As opening weekend numbers continue to roll in, Coco can officially be called a box office success and crowd-pleasing favorite. But there’s one thing about this theatrical rollout Disney/Pixar shouldn’t be celebrating: Their wildly miscalculated decision to force audiences to sit through what is essentially a 21-minute advertisement for a Frozen sequel that’s still two years away, before they can enjoy the main event. Audiences have been very vocal in their complaints about the merciless runtime (Pixar’s shorts tend to clock in under 10 minutes) and general dreadfulness (there are five new songs here, all of them instantly forgettable) of Olaf's Frozen Adventure—to the point where at least one theater in Mexico has reportedly let it go all together.
There are still plenty of theaters here in the U.S. that will continue to subject its patrons to this bland holiday-themed romp, but that doesn’t mean you have to be a part of it, whether you’re planning on seeing Coco for a first or third time. Thanks to the tightly-run schedules of national theater chains, and based on my own sad experience of suffering through it—and being annoyed enough by how long it took that I had to know right then and there how much time had been wasted—it’s fairly easy to calculate when Olaf’s Frozen Adventure might end and Coco begin, so that you may arrive late and avoid the former completely.
On Friday, I attended a 6:15 p.m. screening of Coco at the Regal Cinemas outpost in my local Brooklyn neighborhood. Per usual, as soon as the clock struck 6:15, the lights partially dimmed and several obligatory targeted ads for various products rolled one by one, followed by about five or six trailers for some mostly terrible-looking kids’ cartoons. Each of these trailers clocked in at around 2:00-2:30 seconds—standard stuff. Then, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure played, complete with credits, for 21 minutes. (Around what was probably the 10 minute mark, I turned to my date and said, “My god, how long is this?”) As the credits rolled, I looked at my phone to see that it was now 6:51 p.m. But wait, there was still yet more: An approximately minute-long clip in which co-directors Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina gushed about how proud they were of Coco.
Only then—finally—at around 6:52 p.m., did the infamous Pixar logo appear and the tale of Miguel and his family begin. And there you have it: Give yourself approximately 37 minutes after the designated time to make your way into the room and not see Olaf’s Frozen Adventure. (Give or take a couple of minutes, if you know your theater tends to show fewer pre-movie ads and trailers than the bigger chains.) Of course, if this theater’s weak and doesn’t allow you to reserve your seats ahead of time, you might have no choice but to bawl uncontrollably at Coco’s gut-wrenching finale from the very front row. But if the discomfort of a pinch in the neck sounds far more appealing to you than the discomfort of watching a dimwitted snowman go door-to-door asking strangers about their holiday traditions, then surely that’s a sacrifice worth making.