Frozen Breaks Animation Record

Over the weekend some great news:

Disney’s hit film “Frozen” has become the top-grossing animated film in box office history, knocking Woody off his pedestal. With its opening in Japan this weekend, “Frozen” has taken the top spot and pushed its worldwide box office to an estimated $1.072 billion, pushing past “Toy Story 3.”

Opponents of this blog have long argued that without subsidies and unorganized cheap labor, Hollywood would not be able to make successful movies. However Frozen is a glowing example that you can make successful movies with unions, no subsidies, and lots of great VFX. Oh and break some huge records too.

It’s also worth pointing out that this isn’t an exception, the most successful animated films have followed same course. What’s amazing to me is that given the parity in the skills for VFX, we haven’t really seen this trend in the international locations. Has there recently been a similar successful film like Frozen where it received no subsidies and was worked on by organized labor in international locations? Why is that?

Soldier On.


48 Responses to Frozen Breaks Animation Record

  1. J in BK says:

    Doesn’t this just circle around to the very start of the whole debacle? Disney can afford to unionize and not take subsidy money because they make massive profits off of their IPs.

    VFX vendors, as well all know, haven’t had much success in that realm yet.

    • Earl Grey says:

      Disney can afford to unionize and not take subsidy money because they make massive profits off of their IPs.

      Despite Disney’s massive profits, they’re happy to have governments pay for the VFX on their Marvel and Star Wars franchise films. Even Disney’s ILM is opening up branches in subsidized London and Vancouver.

      • VFX Soldier says:

        Yes I was going to make the same point as Earl.

        Opponents argues subsidies and cheap labor are the *ONLY* way to make movies which as we see in the examples above is not true.

        On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 12:29 PM, VFX Soldier wrote:


  2. Earl Grey says:

    Has there recently been a similar successful film like Frozen where it received no subsidies and was worked on by organized labor in international locations?

    The Local 839 is…local to Los Angeles. Is animation (subsidized or not) organized anywhere outside of Los Angeles?

    • upholstry says:

      Nope, just LA. You should see how badly Reel FX abuses its employees in Texas.

      • polyphemus says:

        Its amazing that Reel FX employees don’t realise that just because Texas doesn’t have OT rules that they are still covered by the Federal rules. I guess being a one studio town everyone is scared to rock the boat, either that or they drunk too much of the “low wages but low cost of living” kool aid.

      • What would you say a ReelFX employee should do? Can you give any practical advise? Saying that they are the only show in town so they don’t want to rock the boat is easy to say, but what would you do if you were there?

  3. Easy says:

    We’ll it’s simple, job creators work harder than VFX artists to get these movies made Daniel. Why do you hate America? Corporations are people too!

  4. Dave Rand says:

    Once again human space beats cyber space when it comes to human creativity, communication, …and profits. What you think you gain chasing subsidies across the web gives new meaning to the term net loss.

    • Jackadullboy says:

      For some reason I thought of this quote:

      “If you want to be a Millionaire, start with a billion dollars and launch a new airline.”

      Richard Branson

      The same could surely be said for the VFX biz, though people will continue to try to succeed…

    • shunter says:

      This is sooooo true. I even believe that searching for the right subsidy to fit the bill takes more time and energy when you have to look overseas than it does by looking in your own backyard where there is talent galore.

      This was truly one of the best ‘Disney’ movies I have seen since Disney was alive. Honestly,….great animation, wonderful characters, fantastic imagery, amazing story…. Good ole American ingenuity at work:) It’s about time. I really do have to credit Pixar with putting the story back into film. Most movies 3D or otherwise have terrible dialog and the stories suck!

  5. Easy says:

    Actually, the problem we face is the fact that there’s simply no real reason to do it otherwise. What’s the use of being a rich and all powerful master of the universe if you can’t flex and squash a few thousand nerds? Add profit to the mix, well, fuck that’s just win-win for your average white collar sociopath. Hookers and blow cost money!

