Controversy Over the Frozen Short Film Paired With Pixar’s Coco
Disney-Pixar has a long-standing tradition of releasing a new movie every Thanksgiving day. This year, we received Coco, an endearing animated film about a young Mexican boy named Miguel who journeys through the Land of the Dead while depicting Mexican traditions surrounding the holiday Día de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. The movie has received positive reviews from critics for accurately portraying Mexican culture, and it’s also the highest ever budgeted movie with an all-Latino cast. It is also doing very well in the non-US box office, becoming Mexico’s highest-grossing movie, and it has also done well in China, as written about in a previous article.
However, there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the movie’s release because of the Frozen-follow up short film “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure” that precedes Coco in theater showings. The short is 21 minutes long, which is much longer than Disney’s usual shorts that accompany movies. It is also unusual for a Disney short film to accompany a Pixar movie--while the companies are connected, they usually don’t combine a short film from one studio with a feature film from the other. People on social media have cited several reasons as to why Olaf and friends have incited such frustration among viewers. For one, with its long running time plus the usual previews that accompany a movie showing, Coco does not actually start until about 40 minutes after the theater’s listed start time. This delay has confused some movie-goers and their children about whether they are in the right theater.
More culturally-focused arguments about the Frozen-Coco pairing center around the juxtaposition of the all-white cast of the already-popular Frozen with the new movie, Coco. Is that suggesting that Coco wouldn’t do well on its own? Did Disney-Pixar think that Coco needed the support of an already-popular short film to boost attendance and ticket sales?
On its own, Coco is already breaking box office records because people love the accurate portrayal of Mexican culture and music. One theater chain in Mexico reportedly stopped showing the short because of all the backlash. Clearly, Mexico’s Coco sales records did not come from the Frozen short; in fact, they seemed to come in spite of it.
Criticism has also come from the fact that it was released on Thanksgiving, an American holiday, when it could have been released just a few weeks earlier closer to Día de Los Muertos. In fact, in Mexico it was released the weekend before the holiday. It was just in America where it was released on Thanksgiving to continue Disney’s tradition of releasing a feature film annually on that day.