The success of “Frozen” is remarkable: the film became the top-grossing animated movie of all time and the fifth-top grosser ever inside of the ten months since hitting theaters, earning $1.273 billion worldwide (only $400 million of which came from the U.S.). But what was doubly remarkable is that the movie managed its record-breaking numbers the old-fashioned way: as a slow burner, through word of mouth.
Films are increasingly front-loaded these days (it took “The Avengers” only a little over three weeks to make it to the $500 million mark in the U.S), but “Frozen” wasn’t particularly anticipated, gathering steam only after winning over the hearts and minds of multiple-viewing-demanding kids worldwide (it was famously number one at the Japanese box office for sixteen weeks). Much of the credit for that success should go to co-writer/director Jennifer Lee, who has become the top-grossing female helmer in history thanks to the film’s monumental drawing power. And she’s just lined up her next project.
According to Variety, Lee (who previously co-wrote “Wreck-It Ralph“) will be re-teaming with Disney for her adaptation of the beloved novel “A Wrinkle In Time.” Madeleine L’Engle‘s 1962 book, apparently a favorite of the filmmaker’s, sees four children traveling through the universe in search of their missing father, and was previously made as a 2003 TV Movie that aired on the Disney Channel. This new version has been in development at Disney for four years, with “Bridge To Terabitha” writer Jeff Stockwell previously hired to write, but Lee apparently pitched a new approach that has Disney execs excited (she could do worse than to take a leaf from Hope Larson’s excellent recent graphic novel version).
The project promises to combine the female-driven action of “Frozen” with the cosmic world-hopping of Disney’s latest hit “Guardians Of The Galaxy,” so it’s no wonder that this film will become a priority, especially with three literary sequels to make it franchise-ready. Right now, Lee’s only committed to write the script, but if she should want to direct as well, it’s hard to imagine Disney declining to back her live-action directorial debut. There’s no timeline yet and probably no rush, given that Disney is increasingly stacked with Marvel, Star Wars and Pixar projects, but we’d certainly be intrigued to see Lee’s take on non-animated film. In the meantime, she and “Frozen” co-director Chris Buck are hard at work alongside Walt Disney Animation’s brain trust, with “Big Hero 6” the next to hit, on November 7th.