Why, with the near-death of physical media, did we have to also say goodbye to all the special features? 
One of the brightest highlights of DVD and blu-ray ownership is the ability to see featurettes, gag reels, deleted scenes, commentaries, and more just by slipping in that extra disc. Now that we’ve entered the era of digital releases and streaming apps, those features have all but disappeared. Of those that have, sadly, gone by the wayside, the one that seems most easily remedied is the behind-the-scenes featurette, especially in the current age of everyone-has-their-own-streaming-service. Disney took full advantage of their streaming service, Disney+, and gave Frozen II fans a six episode documentary of all the trials and tribulations that had to be conquered to bring the sequel to the big screen. If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II, it may revive your love for that extra special glimpse into production.
Over the course of the six episodes, viewers get a chance to look into so many different facets of Frozen II’s production. Since it’s an animated film, there are slightly different departments to look in on, but that only makes the process that much more interesting. In addition to spending good chunks of time with the most easily identifiable cast and crew, including Jennifer Lee, Chris Buck, Idina Menzel, Kristen Bell, Josh Gad, Jonathan Groff, Kristen Anderson-Lopez, and Robert Lopez, we get a chance to see all the different departments that work together seamlessly to create an animated film like Frozen II.
And, yes, there are far more departments than you could possibly imagine. There’s no way we even get to see them all in the documentary, and you can tell the filmmakers working behind the scenes of the doc went to great care to try and represent as much of the very complicated animation process as they could. And the animation is just one part of the grand experiment. There are still all the other departments that you would have in a live action film, too.
We get to see animators hard at work bringing the characters to life. We watch as talented people rig the bones of animation programs so that animators have all the motions and movements they need to make the characters move and emote so realistically. We see how lighting, visual effects, editing, and sound design all come into play in an animated movie. And it’s all fascinating to us movie buffs who love to see how a crew works together, as well as just how hard a process it really is to bring such seamless, imaginative worlds to life. It makes us all more appreciative of the amount of care and attention to detail these filmmakers put into their work.
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But the most compelling parts of Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II, have to do with the drama of the movie-making process. Seeing how the story adjusts and changes over time and through collaboration is absolutely fascinating, as well as watching the directors and songwriters work together to solve a huge story-telling problem in the song “Show Yourself.” It’s nearly as compelling as watching Frozen II itself.
So, why do more streaming services not take advantage of their platform to provide movie fans with this type of insanely compelling behind-the-scenes content? It’s flabbergasting that Disney is the only one to truly take advantage and maximize the time fans will spend on their app.
While we all know that no film is easy to make, even behind-the-scenes documentaries, it seems like studios are missing obvious opportunities to feed avid movie and television fans a steady diet of content without having to fund an entirely new production. Whatever cost and labor is involved in making a behind-the-scenes featurette, it’s definitely less than putting another project into production. Providing extras for fans is practically a no-brainer, especially economically. Even witnessing the smoothest sailing project go from concept to production is fascinating for movie fans.
Audiences ate up the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions and the insane amount of background footage of the epic production. Everything from miniatures to makeup, casting to editing was included in the package, letting fans stay in that world longer and longer. If we update that idea to this age of streaming apps, a detailed look at the making of just about any other successful franchise, made available only on the app, seems a foolproof way to drive fans back to your service time and time again.
And for studios who are looking to keep people spending time on their apps, watching their programming, the lack of behind-the-scenes content out there feels egregiously wasteful. Even Netflix, who offered a short look behind the scenes of The Witcher, failed to use their idea to its fullest. A single 32-minute feature looking into the 475 minutes of The Witcher Season 1 is a pittance of what it could have been. In comparison, Into the Unknown: Making Frozen II is a delectable 230 minutes long, and Frozen II itself is only 108 minutes long.
Maybe, by bringing audiences behind the camera and into the creative process, these streaming apps could reach their full potential. If subscribers are getting content they cannot get from pirate sites, going to the theater, or buying the physical media, they will spend more time watching in app content, handing more and more money to the companies behind them. Not to mention that studios like Netflix, who pump out insane amounts of content to meet demand every year, could probably capitalize on the enormous fanbases many of their original movies and television shows already have.
Who wouldn’t watch an eight part behind-the-scenes miniseries of Stranger Things Season 4, or Dragon Prince, or The Umbrella Academy? Or, if their original films are more your speed, what about The Guilty, Army of the Dead, Roma or Da 5 Bloods?
And at least Netflix has provided the limited options mentioned above. HBO Max, Paramount Plus, Prime Video, Hulu, and AppleTV+ have yet to offer anything substantial in regards to their most successful properties. You can’t say that a Ted Lasso behind-the-scenes documentary wouldn’t be absolutely devoured by it’s rabid fanbase, because it absolutely would. So, streaming services, we beg you, please give us the content we want. Help us help you, and we promise you won’t regret it.
KEEP READING: Disney+'s ‘Into the Unknown’ Review: A Brilliantly Candid Look at the Making of ‘Frozen 2’
“I think it’s going to be quite an extravaganza.”
Kristen is a Movies/TV Feature writer for Collider. She is a Bowling Green State University graduate with a Popular Culture degree (yes, that’s a real thing), and has previously reviewed movies, written about books and TV, and podcasted for Hypable.com. You can catch her now on Prophecy Radio: A Percy Jackson Podcast. When she’s not writing, she’s an avid romance reader, a devoted Detroit Lions fan, a peanut butter addict, and a Sorkin devotee. Oh, and she never turns down a chance for karaoke.