Meet distribution company Phase 4 Films, the Asylum of animation. Are you in the mood for Dreamworks, Pixar, and Disney, but you really, really hate all those production values? Phase 4 has you covered with their bargain basement knockoffs of Brave, Cars, Madagascar, A Bug’s Life/Antz (two for one!), Bee Movie, How to Train Your Dragon, Up, Charlotte’s Web, Kung-Fu Panda (a genderswapped version where the heroine must rescue the “handsome Prince Po”), Shrek (twice!), and, now, Frozen. Only that last one just got them sued.
Never mess with the Mouse House.
The plot of Frozen Land actually has as much to do with Frozen as Frozen has to do with the original Snow Queen story that inspired it. (So, not very much.) IMDB lists the synopsis as “Three young Inuits set off in search of a promised land to save their clan from starvation.” It’s set in 1910. There are no at first obnoxious-looking but then strangely heartwarming (ba-doom-tiss) talking snowmen. In fact, when the film was released theatrically in November it was called The Legend of Sarila. Only it turns out no one wanted to see The Legend of Sarila, so when it came time for a home video release some genius at Phase 4 thought “Heyyyyy. Frozen‘s done pretty well for itself lately. That movie has snow. Our movie has snow. Twinsies!” So they retitled it Frozen Land and changed the logo to something that’s pretty much the Frozen logo with some minor changes and “Land” tacked on underneath.
Disney, smelling something fishy, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit. Phase 4 Films, according to the lawsuit:
“redesigned the artwork, packaging, logo, and other promotional materials for its newly (and intentionally misleadingly) retitled film to mimic those used by [Disney] for FROZEN and related merchandise… As is apparent from the face of the FROZEN LAND logo, despite the infinite options available to it, Phase 4 intended its logo to replicate the FROZEN Trademark Logo of Disney’s FROZEN. For example, the FROZEN Land logo also includes jagged, uneven edges on the lettering, dramatic flourishes on the letters, and an elongated R and Z that cradle a stylized O that curves into itself and does not close entirely. In addition, the word ‘frozen’ is significantly larger than the word ‘land.’ The two logos are nearly identical.”
So it’s the marketing, not the film itself, that’s hitched itself to Frozen‘s star. That makes me a bit sad for the director, who probably toiled away for years on this movie only to have Phase 4 swoop in and brand it a Disney knockoff. Then again, this might be the best thing that could’ve happened to The Legend of Sarila/Frozen Land. Sure, among Disney’s demands is that all the Frozen Land DVDs be destroyed. But let’s be real: How many DVDs would The Legend of Sarila have sold in the first place? Watch the trailer (A link should be here but it turns out Phase 4 removed it from Youtube). Frozen Land gets points for diversity, but as a whole it just looks plain bad.
By the way, the voice actor in that trailer saying “It’s time to go to Sarila”? Christopher Plummer. I kid you not. You chase down that easy paycheck, sir. You’ve earned it.
ONTD, have you ever had your hard worked intelectual property reproduced as a cheap knock off?