Zootropolis (known as Zootopia in the US) is a 2016 American computer-animated buddy comedy-adventure film, produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It is the 55th Disney animated feature film.
It was directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore, co-directed by Jared Bush, and stars the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Bonnie Hunt, Don Lake, Tommy Chong, J. K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk, and Shakira.
Zootropolis details the unlikely partnership between a rabbit police officer and a red fox con artist as they uncover a conspiracy which involves the disappearance of predator inhabitants of a mammalian metropolis. The film premiered at the Brussels Animation Film Festival in Belgium on 13 February 2016, and went into general theatrical release in the United States on 4 March.
The film received universal critical acclaim, with praise directed toward its animation, voice cast, humour, screenplay, and themes about discrimination and social stereotypes. It opened to a record-breaking box office success in several countries and has earned a worldwide gross of over $1 billion, making it the fourth highest-grossing film of 2016 and the 26th highest-grossing film of all time.
The film was chosen by American Film Institute as one of the top ten films of 2016. The film won the Academy Award, Golden Globe, Critics' Choice Movie Award and Annie Award for Best Animated Feature Film, as well as receiving a nomination for the BAFTA Award for Best Animated Film.
Development of the film began when Byron Howard pitched six story ideas to Disney Animation chief creative officer and executive producer John Lasseter, of which three involved animal characters: an all-animal adaptation of The Three Musketeers, a 1960s-themed story about a "mad doctor cat...who turned children into animals," and a "bounty hunter pug in space."
The common thread running through these ideas was that Howard wanted to create a film similar to Disney’s Robin Hood, which also featured animals in anthropomorphic roles. According to Howard, Zootropolis emerged from his desire to create something different from other animal anthropomorphic films, where animals either live in the natural world or in the human world. His concept, in which animals live in a modern world designed by animals for animals, was well received by Lasseter. He suggested that Howard should try combining the 1960s theme with the animal characters, especially the space pug. This led Howard to develop and pitch Savage Seas, an international spy film centered on a rabbit named 'Jack Savage' who was somewhat like James Bond. It was around this time that screenwriter Jared Bush was hired to work on the film; he was excited to work on a spy film because his own father and grandfather had worked for the Central Intelligence Agency.
Howard and Bush continued to develop the film with the assistance of the Disney Story Trust, the studio's top creative personnel who meet regularly to review and discuss all projects in development. The most delightful part of the spy film turned out to be its first act, set in a city created by and for animals. To focus on the all-animal city, Howard eventually dropped the 1960s setting, along with the espionage and international aspects, which caused the film to evolve into a contemporary police procedural in which Nick Wilde was the lead role and Judy Hopps was essentially his sidekick.
a while, "the filmmakers were very committed" to that version
of the story, but then, in November 2014, the filmmakers realized the
film's plot would be more engaging if they reversed the roles to instead
focus on Hopps as opposed to Wilde. The change in perspective caused several
characters to be dropped, including two characters known as 'The Gerbil
Jerks' who were described as "trust-fund gerbils that had nothing
better to do than harass Nick."
In May 2013, The Hollywood Reporter initially reported that Howard was directing the film and that Jason Bateman had been cast, but little else about the film was known at the time. Zootropolis was first officially announced in August 2013 at the D23 Expo, with a March 2016 release date.
Research for the film took place in Disney's Animal Kingdom, as well as in Kenya and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where animators spent eight months studying various animals' walk cycles as well as fur colour. To make the characters' fur even more realistic, they also went to the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County to closely observe the appearance of fur with a microscope under a variety of lighting.
The filmmakers drew inspiration for Zootopia's urban design from major cities including New York City, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Paris, Shanghai, Hong Kong, and Brasília. To develop a city that could actually be inhabited by talking mammals ranging in size from two inches (5 cm) to 27 feet (8.23 m), and from drastically different climates, the filmmakers consulted Americans with Disabilities Act specialists and HVAC system designers. During the development process, Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan F. Horn suggested that Nick should expressly state his disappointment ("Just when I thought someone actually believed in me...") after discovering that Judy still fears him as a predator. In March 2015, it was revealed that Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph) had been added as a director of the film, in addition to Jared Bush (Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero) as co-director.
