Credit: Jim Finn artist, Mike Giaimo art director

Here’s a little icebreaker from the makers of Frozen.

Walt Disney Animation Studios has debuted this exclusive concept image from its upcoming comedy adventure, just in time to make you feel good about your own December.

In this variation on the classic children’s tale The Snow Queen, kind-hearted Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and her cliffhanging friend Kristoff (whose voice actor hasn’t been revealed yet) venture into the mountains to find her older sister Elsa (Idina Menzel) — who has the power to control wind and ice.

The perpetual winter their region is suffering through … Yeah, big sister is causing that.

“This is her sister’s magic. Elsa created this winter storm and ice formation,” says director Chris Buck (Surf’s Up, Tarzan). “We love the power of it, and yet there’s a magical quality to it also.”

“We wanted to push it to the extreme,” adds Jennifer Lee (screenwriter of Wreck-It Ralph), who is directing the film with him. “The unnatural quality of the ice emphasizes this is not, you know, sky-made ice, but ice made by someone.”

Most likely a not-very-nice person. “Elsa, um, has her moments,” says Buck.

“As you would, probably,” Lee adds.

Elsa, you see, was born with this magical control of snow and ice — which adds a little bit of superpower to what might otherwise be a fairy-tale world.

If you click on the image to expand, you’ll find snowflake shapes embedded within the ice. “You’ll see that shape throughout,” Buck says. “It’s very subtle, but that’s basically [evidence of] Elsa’s magic. That’s her signature.”

As you may be able to tell from the costumes, there’s a Scandinavian vibe to the movie — which is appropriate, since the author of The Snow Queen source material was Danish writer Hans Christian Andersen. (He also penned The Little Mermaid, which inspired a much more beach-friendly Disney film.)

In addition to studying fjords and glaciers, the filmmakers also did research into the relationships between sisters and brothers. Disney hosted a massive “Sibling Summit” for the Frozen team, inviting employees to bring in their brothers or sisters and talk about their rivalries and relationships. “We got a ton of information from that, and it kind of grounds these characters in believability in magical and unbelievable world,” Buck says.

It’s fairly common for people to grow up feeling like they live in the shadow of an older brother or sister. “You just summed up my relationship with my sister instead,” joked Lee. “Anna is a very relatable character to those of us who are not superheroes. She’s wonderfully flawed, but fearless. And wants to do the right thing. Those are the characters I love.”

In addition to picking the brains of sisters, they also surveyed guys about their relationships with powerful women. “From the Kristoff angle, we were trying to get at what it’s like to be a guy, trying to understand women — basically,” Lee says with a laugh.

We still have a few seasons to go through before Frozen hits theaters nearly a year from now, on Nov. 27, 2013.

  • Movie
  • 95 minutes