'Frozen' Will Be a Hard Act for Disney to Follow in 2015

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Frozen Frenzy
DisneyDisney has some big princess shoes to fill in 2015.
There's no denying that 2014 was the year of "Frozen." Disney's (DIS) hit animated feature is still making waves, even though it was released more than 13 months ago. The latest accolade came when the Associated Press tapped "Frozen" as 2014's Entertainer of the Year -- with 50 percent more votes than second-place finisher Taylor Swift.

Putting the Biz in Show Business

"Frozen" has set the bar high since hitting theaters late last year. It topped $400 million at the box office domestically. It's been a bigger hit overseas, ringing up $1.274 billion in worldwide ticket sales. That's enough to make it the fifth highest-grossing film of all time, and the top dog of all time when it comes to animated features.

That's just one part of the story. Disney continues to find ways to cash in on its tale of princess sisters featuring some of the catchiest tunes in the family entertainment giant's decorated vault of singsong classics.

The latest no-brainer play was making the franchise the cornerstone of last week's nationally televised Christmas parade. Disney even changed the name of its annual broadcast to "Disney Parks Frozen Christmas Celebration." The parade airs every year on Christmas Day. It's probably not a coincidence that it plays on ABC: Disney owns the network. Disney has a funny way of owning a lot of the tools that it can use to turn a hit property into a monster-hit property.

The parade capped off a holiday season dominated by the franchise. The National Retail Federation's annual survey of toy demand revealed that Disney's "Frozen" line topped Mattel's (MAT) Barbie as the plaything purchase of choice for girls this season. That's a big deal for Disney shareholders, since Barbie delivered $1.2 billion in sales for Mattel in 2013.

This wraps up a year in which Disney has made "Frozen" the star of its theme parks, traveling "on ice" skating shows, and even ABC's cult fave "Once Upon a Time" television series.

Do You Want to Build a New Year?

It doesn't end here, of course. ABC will premiere "Galavant" on Sundays in 2015. The musical show about royal mayhem that's been described as a cross between "The Princess Bride" and "Robin Hood: Men in Tights" will likely be riding the coattails that "Frozen" helped establish, blending royal discord with show-stopping tunes.

"Frozen" itself will also continue to be a thing. Disney closed down the most popular ride at Epcot's World Showcase in Florida a couple of months ago to replace it with a "Frozen" attraction come 2016. That's a long time given the fickle nature of kid-friendly trends, but Disney has a way of milking its properties long after they've peaked in popularity.

In short, it's not realistic to expect the fervor for "Frozen" to continue at the same level of 2014, but AP's now reigning Entertainer of the Year will continue to deliver a windfall to Disney and its shareholders through 2015 and beyond.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz owns shares of Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Mattel and Walt Disney and owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. Do you want to build a better portfolio in 2015? Check out The Motley Fool's one great stock to buy for 2015 and beyond.
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