Frozen was the unexpected hit of modern Disney movies. While Tangled didn't do poorly, it wasn't a massive hit, but Frozen took over the cultural ethos in a way we hadn't seen since the 1990s Disney animation. When kids weren't driving their parents insane with the 5000th edition of Let it Go, they absolutely loved Olaf's character. The little snowman brought to life by Elsa and voiced by Josh Gad could have easily fallen into that slapstick funny character that has been a staple of Disney animation since Aladdin. However, the great writing and the performance by Gad really elevated the character. Disney is putting out a new short today called Once Upon a Snowman that explores Olaf's origins. The writer and director Trent Correy and other team members did a virtual roundtable, and Correy explained why he thought exploring these moments with Olaf might be fun.
I started as a crowd animator during the first Frozen and my very first character to animate was Olaf. I was very lucky to get to animate Olaf for the rest of the show and I very clearly remember seeing Chad Sellers animator shot during Let It Go, while I was a trainee and Elsa meets Olaf and it's beautiful, and then she just walks away. She creates life and she walks away and I was like, there's got to be a story there. I love Pinocchio, I loved Bambi and I'm like, I want to see what Olaf's first steps are like and we don't see them for another 20 minutes in the film. I actually found sketches last week when I was moving of original ideas from 2013, little deep boards, and writing and ideas of Olaf taking his first steps and learning about who he is.
Like Correy says, we're not exactly exploring a huge time period here, but that 20 minutes [in movie time] is plenty of time for this snowman to get into plenty of shenanigans. For parents, they'll be happy to have some new Frozen material on Disney+ for the kids to watch even if Once Upon a Snowman is only a short. A streaming service is a perfect place for Disney to put out animations like this without releasing a whole movie and putting them in theaters.