When audiences sit down to watch Pixar’s Coco in theaters next week, they’ll be delighted to discover that attached to the movie is a brand new animated short film set in the Frozen universe called ” Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.” The 21-minute featurette contains four new songs and brings back all the beloved Frozen characters, including Anna (Kristen Bell), Elsa (Idina Menzel), Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) and, of course, Olaf (Josh Gad), who takes center stage this time around.
Directed by Stevie Wermers-Skelton and Kevin Deters (Prep & Landing), ” Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” is set six months after the original 2013 feature and follows the lovable little snowman as he and Sven set out on a quest to make Anna and Elsa’s first Christmas together a special one. When he discovers that the sisters have no holiday traditions of their own — having been separated for most of their lives — he embarks on a journey throughout Arendelle to collect the best traditions he can find to make the holidays memorable. But of course, his mission isn’t as easy to undertake as he might hope.
Gad, the directors and veteran Disney Animation producer Roy Conli were on hand to introduce the film at a special screening for press not long ago at Disney Animation headquarters in Burbank, California. For Gad, voicing Olaf again and developing the still-naïve character was an exciting prospect. “It’s a thrill to come back and work with such a brilliant new team who’s taking this character and opening new doors for him to go through,” said the actor. “The first movie was so much about Olaf discovering. He’s almost like a newborn waking up. And so as we continue to tell these stories, what’s fun as an artist is to get to have Olaf be in a place where now he’s learning and growing emotionally and also in terms of getting an education. He’s seeing things and processing them, and I love that growth.”
When the team sat down to conceive the story, they started with essentially a blank slate and the setting of the holiday season. “When we think about holidays, what are some of the things you think about?” said Wermers-Skelton. “Traditions was one of the things that we came up with, and that seemed to segue so nicely into the fact that Olaf is brand new and wouldn’t have traditions, and also the girls wouldn’t have them either. So it seemed to fit really well right out of the gate.”
The directors, screenwriter Jac Schaeffer, the story team, and the songwriters — Elyssa Samsel and Kate Anderson — all worked together to create an adventure that they knew would have to stand tall in the wake of the original movie, which remains to date the biggest animated feature of all time. “[Stevie and I] have been directors at the studio for a while,” said Deters. “We watched [the original movie] come into its own but we were just as surprised as anyone else by the phenomenal success of it. So when John Lasseter asked us to step into the world and take on this project, we were a little intimidated by it, but at the same time, we knew that we had everyone there to support us. It was a great experience.”
While the highly anticipated sequel to Frozen still two years away (November 2019), “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” should serve as an adorable new tale on its own, as well as a way for fans to spend time in the world of Olaf, Anna, and Elsa as they wait for their next full-length adventure to arrive. “There’s not a day that goes by still where I don’t wonder how this became the biggest animated movie of all time,” said Gad, who added that he reads Frozen books to his two young daughters in the voice of Olaf. “And I think a part of it is that at its core, it’s a story about siblings, which is a very universal thing. Any of us who have grown up with brothers or sisters and now having two daughters, and seeing it through the prism of their eyes, it’s amazing to see how important this story, and Anna and Elsa’s journey, is to them. But I had no idea it was going to become the phenomenon it became.”
“Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” will play in theaters in front of Coco, starting Nov. 22.