For good reason: Olaf’s Frozen Adventure is 21-minutes long, and it comes nowhere near the heart-tugging prowess of Pixar shorts from movies past. Beyond that, the pairing makes Disney look culturally tone-deaf.
Droves of moviegoers that pushed Coco to the top spot at the Thanksgiving box office have been complaining for days about being forced to sit through the Frozen monstrosity. When I saw Coco with my family over the weekend, people behind me in the theater kept whispering, “When is this going to end?” My 4-year-old nephew was confused why we were seeing two movies back-to-back. I kept looking at my watch.
Similar tales of woe have been spreading online. A Reddit thread includes movie theater employees confessing that customers complained they were playing the wrong movie or that it was taking too long to get to the main feature. For my showing, Coco, which follows a young boy’s journey as he grapples with his family’s hatred of music and his desire to become a musician, didn’t start until about 40 minutes after the advertised showtime because of the short and several long, but expected holiday previews.
Coco, which weaves in the Mexican holiday of Dia de los Muertos as a driving force, has been widely praised, but it’s a real shame that the applause is coming with an asterisk. Coco was great, people are tweeting, but that Frozen short? What an atrocious waste of time.
Went to watch Coco, super adorbs! But that 20min Frozen “preview” was torturous.
— Angry Aims (@aims82) November 26, 2017
though the 20 minute Frozen short before it was….a bit much. even a little girl next to me loudly said “mommy I thought we were seeing Coco” in a very annoyed voice. same, girl.
— Stephanie (@ladyyfett) November 26, 2017
I watched Coco today and damn me if it isn’t a good representation of Dia de Muertos well at least it has the grasps of it and that telenovela part really digged it
PS. thanks for letting me know about frozen I just arrived 30 mins after the movie started
— Jose Garcia (@JayAGM) November 27, 2017
The FROZEN short before COCO unforgivably stretches the definition of “short.”
— Miguel (@miguel91915) November 26, 2017
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was originally supposed to air on ABC as a TV special around the holidays, but the final product felt too cinematic, according to the filmmakers, so Disney slated it for a theatrical run.
In Mexico, where Coco aired in October, an avalanche of complaints convinced some movie theaters to stop playing Olaf’s Frozen Adventure altogether. Interestingly, in the UK it aired in theaters with a re-release of the original Frozen and didn’t suffer the icy barbs of online hate. (Coco won’t be released there until January.)
The main complaint has been the short’s length. Since A Bug’s Life in 1998, Pixar has paired its features with five-to-six-minute animated shorts. In 2015, Disney played another Frozen short, Frozen Fever, ahead of the live-action Cinderella, but it’s runtime was only eight minutes.
Then there are the diehard Pixar fans like me who despise Disney for mixing its subpar made-for-TV sequel ad (Frozen 2 comes out in November 2019) with our precious Pixar treat. I, for one, usually love the Pixar short packaged with a feature. They’re smart, creative, heartwarming … and short. This, however, felt like Disney was spitting in my popcorn for 21 minutes, leaving me with a bag of soggy kernels.
Some have theorized that Disney combined Olaf’s Frozen Adventure with Coco to get audiences unfamiliar with Dia de los Muertos to the theater. If that’s the case — it’s unclear if it’ll play again with Coco in the UK or in other locales with later release dates — the supposed scheming isn’t winning goodwill with those who appreciated Disney-Pixar’s attempt to make a movie about a Latino family with care and authenticity.
My wife’s take on the not-good Frozen short that played before Coco: “I guess Disney wanted to show audiences a bunch of white people before showing them a bunch of brown people.”
— Zach Malm (@muzach) November 26, 2017
*at the Disney exec meeting*
Person 1: Coco has too many brown people. What will make white audiences go?
Person 2: Hmmm…you know what white people love more than anything else?
Per 1: What?
Per 2: More white people.
Per 1: Perfect. 30 min Frozen movie it is.
— Tyler Lucrecia (@yourfavnica) November 26, 2017
Indeed, let me watch a beautiful, diverse Pixar movie without having to sit through some Frozen mediocrity. American theater chains should take a cue from Mexico and put Olaf on ice.