With the recent trailer drop of Disney’s latest feature Zootopia, we’re all abuzz over the world in which humans don’t exist in a modern civilized world of mammals. We got our first look at Jason Bateman as a sly Fox named Nick Wilde who gets roped into helping a spunky bunny named Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin. The two are natural enemies so while Judy
optimistically trusts Nick to solve a mystery, you never know if the Fox will give into his shady
Wanna find out more about the awesome anthropomorphic animal world?
The Movie Chickk was able to attend an early press day to discover the story behind Zootopia.
Here are five fantastic facts we learned about the 2016 Disney release.
The Story Trust
Zootopia comes from the story trust, a group composed of writers, animators and collaborators from Disney which operates much like Pixar’s BrainTrust. The idea is to put filmmaking back in the hands of filmmakers, not execs to tell timeless stories that are entertaining for all ages. Ideally, they will live up to Walt Disney’s standard of films which combine humor with deep emotion.
An Animal Movie Like None Other
The trust asked, ‘How do you follow films like Frozen and Big Hero 6?’ and decided to revisit
the animal genre, which boasts films like Dumbo and Bambi, in a new and unique way. The
Zootopia team was sent to the Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World to conduct research
before jetting off to Kenya, Africa to study animals in nature. While the society in the film is a
world not unlike ours, it’s made to fit the scale of mammals large and small, fast and slow to
precise detail. So for example, while on the research trips, animators discovered that the texture of animals fur responded to environments in different ways and as such each species in the film was animated to reflect how they would really look in any given circumstance. Then attention was given to scale as Zootopia is a world designed by animals and so the massive metropolis is balanced to be built for everyone. The monorail in the film can fit giraffes but also has small compartments for rodents.
Judy Hopps, Bunny Cop
The film’s lead is Judy Hopps, a bunny from a suburban burrow who is heading out to the city
for the first time to become a police officer. Excited to chase her dreams of fighting crime, her
aspirations are challenged by the status quo when she realizes her beat is the parking ticket
one as a meter maid.
“Our goal was to present this great place. Judy learns even if you have big dreams, sometimes
the world has other opinions”,
shared director Rich Moore
What’s really cool is that Judy isn’t phased by her assignment and disappointed. Goodwin
delivers that constant go-getter attitude and is perfect as Hopps. You believe it when she goes
out and makes the best of her situation while seeking the opportunity to prove herself which is
when she comes across Nick Wilde.
Nick Wilde, Naughty By Nature
Of course the fox character and foil to Judy would be played by Jason Bateman. Disney was
seeking an actor who could be the modern day equivalent of a young Bill Murray and Chevy
Chase and Bateman was a no brainer!
“He came in and said he (and his daughters) loved Princess and the Frog and asked, ‘Is it going to be like Princess and the Frog?’He was in. Everything you want Jason Bateman to be, (that) charming, smart, affable guy. He could say the most cutting things and love him.”, said
director Byron Howard.
Wilde is set to show Judy her place in the world is the one nature put her in. After conning her
and taking advantage of her kindness when she bought his ‘son’ a huge elephant sized ice pop
(which he melted down to make tiny hamster sized pops to resell), they’re forced to work
together to solve the disappearance of an otter who Nick has the misfortune of being the last
person to have seen. And of course, this also makes him a suspect.
Are You Predator Or Prey? Hero Or Villain? Who defines you?
The film presents two underdogs who live in a mammal metropolis that’s a melting pot of
everything not always living in harmony. The choice to have the leads be a bunny and a fox
came down to having two animals that could key audiences into the story as equals but also
present them as predator and prey. But what really defines these characters in the film is
explored when the two face the expectations of the world around them and who they want to be.
“We never want to preach. What we like to do is take on an issue and examine it. There’s a
message or moral or theme. You define you. The world has an opinion of who you are but
ultimately you decide who you are.” revealed director Rich Moore.
Will the Fox decide to be more than he was assigned to be in nature? Will Judy overcome the
labels placed and her and prove herself to be the best cop she knows she is? We’ll find out next
year in Zootopia!