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Although we still have quite some time until Frozen 2 finally debuts in theaters, we will get a new journey into the Frozen universe this year. In fact, Olaf's Frozen Adventure is currently gearing up to premiere alongside Pixar's Coco on November 22, and it sounds like the 22-minute short film will be more critical to Frozen than we may have realized. Specifically, we sat down with Olaf's Frozen Adventure producer Roy Conli at Walt Disney Animation Studios recently to talk about the short, and he explained that the team wanted to evolve Josh Gad's Olaf a little bit before handing him back over to the Frozen 2 team. Conli said:
It became so clear so early with Olaf being a newly minted character. Being someone who's absolutely innocent. But saying that, he's also on a learning trajectory, right? We really wanted to make sure that we kind of handed him off to Peter and Jen and Chris Buck for the next film having learned a little something. Same thing with the girls and their relationship.
In the first Frozen, Olaf is quite literally a brand-new character. He has practically no life experience, which means he knows nothing about the world. In Olaf's Frozen Adventure, he goes on a journey to find Christmas traditions to bring home to Anna and Elsa (who are celebrating their first Christmas since Elsa's return) and along the way he goes on a series of bizarre misadventures. This is obviously still a Disney film, which means nothing too dark happens to Olaf on his trek, but Conli and his team wanted to let him grow a bit (something Josh Gad reportedly wanted for the character as well), and have his growth feed into the growth of the two leading ladies.
This idea of Olaf changing and evolving during the events of his frozen adventure was also something that came up during my conversation with the short film's directors. Specifically, when I spoke to Stevie Wermers-Skelton and Kevin Deters about the changes, they talked about giving him more life experience to guide the development of his personality, for better or for worse. They said:
Stevie Wermers-Skelton: In Frozen he's newly minted. He's like a baby. In ours, we've taken it a step further. He's going through a low point. He's sort of growing up a little bit.
Kevin Deters: More self-conscious.
Stevie Wermers-Skelton: More self-conscious. Questioning himself and things that he didn't necessarily do in the original movie. And that was a thing where we kind of had to go 'are we good with this? Are we ok with this?' Getting him to that low point of being in complete self-doubt.
With that said, Roy Conli also made sure to tell me that the continuity between Olaf's Frozen Adventure and Frozen 2 won't feel airtight. These stories all exist within a unified timeline, but Frozen 2 reportedly won't feature many (if any) callbacks to this holiday special -- according to Conli: because people don't randomly call back to Christmas in real life. However, even without those references, it sounds like Olaf's Frozen Adventure will definitely play into the development of this fan-favorite snowman going forward.