Will Olaf’s latest snow adventure forever tarnish Disney’s Frozen legacy? Disney has recently been in the middle of some controversy with the release of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a 21-minute cartoon, in front of Pixar’s Coco. Moviegoers took to social media and spoke to movie theater managers to demand answers about why audiences were subject to watching a 21-minute “short” after nearly 20 minutes of previews. The debacle has brought up similarities to another botched holiday special that Disney coincidentally now also owns. The TV special in question is the 1978 Star Wars: Holiday Special, which is also noted for an extremely negative reaction from fans and critics alike.
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was made with the intention to be shown as a TV special back in 2016. The 21-minute cartoon was still going to be released to ABC as recently as June of this year, but Disney decided to switch gears with the project and instead have put it in front of Pixar’s Coco, a decision that has backfired and has forced Disney to pull the short from theaters due to the overwhelmingly negative backlash. The length apparently isn’t the only problem that moviegoers are having with the new Frozen adventure. The songs in the holiday special have been deemed inferior to those of the original Frozen movie and the story has been called pointless, leading to many asking if it’s the new Star Wars Christmas Special.
The only redeeming quality of the 1978 Star Wars Christmas Special over time has been the introduction of Boba Fett, but that wasn’t realized at the time. So, it is possible that Olaf’s Frozen Adventure might have a gem of something good in it that will be revealed 40 years later. Olaf is already pretty widely compared to Jar Jar Binks, which begs the question why he was given his own special in the first place. It’s comparable to Han Solo and Chewbacca going back to the Wookie’s home planet of Kashyyyk to celebrate Life Day. It’s at that point where we are introduced to Chewie’s dad, wife and son, Itchy, Malla, and Lumpy, respectively. Talk about tarnishing the Star Wars universe, and only one year after the A New Hope hit theaters.
What both the Frozen franchise and Star Wars in 1978 benefitted from is that they released their crappy stuff before a sequel was put out in theaters. They both had insanely popular brands to work with and, ultimately save with sequels. In the case of the Star Wars Christmas Special, not too many people except for diehard fans even know that it exists, though it’s very easy to track down on YouTube these days (see below). Olaf’s Frozen Adventure on the other hand, has a disadvantage for coming out at a time where it seems that it will never go away completely, like chronic athlete’s foot.
The good news for Disney is that Frozen 2 is currently in the works and if done correctly, it will erase the damage that Olaf’s short has done to the brand. Star Wars bounced back with ease after the release of 1980’s The Empire Strikes Back, but had to endure nearly 2 years of embarrassment for the 2 hours of horrible variety show antics. With the Porgs coming up, Disney doesn’t need to bring in a Jar Jar Binks into its animated world to lead his own special, which is hopefully very evident now. If you’d like to read further about the Olaf’s Frozen Adventure backlash, head over to Looper.