Anna and Elsa standing side by side in Frozen 2.

Why Is Disney Working on ‘Frozen 4’ Before ‘Frozen 3’ Even Releases?

According to Disney CEO Bob Iger, Frozen 4 is already in development. The decision to move forward on the sequel is quite surprising considering Frozen 3 is still in an early stage of development.

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After Frozen 2 premiered in 2019, it took nearly four years for Disney to confirm that a third installment was in development. The movie was confirmed alongside the announcement of Toy Story 5 and Zootopia 2. Given that all these film series have been among Disney’s top-rated and highest-grossing films, it’s not surprising that the company is focusing on them. At the same time, it’s hard to ignore that it’s doubling down on franchises rather than producing new stories. The idea of Toy Story 5 especially raised eyebrows because the franchise has already had two perfect endings, and there’s really no reason to continue dragging it out.

Zootopia 2 and Frozen 3 felt more reasonable. By the time Zootopia’s sequel finally arrives on the big screen, it will be nearly a decade since the original premiered. Meanwhile, with its sophisticated subject matter, it’s a series viewers will be eager to finally get more of. The Frozen franchise also feels like it has room for growth with its imaginative world filled with enchanted forests, ice queens, and mystical powers. However, greenlighting Frozen 4 so early is a bit concerning.

Disney is developing Frozen 4 alongside Frozen 3

olaf has a moment in frozen 2
(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

As reported by Deadline, Iger seemingly revealed on Good Morning America that Frozen 4 is in development or will be soon. He stated, “Frozen 3 is in the works, and there might be a Frozen 4 in the works, too. But I don’t have much to say about those films right now. But Jenn Lee, who created Frozen, the original Frozen and Frozen 2, is hard at work with her team at Disney Animation on not one but actually two stories.”

Of course, if Frozen 4 is on the way, it seems a little risky, given that Frozen 3 hasn’t premiered yet. How does Disney know if there is interest in a fourth film or what profits it might bring in? Hence, some are theorizing that Frozen 3 and 4 will be two parts of the same story. It seems like the most logical explanation for why Disney is seemingly developing both films at the same time.

The idea of splitting Frozen’s next story into two parts is a bit interesting. It’s not very common for animated films to go this route, though Sony is testing it out with Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse and the upcoming Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse. Unfortunately, Sony’s plan isn’t going well, as the latter film has been delayed indefinitely, and now viewers could be stuck waiting on a cliffhanger for years before the next film. So, it’s difficult to say how this would work for Disney if the studio really is hopping on the two-part trend for an animated film.

Even if Disney has a story-motivated reason to do Frozen 4, that doesn’t defuse all the risk. This has been a difficult year at the box office for Disney with multiple flops, including Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny, Haunted Mansion, and The Little Mermaid. It is poised to take another hit with The Marvels‘ disappointing box office numbers. Meanwhile, it doesn’t seem to be a coincidence that the majority of the studio’s flops this year were further installments in established franchises or remakes of classics. Disney keeps giving audiences more of the same just because it was successful in the past. However, when one keeps adding films to a series or remaking the same story, there will eventually come a time when viewers will stop showing up.

Disney also needs to remember that things have changed a lot since Zootopia, Frozen 2, and Toy Story 4 earned a billion each at the box office. Streaming is way bigger now than before, and viewers are starting to reconsider what’s necessary to see in a theater. While Frozen 2 was a solid film, it wasn’t as magical or groundbreaking as the first. It wouldn’t be surprising if a lot of viewers were to decide that Frozen 3 and Toy Story 5 can wait till streaming. Still, with a franchise with as much universal appeal as Frozen, perhaps the following two films will continue winning at the box office. However, Disney’s faith that its old formulas will keep working indefinitely shows that maybe it hasn’t learned much from shifting attitudes toward its films.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.