This weekend, Disney instructed theaters to remove the 22-minute short film Olaf’s Frozen Adventure from the beginning of Pixar’s Coco. The snowman-centric mini-musical and the Día de Muertos-inspired feature film were always an odd match. Unlike the previous shorts that preceded Pixar films, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was created by Walt Disney Animation, not Pixar. Furthermore, the shorts that precede Pixar films normally top out at seven minutes. Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was three times that length, resulting in an audience reaction that ranged from confusion (“Are we in the right theater?” someone asked this reporter on opening night) to outrage ( “I CAME TO THE MOVIES TO SEE COCO WHY AM I WATCHING AN ENTIRE FROZEN FILM,” tweeted writer Eve Ewing). The social media backlash was swift, with many Pixar fans advising others to arrive at the theater 22 minutes late. Meanwhile, on Rotten Tomatoes, Coco is registering a sterling 97 percent “fresh” rating while Olaf’s Frozen Adventure has logged an abysmal 38 percent audience score. But none of that is why Disney pulled the short from theaters. A Disney rep told Yahoo Entertainment that Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was always intended as a limited release — and indeed, a press release sent to Yahoo in June stated that the short would play in theaters “for a limited time beginning Nov. 22” (though the actual length of the run is unspecified).
Still, the question remains: Why did Disney decide to put these films together in the first place? During a conversation on Thursday with Yahoo Entertainment, Coco co-director Adrian Molina explained.
“This year, we came out with two films: We had Cars 3 in the summer, and then Coco in the fall,” Molina told Yahoo. “Attached to Cars 3 was Lou, a [Pixar] short that we had developed in the studio. But for Coco, we didn’t have anything ready for it. And so Disney [Animation] contacted us and said, ‘We’ve got this Frozen short, and it’s kind of in the same wheelhouse in that it deals with the themes of family traditions and knowing what your family traditions are.’ And were like, oh, that sounds like a nice pairing.”
According to Molina, Pixar did not at any point develop a short specifically to pair with Coco, because of the time crunch of releasing two films in a single year. (While Pixar also released two films in 2015, one of those films, The Good Dinosaur, was originally slated for 2014. With that exception, the studio has released one film a year since 2006.)
As for the length of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, Molina acknowledged, “It is longer than any short that has preceded one of our films before. So that was a little bit of an experiment.”
Olaf’s Frozen Adventure will leave theaters beginning on Dec. 7.
Voice actor Josh Gad on ‘Olaf’s Frozen Adventure’:
Read more from Yahoo Entertainment: