It seems like just yesterday that we were expressing delight at Disney’s decision not to rush into a sequel to Frozen in order to milk the highest grossing animated film of all time for all its worth. Though the studio is currently focused on developing a Broadway Musical adaptation of the Oscar winner for Best Animated Feature, it appears that the Frozen “franchise” will actually be expanding this fall. During last night’s season finale of the ABC (which is owned by Disney) series Once Upon a Time—a show that has routinely pulled from Disney IP to bring recognizable characters into its ranks—the addition of Elsa from Frozen was teased. Indeed, the plan is to involve the animated character in live-action form when the series returns to the small screen this fall, making for a disappointing yet unsurprising crossover.
Hit the jump to watch the scene and to hear why the producers decided to incorporate the character.
First off, you can watch the Frozen scene from the Once Upon a Time finale below.
Speaking with TV Line, executive producers/showrunners Adam Horowitz and Adam Kitsis revealed that it was actually their idea to bring Elsa into the Once Upon a Time universe:
ADAM HOROWITZ: That is Elsa. We fell in love with the movie Frozen when we saw it, my daughters are obsessed as is Eddy’s son… It is something that ever since we saw it would gnaw at us, “Is there a way to fit it into our world?” And we cooked up a way to do it. We pitched the studio and the network and they were kind enough to say, “Go do it.”
EDDY KITSIS: What’s funny is that people think Disney called us up and was like, “You need to do Frozen,” and it’s really actually quite hard to get these characters. It’s not like they call you up and say, “We’d like you to do this.” It’s actually quite the opposite. You have to work at it and have a vision and the spirit.
HOROWITZ: Look, we had an idea for how we wanted to approach this story, and we are very well aware of how beloved the movie is, so we’re very careful that we want to tell a story that is uniquely ours but also honors that movie and those characters that everyone fell in love with this past year.
KITSIS: The thing we love about Elsa is she is a character that is perceived to be a villain but is clearly misunderstood, and that goes to the heart of our show.
They revealed that they haven’t started casting for Elsa just yet, but they get to work on season four in two weeks, at which point they’ll focus on filling the role.
Once Upon a Time isn’t exactly a show known for its critical praise, and I’m personally not too thrilled about them mining Frozen for material. Though the decision apparently came from the producers and not the studio, it still feels like a lazy way to draw in more viewers and it also dilutes the Frozen “brand”. Whether Elsa will become a main character in the show or not is unclear, but I’d be surprised if she was simply a small guest star.
What about you, readers? Does the inclusion of Elsa in Once Upon a Time rub you the wrong way or is all fair in the world of corporate synergy?