  6. vfxguy says:

    What exactly does an animated feature have to do with vfx?

    • Easy says:

      Oh boy… Really???

      • vfxguy says:

        Yes really. Please explain how a production company that has their own distribution manufacturing their own IP with their own money has the slightest thing in common with the fixed bid vendor vfx business model.

      • Easy says:

        That isn’t the question you asked.

        Now go take another 2 days to come up with an equally unrelated response to this post.

      • jonavark says:


        Answer. Not a damn thing. It is a completely unrelated to vfx/live action composites and doesn’t take anywhere NEAR the talent and staff that live action movies packed with VFX take. And you’re right, completely under the control of one corporation so the comparison is obscure at best.

        VFX work is never going to return to Los Angeles. Los Angeles is never going to return to Los Angeles! It is a a complete shithole and only getting worse. This will all turn out to be a complete waste of time by a self appointed savior who is only capable of doing more damage than good. .

      • Andreas Jablonka says:

        If its such a waste of time why are you here? Go do something with your fantastic non LA life and leave us minions to follow the messiah *raises sandal* 🙂

      • vfxguy says:

        Easy that is what I asked!

    • minoton says:

      ILM = Rango
      SPI = Beowulf
      Weta = Tin Tin
      SPA = Smurfs

      That’s the relation between VFX and animation.

  7. aidenvfx says:

    I hate to break it to you but the majority of people that went to see Frozen did not go because of the animation they went for the entertainment.

    Frozen worked so well not just because of the very talented VFX and annimators but rather because of great writing and songs that people connected with.

    • VFX Soldier says:

      If the VFX and animators don’t matter why do it with unionized artists that aren’t subsidized by their government?

      Perhaps the makers of Frozen at Disney recognized that even though there were no subsidies and the artists were unionized they could make a very successful film as they have done through the years.

      With the parity in the industry, why isn’t Canada able to do that?

      • Got an Answer for Ya says:

        Four Letters: M.P.A.A.

      • Aiden says:

        First of all Disney does outsource work just not their feature film aspect.

        I would argue that Disney succeeds because of the story and the acting first then comes the great art work. Then comes the music that really connected with viewers and audiences around the world.

        As for why Canada can’t do that a large part of the answer is Canada has no real studio system. There is no company that will bank roll a 150-200 million dollar film.

        I would also say that Disney succeeds because of their IP and the amount of cash they will make from toys ect.

        I agree to an extent that many films do not need tax credits but producers or the studios demand it. The producers of “The Hunger games” went on the record stating that it took the tax credits to get the film made.

        If the filmmaker can either make the film for a low enough dollar amount or prove why it would be cheaper to shoot in a non-tax credit location or lower tax credit location sometimes the studios will allow it as with “Divergent”.

      • Ross says:

        Union, non-union doesn’t matter. Majority of the films shot in Canada are UNION films! With UNION workers. The UNION reference is irrelevant. Marvel Studios shoots in Australia, Canada, USA, they are using IATSE Union members! Avengers makes a BILLION worldwide, it used UNION members to do that. So using “Frozen” as an example for promoting a UNION workforce is irrelevant. ILM is UNION, they STILL set up shop in Vancouver! Those folks in Vancouver are working under ILM’s UNION CARD!

      • minoton says:

        Ross, ILM is not union. They kicked the union out years ago. They may still have union members working there, but they are not a union company anymore.

      • Ross says:

        Thanks for the clarification. WOW! It was that EASY for ILM to go non-Union and STILL work on all those Feature Films! o_O Well, there it is, to all those that think Unionizing is the answer. Unions only work if they don’t act like expensive parasites. Too many folks have the attitude that the Union is there to bully the employer. Union workers cost more, PROVE to the employer going Union is more profitable to their bottom line than going NON-UNION. Paying a premium for talent needs to prove there is a PREMIUM return.

