NEW YORK — If you have children, or know someone who does, or just listened to one recently, the choice of Associated Press Entertainer of the Year won’t come as much of a shock: It’s “Frozen,” and in 2014, we just couldn’t let it go.
Although the animated film opened late in 2013, the story of Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff and Sven easily outpaced other vote-getters like “Sherlock” star Benedict Cumberbatch, TV guru Shonda Rimes, musicians Beyonce and Pharrell Williams, and even an entry for the culture’s fixation on the female rear.
In 47 ballots submitted by members and subscribers of the AP, “Frozen” won 12 votes. Taylor Swift had 8. Matthew McConaughey and Jimmy Fallon were tied for third with 7 votes each. Voters were asked to consider who had the most influence on entertainment and culture in 2014.
“Frozen” has earned Disney more than $1.27 billion at the box office worldwide, becoming the most successful animated movie of all time. Its signature song, “Let It Go,” won an Oscar, and a national touring live version on ice has been a huge draw. The lines of girls wearing sparkly dresses waiting for a chance to see Elsa and Anna at Disneyland are staggering. “Frozen” was the most searched movie in 2014, according to Google.
“It’s amazing,” said Chris Buck, who co-directed and co-wrote the film with Jennifer Lee. “A year later, it’s still crazy.” Asked if they had managed to get their heads around the film’s popularity, Lee replied: “I don’t know if it’s possible. I kind of hope it’s not possible because this is a really great feeling.”
The film’s gravitational pull has now supplanted Barbie as No. 1 on the holiday wish lists of girls, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation. Barbie had been the queen for 11 years in a row, but felt a chill this year from the kingdom of Arendelle.
The Oscar-winning story about how the sisters Anna and Elsa overcome Elsa’s terrible power to turn everything into ice and snow has songs by the husband-and-wife songwriting team Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez. It features the voices of Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Jonathan Groff, Josh Gad and Santino Fontana.
One Entertainer of the Year voter said the film had layers of magic: “’Frozen’ has become nearly unavoidable. Before seeing the movie, I knew the names of each main character as well as the theme song. But it’s more than that. Sisterhood is something so important to little girls whether they are an only child or have 10 siblings,” wrote Jill Harry of The Derrick and The News-Herald of Oil City, Pennsylvania.
“The movie takes that theme, that feeling and perfectly matches it with the magic Disney is known to produce. The end result is a movie that has become an obsession. And now snowflake blue is the new black.”
While the nation fell hard for the film, one famous actor was positively tongue-tied. John Travolta butchered the pronunciation of Menzel’s name at the Oscar ceremony. What came out was something that sounded like “Adele Dazeem,” but it only helped Menzel sell more tickets to her Broadway show “If/Then.”
“Frozen” translated into cold, hard cash at the box office. Apple said the animated film’s soundtrack was the year’s top selling album on iTunes, and “Frozen” merchandise accounted for nine of the top 10 best-selling items in Disney stores. There were “Frozen” sing-alongs on Disney cruises to the Caribbean, a book series was published and some of the characters made it onto the fourth season of ABC fantasy-drama “Once Upon a Time.”
Its creators are still coming to grip with its power. “We have tried to figure it out or define it and dissect it to figure out what it all was,” said Buck. “We call it lightning in a bottle. There is something there and I can’t really describe it.”
Parody and tribute videos never slowed down in 2014, and boys and girls continued to spontaneously belt out “Let It Go” on playgrounds or cite its memorable quotes like, “The cold never bothered me anyway,” ‘’I’m Olaf and I like warm hugs!” and “Some people are worth melting for.”
Lee said she and Buck were raised on the classic Disney films and they wanted to do “a sincere, modern fairy tale” that “spoke to this generation.” The music was classic but also fresh, and they tried to make the characters three-dimensional.
“It was really this big effort to ask, ‘Can we create that magic that we felt as kids with what the kids expect today?’” she said. “That’s all we could do. We kept pushing and pushing and praying that people would come to see it.”
Relax, more “Frozen” is on the horizon. The short film “Frozen Fever” comes out in March, a full-length film sequel is in development and a Broadway musical is planned. And early next year, Lea Michele will sing “Let It Go” in the season 6 two-hour premiere of “Glee.”
Lee and Buck said they were happy to return to Arendelle to work on the short film. “There is something magic about these characters and this cast and this music. Hopefully, the audiences will enjoy the short we’re doing, but we felt it again. It was really fun.”
“Frozen” now becomes the eighth AP Entertainer of the Year. Past titleholders include Jennifer Lawrence, Adele, Lady Gaga, Tina Fey, Betty White, Taylor Swift and Stephen Colbert.