If you thought that Disney's (DIS -2.60%) blockbuster franchise Frozen would finally melt away, think again -- Random House will soon publish a series of spin-off books starring Anna and Elsa.
The first two books -- Anna & Elsa #1: All Hail The Queen and Anna & Elsa #2: Memory and Magic -- will arrive on Jan. 6, 2015. The series, which will include "three to four" titles per year, will be penned by Erica David, who previously wrote novelizations of Spongebob Squarepants, Madagascar, and Spider-Man. The new books will pick up where the film left off.
While spin-off books of Frozen were inevitable, it's interesting to see how Disney evolved a classic fairy tale into a film, then back into print form again. Could this new strategy help Frozen get even bigger and set the stage for new films?
Elsa's icy empire
Frozen, which hit theaters last November, grossed $1.27 billion worldwide on a budget of $150 million, making it the highest-grossing animated film in history. Its soundtrack stayed at the top of the Billboard 200 for 13 consecutive weeks, and is still the sixth-best-selling album in America. The Blu-Ray Collector's Edition of the film, which was released in March, is now the second-best-selling Blu-Ray of all time, selling 6.4 million units and generating $133 million in additional revenue. DVD sales brought in another $114 million.
Therefore, it's not surprising that Disney has named Frozen as a top contributor to its top line for three consecutive quarters. Frozen's box-office revenue flowed into album and DVD/Blu-Ray sales, which then expanded into branded consumer merchandise and mobile games like Frozen Free Fall. Thanks to Frozen, revenue last quarter at Disney's consumer products and interactive segments respectively rose 16%, to $902 million, and 45%, to $266 million.
Looking ahead, Disney will extend Frozen's icy reach into its media networks segment by introducing live-action versions of Anna and Elsa in the fourth season of its ABC series Once Upon a Time. Frozen is also featured in Disney on Ice and will head to Broadway, following in the footsteps of The Lion King, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid.
What role will the new books play?
With Random House's new books, Disney will completely overwrite Hans Christian Andersen's original 1844 version of The Snow Queen with Elsa.
This isn't the first time Disney expanded a classic fictional universe with new books. Random House's Never Girls, which stars a group of girls who travel to Neverland, cleverly reversed the "lost boys" theme of J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan to appeal to girls instead. Speaking to The Wall Street Journal, Random House President Barbara Marcus said that Never Girls "fills a real niche in the chapter book market." Marcus also noted that the momentum of Frozen would only continue to grow, making it the "perfect focus" for a new book series.
Marcus certainly has a point. Frozen's Little Golden Book, a hardcover retelling of the film for young children, is currently No. 12 on Amazon's best-selling children's books. That puts it behind The Hunger Games, but ahead of four Harry Potter books -- not bad, considering that the little 24-page book was released before the film last October.
The new Frozen books will appeal to young readers who are too old for Little Golden Books but too young for violent teen hits like Twilight, The Hunger Games, and Divergent. By comparison, the Frozen books should be shorter and easier to read. For example, the Never Girls books are 128 pages long and written for kids 6-9. That's not to say, of course, that slightly older Frozen fans won't pick them up as well.
Stepping stones to a sequel
These new books could keep Frozen relevant for years to come, but more important, they could pave the way for new blockbuster films.
Disney hasn't green-lit a sequel for Frozen yet, but it is inevitable, considering how profitable this multi-platform money maker has become. A Frozen sequel could easily become much bigger than the original, considering that Toy Story 3 -- the second-highest-grossing animated film of all time -- nearly tripled the box-office return of the original film with $1.06 billion in box-office revenue. But unlike Toy Story, Frozen is a musical -- which means more memorable songs on chart-topping CDs could be on the way.
The Frozen takeaway
In conclusion, the new Frozen books will undoubtedly be best-sellers. They will also advance the film's story and possibly lay out the framework for future sequels. But most important, they will keep the film relevant, ensuring that "Let It Go" remains a childhood anthem for years to come.
So what's your take, Frozen fans? Are you excited about these new books, and how they could lead to new films and soundtracks? Sound off in the comments section below!