      • polyphemus says:

        Can someone explain what happened with ILM and the union? I talked to a few ILM guys about that but they said it was before their time.

      • Rich Archer says:

        Why are you making an argument based on nationality when you are talking about a global company like Disney? Seems rather silly to say “Why can’t Canada do this”? Not every government operates the same way the American Government does.

      • minoton says:

        Why doesn’t the Canadian government subsidize Canadian based companies rather than American based companies? Wouldn’t that be better for Canadians all around?

      • Rich Archer says:

        minoton says:
        April 4, 2014 at 1:40 pm
        Why doesn’t the Canadian government subsidize Canadian based companies rather than American based companies? Wouldn’t that be better for Canadians all around?

        The Canadian Government does subsidize Canadian companies. They offer tax incentives to promote job growth and local economies. There’s animation studios in Sudbury, about 5 hours north of Toronto, because of the subsidies and tax breaks the provincial government offers to promote job growth in those kinds of communities.

        If you are saying the the Canadian Government should ONLY offer incentives to Canadian companies, then I’d have to disagree with you.

      • minoton says:

        So you’re in favor of giving Canadian tax dollars to rich American corporations that don’t need it? If you are, then we do indeed disagree.

      • Rich Archer says:

        What’s your argument, exactly? Is it the Canadian Government should only offer tax and other incentives to Canadian companies or that it should have different tax laws/subsidies for American corporations? Or just have different ones for American Corporations that you would rather only do business in California?

        I’m perfecty happy with my government. And if/when i’m not, i call up my elected officials.

        But overall, life in Canada is pretty good.

      • minoton says:

        My argument is the same position as This blog’s: ending government subsidies that distort the market and are a waste of tax payers’ money. You may be happy with the situation, but give the facts to your neighbors and ask them if they like subsidizing your job. (Assuming you are employed in a subsidized vfx/film job.)

  8. Got an Another Answer for Ya says:

    Disney made Frozen to remind Pixar who is the Dog and who is the Tail. They used talented, aggregated labor to help drive the point across. The fact it was a few million more for labor was inconsequential to them in this instance.

    • Ross says:

      Disney BOUGHT Pixar for a reason! >:I Think before you type! John Lassetter is DISNEY’S CHIEF CREATIVE OFFICER, NOT just at Pixar! DISNEY!

  9. Ross says:

    “However Frozen is a glowing example that you can make successful movies with unions, no subsidies, and lots of great VFX. Oh and break some huge records too” <—"The Hunger Games," "Transformers," there are MORE films that passed a BILLION dollars utilizing subsidies. You need more than ONE "Frozen" to change the approach. The exception does NOT make the rule. That's erroneous thinking. One cigarette won't kill you, does that now equate cigarettes are good for your health? That smoking them will NOT kill you? NOPE!

    • polyphemus says:

      Oh look, its “Ross”… teaching us the ways of the industry…net profits on movies and that Hoover Dam is in California. Go away you fool….

      • Soo says:

        Ilm lost its union because the then boss “Scott Ross ” did a deal with the crew to make sure they didn’t unionize .

        As for Disney they will lay everyone off in a heartbeat if they need to as what say a few tears ago . Or at Disney Pixar when they let crew go a few months ago. And the same disney that shuttered VFX companies like dqi aka the secret lab .

        Dream on Danny boy just proven you are as green as your VFX resume .

      • minoton says:

        Soo, that is incorrect. ILM was able to get the union out during the last contract negotiations. They claimed the CG unit was paying more into the health plan than they were using, thus subsidizing the rest of the local. They wanted to pay in only the amount the CG folks were using. The local refused, and the contract expired. No new contract was signed so ILM was no longer a union shop. Scott Ross had nothing to do with it.

  10. Rich Archer says:

    isn’t Disney opening a Vancouver studio? Sure, they probably won’t be working on feature films there, but disney will probably still be taking advantage of the subsidies offered.

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