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How ‘Frozen’ Became This Year’s Surprise Holiday B.O. Present

Disney toon about to surpass domestic total of studio's 2010 pic "Tangled"

The Cinderella story of this year’s holiday box office is … go figure, Disney’s newest princess movie, “Frozen.”

Yet, despite the surprise success of its 2010 predecessor princess pic, “Tangled,” which grossed nearly $600 million worldwide, the path to B.O. glory for the Mouse’s latest fairy-tale treatment was nowhere near a slam dunk.

SEE ALSO: Disney’s Princesses: From Snow White to ‘Frozen’

Frozen,” which so far has amassed more than $344 million worldwide and counting, features likely one of the most rewarding — though some might call it misleading — marketing campaigns of the year that successfully sold young boys on a story about two princesses all without ignoring its core audience of young girls.

For its first “Frozen” spot, Disney essentially released a standalone short featuring the film’s main sidekick characters — Olaf, the enchanted snowman, and Sven, the reindeer. Though elements from that promotion ultimately were incorporated into the feature film, the first-look trailer not only helped lay the ground work for the film with young boys, it also kick-started an important merchandising campaign centered on the Olaf character.

Disney’s official U.S. trailer featuring actual footage from the film similarly skirted around the princess plot, while the international trailer was sold as a much darker tale.

It was a risky move by Disney to sell a much fluffier version of “Frozen.” The studio chanced alienating audiences after they actually saw the film, which actually is a much deeper and richer experience than its promotions suggest — though one that young children may not wholly appreciate.

Still, word-of-mouth has been stellar for the toon as evidenced by its leggy box office performance. In its fourth weekend of wide release, “Frozen” fell just 13%, which was enough to eclipse Sony’s “American Hustle” in its first nationwide outing.

While “Frozen” is not the only holiday family film — Fox just bowed “Walking With Dinosaurs,” which “Frozen” crushed — it is the most obvious. Even Warner Bros. is trying to capitalize on the underserved family market with “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug,” though that film is not as suitable for parents with young children.

The B.O. limits for “Frozen” are lofty since Christmas is a highly lucrative time.

Domestically, “Frozen” is about to surpass the $200 million Stateside total of “Tangled,” plus the holiday pic has significant room to grow internationally. “Frozen” has yet to bow in places like Australia, Brazil, China and Japan.

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