NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Disney's (DIS) Frozen is no longer a movie, it's a global brand, a larger than life franchise built around products, theme parks and sequels that could last into the next century.
"It's become massive," said Phil Contrino, chief analyst at BoxOffice.com, in a phone interview. "The film part of Frozen has been the launching point into merchandising, to when it hits Broadway, to any sequels which will further the brand. Disney is going to be selling Frozen merchandise for a long time."
In just one year since its release, Frozen has become the biggest selling animation film ever, with box office receipts in excess of $1.27 billion, according to Rentrak (RENT) , the media measurement company. For the three-month period ended Sept. 30, Frozen drove a doubling of operating profit at Disney's film studios. The story of a pair of princess sisters battling evil, cold weather and a conniving would-be prince continues to generate revenue from home entertainment channels worldwide as well as international cinemas.
Frozen is poised to outstrip other successful franchises such as Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Lion King and even Star Wars, the movie that spawned the franchise label, said Paul Dergarabedian, a Rentrak media analyst.
"In the pantheon of franchises, you have to include Frozen," Dergarabedian said in a phone interview from Los Angeles. "For Disney, Frozen is an essential part of its long-term strategies, which start with movies and then everything branches out from there. The box office results for Frozen shows just how powerful that brand is and can be."
For Burbank, Calif.-based Disney, which also owns ESPN, ABC, Marvel Studios, Pixar and theme parks around the world, Frozen is just one part of the world's largest entertainment conglomerate but it is an essential part of three of its four units: movie studios, theme parks and consumer products. The film, inspired by Han Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, helped to drive a 21% increase in operating income to $13 billion at Disney during the 12 months ended in September. Sales for the company were $49 billion during its fiscal 2014, a rise of 8%.