Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee aren't ready to "Let It Go."
In March, Walt Disney Animation Studios announced that the filmmakers are developing a sequel to 2013's Frozen. The first film, featuring the voice talents of Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff and Idina Menzel, generated nearly $1.3 billion at the box office and became a merchandising juggernaut.
The follow-up film's release date has yet to be announced. "We're just starting," Buck tells MTV. "Jen and I are just getting back into the story room together and throwing ideas around. We have an overall idea, a concept, which I think is a very strong one. I'm very excited about doing it." In keeping with its predecessor, it will further explore the relationship between Queen Elsa and Princess Anna. "We have two very strong female leads in Frozen. We will keep that going in the next one," he says. "We will tackle other issues that, I think, are out there today that boys and girls, men and women, are dealing with."
For the filmmakers, it's important to make sisterhood the focus, rather than the pursuit of a prince. "I think we're very aware of what is happening in society. I don't think any of us take [them] lightly, even though they can be very funny and entertaining, the messages that our movies have and the influence they can have on young people," Buck explains. "When the kids [watch] them, they watch them over and over again, and if we don't have a decent message in there, I think we've missed an opportunity."
Buck says he and Lee aren't in a rush to crank out the sequel.
"After the feature, and because of how it was received, we were all overwhelmed by the Frozen phenomenon. It took us a while just to even get back into things and do the short [Frozen Fever]," the co-director says. "And it was as we were doing the short that we started thinking about the next one."
Regarding Frozen Fever, the seven-minute short that accompanied Cinderella, he says, "It was this idea one story artist had. What if Elsa got a cold? What would happen? What kind of havoc would come from that? And then our imaginations just started going. The other idea that came up is that Elsa would want to do something for Anna because she's missed so many birthdays. So she gets this cold, and even in the midst of it, she's still going to make this party as perfect as she can—and nothing is going to stop her."
"What was fun about the short, for me, was that we got to have fun with Elsa," Buck tells MTV. "In the movie, Elsa went through a very dramatic character arc, and in this one, she got to lighten up. We saw a bit more of her personality. So then we started thinking about what we could do with all of these characters in another film. We had a nice happy ending at the end of the first one, but what's next?"