Monday, February 13, 2012

Russian 3D "Snow Queen" To Beat Disney's "Frozen" to Theaters

Original Snow Queen poster
Moscow's Wizart Animation is set to release their own full-length feature animated film Snow Queen, at the end of this year. It will be in 3D and an English-language version (ie non-subtitled but dubbed with English-speaking actors) will be released for the US (assuming the trailer released Wednesday is an indication).
Wizart's "Snow Queen" development art
From Cartoon Brew last week:

Not to be confused with Disney’s forthcoming Frozen, here’s the English-language trailer for a Russian version of The Snow Queen, which is scheduled to be released toward the end of 2012. It will be released in Stereoscopic 3D and was produced on a budget of $7 million (US$). Moscow’s Wizart Animation is the producer/production company. 
Take a look:
Did you see?! Did you see?! Gerda and the reindeer!! Woot! I cannot find enough images of that part of the story and can't wait to see more of that iconic (to me anyway) scene.

This version obviously isn't quite as faithful to Andersen's story as the iconic Russian Snow Queen feature of the 50's but I am curious to see where they go with it. Although it's a little hard to tell from the quality of the trailer and the fact that I had a lot of difficulty loading it) it does not seem to meet the Disney/Pixar bar. BUT, considering they only spent $7 million on their film (in comparison to Disney/Pixar's spending upwards of $100 million per film), this is pretty impressive.
Compared to the giant-eyed Rapunzel of Disney's Tangled and the other women characters in that film in particular, the character design on Snow Queen doesn't seem bad at all. My main complaint is that it just doesn't appear truly unique, especially the two leads. From what I've seen, they've done a very nice job of pacing, scene layout and (story) boarding but the (character) animation could be stronger overall. I find myself wishing they'd been able to have at least twice the budget they had to kick it up that extra couple of notches. If this is what they've done on only 5% of a Disney/Pixar budget, imagine what they could do, if they were given the dollars (rubles?) they needed. (There's a bit of discussion on this at Cartoon Brew in the comments section of the original post.)

Have a look at the opening sequence released lat year. The dialog is in Russian (although the title text is English) but you'll get the idea. There's a lot of nice stuff here.

 It looks like Wizart have a nice film on their hands overall. Their challenge is going to be the marketing but if they manage a pre-Christmas release - meaning a family seasonal film - as well as beating Disney's Frozen to the box office, they should be guaranteed of some good numbers.
You can apparently find more information and galleries at the official website HERE but I'm having difficulty getting it to load properly beyond the home page  (though I do love the reindeer galloping across the snow as their loading icon). Of course, like you, I have to wonder: what does their actual Snow Queen look like?

New poster  - for the US? - with a "The" added to the title,
though the website still doesn't.
(I definitely prefer the old one)

"Snow Queen"
Release is planned for winter 2012/2013
Director Maxim Sveshnikov
Co-director Vlad Barbe
Written by Vadim Sveshnikov, Vlad Barbe
Based on H.C. Andersen story.
Producers Sergey Rapoport, Alexander Ligay, Yuriy Moskvin
Executive producer Vladimir Nikolaev
Production Designer Arthur Mirzoyan
Director of photography Alexey Tsitsilin
Music by Mark Willott
Produced by Inlay Film Company & Wizart Animation


  1. Wow - looks like great animation!

  2. Hi! thanks for your review of this project!
    As production designer i want to assure that it will be a great movie!

  3. This does look interesting, I suppose. The real challenge will be in marketing. Animated movies never really do well unless they have a strong promotion budget. If you can get deals with non-disney affiliated companies to sponsor overseas then I think you could pull in a lot of profit.

  4. Looks great! I love a good animated movie!

  5. Looks really great!

  6. I like the look of this. I love this story and although no adaptation is exactly true to it, this could be better than Disney's effort which has none of the actual story in. Which is completely pointless...