Frozen is truly the gift that keeps on giving for Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) investors. The animated hit, which grossed $1.27 billion worldwide on a budget of $150 million, is now the highest grossing animated film in history.
Its soundtrack remained at the top of the Billboard 200 for 13 consecutive weeks and is still the seventh best-selling album in America. The Blu-Ray Collector's Edition of the film is now the second best-selling Blu-Ray of all time.
That's why Disney named Frozen as a major contributor to its top line for three consecutive quarters. But Frozen's icy blast can be felt beyond movies and music, since Disney repeatedly finds new ways to generate fresh revenue from the film, which hit theaters nearly 10 months ago. Let's take a look at the three coolest ways Disney keeps its Frozen empire from melting away.
Higher ratings for ABC
Disney's broadcasting segment (of which ABC is the main component) is often overshadowed by its cable networks, such as ESPN. The broadcasting segment only accounted for 28% of Disney's Media Networks revenue and 15% of its operating income last quarter, with the remainder coming from cable channels. ABC also finished the 2013-2014 season in third place among 18- to 49-year-olds and total viewers, trailing behind Comcast's (NASDAQ:CMCSA) NBC and CBS in Nielsen ratings.
However, Disney is trying to breathe new life into ABC with a double dose of Frozen.
On September 28, ABC's Once Upon a Time will return with live action characters from Frozen, including Elsa, Anna, and Kristoff in its eagerly anticipated Season 4 premiere. The story arc could boost the show's ratings, which have declined from 12.5 million Live+DVR viewers in the first season to 9.6 million viewers during the third. According to AdWeek, a 30-second ad spot on the show cost $141,500 last season -- which could rise considerably once Elsa and Anna make their live action debuts.
Disney will also release a new animated short, Frozen Fever, on ABC next spring. This "mini-sequel" will feature a new song, and could possibly serve as a prequel for the next full-length feature film. Both Frozen tie-ins could help ABC catch up to NBC and CBS in primetime ratings.
Higher attendance at theme parks
Disney's theme parks and resorts accounted for 32% of the company's top line and 22% of its bottom line last quarter. Revenue climbed 8% year over year while operating income surged 23%. However, the House of Mouse could enjoy even stronger growth ahead, thanks to new Frozen-themed attractions.
Disney recently gave Frozen fans new reasons to come to its theme parks. It introduced Frozen Summer Fun LIVE! at Disney's Hollywood Studios, which includes several Frozen-themed shows and attractions. At the Magic Kingdom, Cinderella's Castle will be transformed into an ice palace starting every night in early November. Last but not least, Disney will replace the Maelstrom ride in Epcot with a Frozen-themed ride.
To understand what a positive impact these enhancements could make on Disney's theme park and resort revenue, simply take a look at Comcast's Universal Studios in Orlando, home of the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction. The Harry Potter attraction has caused park attendance to spike more than 50% since 2010.
New books and toys
Disney is also releasing new books and toys to keep younger fans obsessed with the franchise.
Next January, Random House will start publishing a series of spin-off books which will continue where the film left off. The series will be written by Erica David, who previously penned adaptations of Spongebob Squarepants, Madagascar, and Spider-Man. These books will likely keep young readers interested in Frozen, while possibly laying out the foundations for a theatrical sequel.
Sales of Frozen-related toys also caused revenue at Disney's Consumer Products to rise 16% to $902 million last quarter. Some industry observers have estimated that annual sales of Frozen toys, games, shirts, and other products could top $1 billion by the end of the year. That would make Anna and Elsa nearly as popular as Mattel's Barbie, which generated $1.3 billion in sales last year.
A Foolishly Frozen final word
Frozen is a wonderful example of how Disney cashes in on its most popular franchises. It spreads the success from one business segment into as many of its other segments as it can. As a result, ratings at ABC could climb, theme park attendance could rise, and toy sales could skyrocket.
Of course, this will all whet fans' appetites for the next film, which could restart the entire cycle just as enthusiasm for the first film finally wanes.
Leo Sun owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.