Updated February. 04, 2014 07:22
Disneys Frozen has attracted six million Korean viewers in 18 days since its release on January 16. According to the Korean Film Council, it has set a new record of 6,004,181 viewers in Korea in animations as of Sunday, beating the record of Kung Fu Panda 2 (5.06 million in 2011). In addition, it ranked ninth in the non-Korean films, trumping Les Miserables (5.91 million in 2012) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (5.96 million in 2003). If the trend continues, it could be in top five on the non-Korean film list.
The movies soundtracks rank top in Korean music streaming websites, and the book is among bestsellers.
Adult audiences brought the success of the film, breaking the prejudice that animation films are for children. Many adults write postings praising the movie on Internet bulletin boards or social networking sites. The ratio of screens with dubbing and subtitles is often used to estimate the ratio of child viewership and young adult or older viewers, and subtitles (56 percent) surpassed dubbing (44 percent) this time as of Sunday.
Other Disneys princess movies such as Frozen include Merida and the Magic of the Woods (2012) and Rapunzel (2011), which accounted for 9 and 38 percent of the screens, respectively. Jeong Go-eun, a marketing associate at Disney Korea, said, Generally, animations that target children and family have more dubbings. But movie theaters including Frozen are increasing the percentage of subtitles as adults.
Experts say that Frozens popularity among adults is based on not-so-childish characters and its strong storyline. The movie is a makeover of Andersens fairy tale The Snow Queen and can be interpreted in various ways for both children and adults. Kang Yoo-jeong, a movie critic, said, While recent animations only made a parody of classics, Frozen created a new classic reflecting the changes of the time, based on the power of the fairy tale.
Disney, which was criticized for being U.S.-centric and patriarchal, has continued to transform itself. Anna and Elsa, the protagonists of the animation movie, tide over difficulties on their own unlike other Disney princesses who relied on princes.
The characters faces and low noses seem to have factored in non-western markets. Han Chang-wan, an animation professor at Sejong University, said, Disneys animations used to be centered on the U.S. Increasingly, but now Disney seems to consider other cultural backgrounds. Frozens characters are also multicultural and neutral.
Some say that Disney`s merger with Pixar in 2006 generated the success. John Lasseter, the co-producer of Frozen, is from Pixar and produced Toy Story. He leads the animation creative team of Disney and Pixar. Professor Han said, Frozen maintained Disneys traditions and added Pixars unique storytelling and speed.