believe that they were in the wrong theater.
Now you might say, “So what if it’s long? Is it any good?” Indeed, legendary film critic Roger Ebert once said that, “No good movie is too long.”
Unfortunately in the case of “Frozen Adventure,” audiences tend to believe it is at best mediocre. There are *four* musical numbers, none of which inspire like the original “Frozen” did. There’s nothing as catchy as “Let It Go,” but then again, most communicable diseases aren’t as catchy as that song.
What Happens Next?
It is incredibly rare for films to be altered while in the midst of their initial theatrical run. However, Pixar has long been a studio that holds many distinguishing factors, and they will be again when they drop “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” come December 8.
This debacle has hardly spoiled Coco’s reputation. The film has been the number one film at the box office for two consecutive weeks, whilst scoring a rare perfect A+ rating on Cinemascore.
And it’s hard to imagine that this episode will deter Disney’s plans for the “Frozen” franchise. The sequel is still set for release on November 27, 2019.
As of the writing of this post, no plans are set. There’s no hint as to whether or not it will be included as a bonus feature on DVD or Blu-ray. That would not be surprising, nor would a slot on the Disney Channel’s lineup. With the addition of commercials, “Frozen Adventure” could easily fill a 30-minute slot.
There is also no word as to whether or not it will be replaced by a different short while “Coco” continues its theatrical run. If there’s no word up to this point, the answer is most likely no.
Even the best fail from time-to-time.
Pixar has failed to meet expectations in the past (*cough* the Cars franchise *cough cough*). But these missteps have hardly hindered Pixar in the past; the studio remains as the most powerful entity in family-friendly entertainment to this day.
Just like the main character in every one of their movies, hopefully Pixar has learned their lesson.