Elsa, voiced by Idina Menzel, in “Frozen II.”
Disney has continued to break records at the box office this year — and is on the verge of setting a new one.
The studio has already garnered more than $8 billion at the global box office since January, breaking the record for the highest-grossing year for a studio ever, which it set in 2016.
Not to mention it already has the most billion-dollar movies in a single year with five. And “Frozen II” looks to be its sixth.
“I think a lot of kids are realizing how much nostalgia they have for ‘Frozen,'” said Erik Davis, managing editor at Fandango. “It’s the first film for that generation that they can be nostalgic for.”
The hotly anticipated sequel to the 2013 blockbuster “Frozen” arrives in theaters Friday and is expected to haul in as much as, if not more than, the original before the end of its run.
“Frozen” was a breakout hit for Disney Animation, garnering more than $400 million at the domestic box office.
The film, which introduced fans to characters such as Olaf the snowman, Princess Anna and Queen Elsa, went on to earn more than $1.2 billion worldwide at the box office and win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature film in 2014.
Anna and Olaf from from Disney’s “Frozen II,” voiced by Kristen Bell and Josh Gad.
With the success of other sequels such as “Finding Dory,” which garnered about $1.03 billion at the box office in 2016, it’s no surprise Disney was keen to bring the cast of “Frozen” back to the big screen.
“Frozen II” picks up not long after the end of “Frozen,” with Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf and Sven leaving Arendelle to travel to an ancient forest in a far-off enchanted land. Their quest is to find the origin of Elsa’s frosty powers and save their kingdom.
Current estimates for the film’s opening weekend range from $120 million to $140 million.
“A $100 million three-day weekend is a foregone conclusion,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at Comscore.
Still, there is some speculation that “Frozen II” could earn even more during its opening, especially as advance ticket sales for the film continue to spike.
On Atom Tickets, “Frozen II” has sold more tickets than “Toy Story 4” and “Incredibles 2” combined during the same time period and outpaced the volume for live-action Disney remakes including “The Lion King” and “Aladdin.”
“Disney now holds the record for top three animated movie pre-sales on Atom, for ‘Frozen II,’ ‘Toy Story 4,’ and ‘Incredibles 2,'” Matthew Bakal, co-founder and chairman of Atom Tickets, said in a statement to CNBC.
On Fandango, the film is outpacing “The Lion King” and beating all other animated movies at this time in the cycle, Davis said.
If sales and consumer interest remain high, “Frozen II” could dethrone “Incredibles 2” and become the top animated movie opening in North America of all time. But, it will need to earn more than $182.6 million in its first three days in theaters.
It should be noted that Disney does not consider its recent “The Lion King” film to be an animated feature. It is classified as live-action, although all but one shot from the film was rendered digitally.
“Disney captured lightning in a bottle with [‘Frozen’], which is a hard precedent to live up to,” said Shawn Robbins, chief analyst at Boxoffice.com. “There’s a six-year gap [between films], and it’s not like it has transitioned to a new generation. The intended generation grew up.”
The themes of “Frozen II” are more mature than those of “Frozen,” analysts who had viewed the film told CNBC.
“It’s more of a coming-of-age film,” Davis said. “It’s about transformation. … It’s a really good film. I think it’s going to surprise a lot of people, especially older kids.”
Davis noted that there are very few films released during the year that target the preteen audience. Animated films are often geared toward younger kids, not the tween demographic. That lack of content is going to drive a lot of people to go see this film, he said.
Not to mention, the family-friendly feature arrives just ahead of Thanksgiving, a key time of year for families to gather and see a movie together.
Davis noted that the tradition of seeing a Disney movie over the Thanksgiving holiday paired with the familiarity with the “Frozen” brand is going to drive a lot of traffic to theaters during the film’s first two weeks.
“It’s just going to do fantastic business and do a lot of repeat business,” he said. “There isn’t another significant family movie until you get near Christmas.”