Elsa and Anna, on ice: Disney's 'Frozen' a hit on stage, too

No business like snow business
No business like snow business   

It's a tale of two Arendelle-based sisters, Elsa and Anna, left orphaned and forced to take care for themselves after their parents died at sea.

Each sister makes deeply personal sacrifices in order to maintain their inner circle as they deal with the coldest winter to ever hit their kingdom. And then there's Olaf, the snowman who likes warm hugs.

By now, most people recognize the plot details of Disney's box-office blockbuster "Frozen," which raked in nearly $1.3 billion, making it the fifth all-time-highest grossing movie worldwide and the highest grossing animated feature ever. The movie was release in 2013 and, less than a year later, "Frozen" isn't done yet.

The smash hit is still breaking records, but in a cooler way—both literally and metaphorically.

"'Frozen on Ice' was the ultimate no brainer and its success has just steamrolled," said Nicole Feld in an interview. She is the executive vice-president of Feld Entertainment, the three-generation family business responsible for bringing the animated movie "Frozen" from on-screen to a live entertainment feature on ice.

"Kids know every single piece of music and dialogue," she said. "Our goal was to stay true to the heart and soul of the movie but in live space and not animation."

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Walt Disney characters Anna and Elsa at the premiere of Frozen.
Getty Images
Walt Disney characters Anna and Elsa at the premiere of Frozen.

So far, "Frozen on Ice" has been a financial and critical success.

"We opened in September and went on sale in May," said Feld. "In the first week of presale, we sold 700,000 tickets including 240,000 tickets sold in the first day. It's the highest grossing ticket sales that we've ever had."

Since 1967 when Feld's grandfather, Irvin bought Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey circus, Feld Entertainment has been producing "The Greatest Show on Earth," and other live-action shows. These include "Disney on Ice," and the "Monster Jam" truck extravaganza. The company's 2013 revenue was estimated at more than $1 billion.

With nearly 40 percent of its revenue made from overseas productions, Feld Entertainment's shows are seen in 75 countries, and virtually every continent except Antarctica. Disney Live is translated for each tour, and Feld says the car show "Monster Jam" transcends any language because it thrills on every level.

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From the circus to Disney on Ice

Feld credits the 35-year Disney relationship that began in the 1980s to her father. Ken felt that the Disney brand and ice-skating genre had a combined appeal, whether or not it was considered relevant at the time. Earlier shows the company produced were Walt Disney's "World on Ice," featuring characters Chip & Dale and The 3 Little Pigs; after more than three decades, "Disney on Ice" continues to be a major draw.

At a time when more people are streaming movies as fewer people are going to the theaters or attending theatrical productions, Feld says the secret to her company's success is that nothing can replace the live entertainment business.

"We cater to families. Productions like 'Disney Live' are often a young child's first theatrical experience and the boys love it too," said Feld. "We get the boys into our shows at the tween stage with 'Monster Jam' and they stay on until their 20s and 30s when they attend Super Cross shows."

As for the Feld family tradition under the big top, Feld says the circus is still an attraction that sells out.

"The circus is an exciting show that is fun for children of all ages and affordable family entertainment for any demographic, income and ethnic level."

Feld's Disney partnership isn't only limited to producing animated features for live arena tours. The company is currently in production of "Marvel Universe Live," a live-action show cast with some of the most recognizable superhero characters from comic books and big box-office features.

"It's the largest undertaking the company has taken on," said Feld. "The technology, stunts and special effects—it's a revolutionary form of a live experience focusing on incredible athletes. We just want to keep being trailblazers and putting smiles on children's faces."

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