Little girls around the world are not the only ones jumping at the news that a Frozen 2 film has finally been given the green light – Disney shares also leapt after the announcement at the company’s shareholder meeting in San Francisco.
Confirmation that production has begun on a sequel to the highest-grossing animated film in history – with Frozen directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck once again on board – prompted Disney stock to rise by $4.28 on the New York Stock Exchange to close on Thursday at $107.17, 25% up in the past year.
The announcement was made on Thursday, a day before before the seven-minute short film spinoff, Frozen Fever, opens for Disney’s live-action movie Cinderella in cinemas.
“We enjoyed making Frozen Fever so much and being back in that world with those characters,” said John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios. “Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck have come up with a great idea for a sequel.”
Lasseter appeared on stage alongside Josh Gad, the voice of the snowman Olaf in the first Frozen film, which told the story of Queen Elsa and Princess Anna (Idina Menzel and Kristin Bell), two royal sisters living in an icy Nordic kingdom.
Olaf will return in Frozen 2, Disney confirmed. After the announcement, Gad expressed his joy in an Instagram photo of him grinning from ear-to-ear with Lasseter, captioned: “As you can see we are not mildly excited.”
While not yet confirmed for the sequel, Menzel, who won an Oscar for Frozen’s hit song, Let It Go, hinted at her involvement in December 2014. Meanwhile, Bell tweeted on Thursday: “Dreams really do come 2!!!” A full cast list and release date for the film is still to be announced.
Make Today a Perfect Day, a song featuring Menzel and Bell as Elsa and Anna, became available for purchase on iTunes ahead of Frozen Fever’s premiere on Friday. Gad said of the new song: “If history is any indicator, kids will go nuts.”
Frozen is the highest-grossing musical of all time as well as topping the animation box office, and its worldwide total of $1.3bn puts it at number five in the list of all-time grossers. As a global merchandising phenomenon – more than three million Elsa dresses have sold worldwide – the film has helped push Disney to record profits.
The company also used Thursday’s meeting to announce its latest plans for the Star Wars film franchise. The eighth episode in the series will be released on 26 May, 2017, it was announced, and a spin-off film, Rogue One, starring Oscar nominee Felicity Jones, will debut in December 2016, shortly after the release of the seventh episode, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
Investors re-elected 10 board members at the meeting, including the chief executive, Bob Iger, who has led Disney through a blockbuster 2014 thanks to the popularity of Frozen and a good year for its theme parks. Iger, chief executive of the company since 2005 and chairman since 2012, received $43.7m in 2014, up 27% from the previous year.
An attendee asked Iger whether Disney employees would also get a raise. He said that, after increasing basic pay to $10 an hour for employees covered by one of its largest unions, Disney has extended the commitment to all hourly employees.