Three of Disney’s most popular animated franchises are getting new installments. Sequels in the “Frozen” and “Zootopia” series are both in development at Walt Disney Animation Studios, while a fifth film in the “Toy Story” series is in the works at Pixar.
News of these sequels was revealed by Walt Disney Corporation CEO Bob Iger during the company’s Q1 2023 earnings call on Wednesday.
“Today I’m so pleased to announce that we have sequels in the works from our animation studios to some of our most popular franchises, ‘Toy Story,’ ‘Frozen’ and ‘Zootopia,'” Iger said during the call. “We’ll have more to share about these productions soon, but this is a great example of how we’re leaning into our unrivaled brands and franchises.”
The announcement of these three sequels followed some brutal news from Iger, who shared that 7,000 employees would be laid off at the company. Earlier, the company’s earnings report revealed a 2.4 million loss in subscribers from the Disney+ streamer.
No further information about these upcoming films, including the creative teams for the installments and potential release dates, was shared during the call. The “Frozen” sequel will be the third in the franchise after the initial 2013 film and 2019’s “Frozen II,” while the “Zootopia” sequel will be the first followup to the 2016 film. The upcoming “Toy Story” movie follows 2019’s “Toy Story 4,” as well as last year’s spinoff “Lightyear.”
All three franchises are some of Disney’s most successful animated properties. “Frozen II” is the 13th highest grossing film of all time and the highest-grossing Walt Disney Animation Studio film, raking in $1.45 billion at the global box office. “Toy Story” is the 20th highest-grossing film series of all time with a $3.2 billion total worldwide gross, and the fourth entry made $1.07 billion at the box office, although “Lightyear” underperformed. “Zootopia” is only slightly less popular compared to those two juggernauts, ranking as the 47th highest grossing film of all time with a $1.023 box office total.
Since the pandemic began in 2020, Disney animated films have struggled to succeed in theaters. Last year’s “Strange World” bombed at the box office when it premiered during Thanksgiving, grossing $73.4 million worldwide and causing a $147 million loss for the company. “Encanto” performed below expectations in 2021 with a $256 million worldwide gross, though the film eventually became a word-of-mouth hit when it premiered on Disney+. Besides the underperforming “Lightyear,” Pixar’s films have mostly been cosigned to Disney+ since 2020’s “Onward’s” theatrical release was derailed by Covid.
The “Frozen” franchise focuses on Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell), the princesses of the fictional kingdom of Arendelle, and the adventures they are propelled into by Elsa’s magical ice-generating powers. Both films were directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, featuring songs from Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez. The original film was the first Walt Disney Animation Studio film in history to receive the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and also spawned the Best Original Song “Let It Go.”
“Zootopia” is set in a universe populated by anthropomorphic mammals, and stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps, a police officer/rabbit who teams up with foxy con artist Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) to solve crimes in the titular city. The original film, directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, won the 2017 Best Animated Feature Oscar.
The “Toy Story” franchise focuses on toys that come to life when their owners aren’t looking, with the first four films focusing on the friendship between cowboy doll Woody (Tom Hanks) and space ranger action figure Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen). The fourth film seemingly ended with both characters separating and saying goodbye forever, leaving it unclear if both will be in the next movie. Josh Cooley directed the fourth film, which — along with the third — won the Best Animated Feature Oscar.
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