While Frozen fans will have to be satisfied with the recent Frozen II trailer for the time being, lucky attendees of this year’s Annecy International Animated Film Festival got an extra sneak peek at the highly anticipated sequel arriving this fall. Disney debuted the film’s first footage and a look at key artwork, courtesy of head of animation Becky Bresee and head of effects Marlon West. The team also revealed that the story picks up three years after the ending of the first film, along with additional plot details.
Though Frozen II is set to arrive in theaters this November, Bresee and West said that the sequel is still in production; there are still seven weeks of animation and 10 weeks of special effects to be completed as of today. Both THR and Variety had their own take on the footage that was screened and the details revealed by the Disney team, so we’ve gathered the important bits for you below.
Here’s what Bresee had to say about the sequel’s story:
“It’s an evolution and an expansion of the story of Frozen, and many of the questions raised in the first movie become the mysteries that our gang are trying to solve in this film [like] ‘Why was Elsa born with her powers?’
“[It’s] about two sisters trying to stay together while the world tries to tear them apart.”
Bresee and West also explained that, like the first film, Elsa and Anna are still young girls at the beginning of the new movie.
Here’s a brief description of the footage screened during Annecy:
- Elsa hears a haunting sound coming from the forest, a call “inspired by the ancient Swedish herding call Kulning” according to Bresee.
- Key art of Elsa’s father telling her bedtime stories as a child, specifically a tale of a long-ago battle in the forest between the spirits and the people in the kingdom. It centers on his childhood as a young prince venturing into the enchanted forest. When something goes horribly wrong, he’s quickly brought back to Arendelle. That event caused a disconnect between the people in the kingdom and the element spirits–air, fire, water and earth–of the forest. This story leads Elsa, her sister Anna, Kristof and snowman Olaf on a journey deeper into the dangerous woods to discover the truth about the past
- One sequence that acted as a happier counterpoint to Elsa’s battle against the ocean waves showed the characters playing charades. Elsa, however, is distracted by the cries coming from the forest. Despite the scene ending here, West and Bresee give more context on what happens next: After Anna checks on Elsa, they fall asleep watching the northern lights. After Elsa is woken again by the mysterious voice, she heads outside and casts brand new spells, conjuring rune-covered ice crystals in the sky over Arendelle.
Here’s the official synopsis for Frozen II:
Why was Elsa born with magical powers? The answer is calling her and threatening her kingdom. Together with Anna, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven, she’ll set out on a dangerous but remarkable journey. In “Frozen,” Elsa feared her powers were too much for the world. In “Frozen 2,” she must hope they are enough. From the Academy Award®-winning team—directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck, producer Peter Del Vecho and songwriters Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez—and featuring the voices of Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Jonathan Groff and Josh Gad, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ “Frozen 2” opens in U.S. theaters on Nov. 22, 2019.