The story that became "Frozen" changed a great deal before it made it to theaters in 2013.
Entertainment Weekly reported that the Disney film, about two royal sisters from the fictional land of Arendelle, originally focused on a recently-jilted, evil Snow Queen, Elsa, and the heroine, Anna, who convinces her to use her powers to save the kingdom.
In the original ending, after Prince Hans is revealed to be a psychopath who endangers the entire kingdom, Elsa's heart unfreezes and she is able to love again.
However, according to "Frozen" producer Peter Del Vecho, things needed to change to make the story feel fresh -- and relatable.
"The problem was that we felt like we had seen it before," Del Vecho said. "It wasn’t satisfying. We had no emotional connection to Elsa. We didn’t care about her because she had spent the whole movie being the villain. We weren’t drawn in."
As a result, Del Vecho said that director Chris Buck and writer Jennifer Lee came to re-imagine the film so that Elsa was not the villain. They also held a "sister summit" at Disney to discuss family dynamics with employees in order to make Anna and Elsa become believable siblings.
"One of the things Chris Buck had in most versions of the film was a moment where Anna’s heart was frozen and needed to be thawed. Chris said, 'Does it always need to be true love’s kiss that solves that problem? Does it always have to be the man who comes in and rescues the female? Could it be something different?' and that led to a different ending," he said.
"Now that they’re related, Elsa had her own fear and it was Anna who would save the day instead of Elsa by rescuing her sister —- and it would be that selfless act that thawed Elsa’s heart. Once we landed on that idea for an ending [Disney animation chief] Ed Catmull called in Jen Lee and said, 'If you can make that ending pay off and if we can really feel it, I think we’ll have a successful film. And if you don’t, we’ll have nothing.' So that really put the pressure on her to make that work."
After the story itself was sorted, the team had to figure out a way to tell it on-screen. The result -- when Elsa's emotions create a blizzard, separating her and Hans from Anna and Kristoff -- earned a standing ovation from Disney Chief Creative Office John Lasseter, the directors, and the story team.
"He helped crack visually how we were going to depict that ending," Del Vecho said.
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