Disney's most recent work on animating fur was for the titular character of the 2008 film Bolt, but the software they had used at the time was not ready for creating the realistic fur of the animals of Zootropolis. Therefore, the studio's IT engineers developed the fur-controlling software iGroom, which gave character designers precise control over the brushing, shaping and shading of fur and made it possible to create a variety of eccentric character styles for each animal. The software was also able to control an unseen "imaginary" underlayer that gave fur a degree of plushness not seen before. This feature was used to create characters like Officer Clawhauser, who has a big head that is entirely made of spotted fur. Characters with noteworthy numbers of strands of hair or fur included both of the two lead characters, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, who each had around 2.5 million hairs; a giraffe with nine million strands of fur; a gerbil with 480,000 strands; and a rodent with more strands of hair than the 400,000 that were on Elsa's head in Frozen.
The animation process for Zootropolis was the second time Disney used the Hyperion renderer, which they had first used on Big Hero 6. A new fur paradigm was added to the renderer to facilitate the creation of realistic images of the animals' dense fur. Nitro, a real-time display application developed since the making of Wreck-It Ralph, was used to make the fur more consistent, intact and subtle much more quickly, as opposed to the previous practice of having to predict how the fur would work while making and looking at silhouettes or poses for the character. The tree-and-plant generator Bonsai, first used in Frozen, was used to make numerous variations of trees with very detailed foliage.
Zootropolis was produced in makeshift quarters in a giant warehouse in North Hollywood (together with Moana) while Disney Animation's headquarters in Burbank was being renovated.
On 6 May 6, Bateman and Ginnifer Goodwin were announced as having been cast, respectively in the roles of Nick Wilde and Lieutenant Judy Hopps. The filmmakers chose Bateman because they wanted an actor who could bring "a funny yet heartfelt side" with "a wily, dry-witted sort of voice." Bateman described his character as "a crafty, sarcastic schemer," remarking on the role's similarity to many other roles he had done since he was 12. He explained that he had said to the directors: "'What kind of voice do you guys want me to do?' And they just looked at me like I was an idiot and said, 'Just do what you do. Just talk.'"
Commenting on the casting of Goodwin, Moore said that she brought "very centered sweetness, tremendous heart and a great sense of humor"; he described Judy as "a little Pollyanna mixed with Furiosa." Goodwin stated about her character: "People mistake kindness for naivete or stupidity, and she is a good girl through and through. But she's not a dumb bunny."
Zootropolis received universal acclaim from both critics and audiences alike. On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, it has an approval rating of 98%. The site's critical consensus reads, "The brilliantly well-rounded Zootopia offers a thoughtful, inclusive message that's as rich and timely as its sumptuously state-of-the-art animation – all while remaining fast and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained." By the end of 2016, Zootopia was the highest-rated film of 2016, and it won the Golden Tomato Awards for Best Wide Release and Best Animated Movie. On Metacritic, the film has a normalized score of 78 out of 100, indicating "generally favorable reviews." Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Neil Genzlinger of The New York Times considered the movie "funny, smart, [and] thought-provoking." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone wrote that the film "may be the most subversive movie of" 2016, praising its timely message about the harm of prejudice in the face of the prevailing xenophobic political rhetoric at the time of the film's release, and the film's humour. Peter Debruge at Variety stated that the film "plays directly to the studio's strengths." IGN reviewer Eric Goldman gave the film a 9.0 out of 10 'Amazing' score, saying "Zootopia is a wonderful example of how Disney, at its best, can mix its past and present together in a very cool, compelling way. It takes the classic animation trope of animals walking, talking and acting like humans, but gives it a modern spin both in terms of its humor and animation style ... and also in its themes, which are meaningful and fascinatingly topical."
Writing in British Sunday newspaper The Observer, reviewer Mark Kermode found the film to be a "very funny, and very likable holiday treat." He added, "The ensuing drama is nominally a tale of predators succumbing to their animal instincts while frightened prey fear their neighbours. In fact, it's a delightfully well-orchestrated parable about trust and tolerance versus panic and prejudice. An encouragingly upbeat celebration of love and diversity in times of hate and uncertainty. If that all sounds overly on-message, then fear not – the jokes are funny, the characters engaging, and the animation packed with delicious visual detail," before concluding, "[…] this is proper family fun with genuine cross-generational appeal. Hooray!"
In the UK daily newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Robbie Collin noted, "The lion doesn't just lie down with the lamb, they run for City Hall on a joint ticket. It's the diversity dream come true. Or is it? […] Think Busytown by way of Chinatown. It's almost certain to be the most existentially probing talking animal cartoon of the year." Collin added, "Like Nick Nolte and Eddie Murphy in 48 Hrs., albeit considerably cuter, Judy and Nick make a hilariously strained but effective double act – not least thanks to Goodwin and Bateman's tremendous vocal work, which trips along with the effortless swing and snap of great bebop."
Also in The Daily Telegraph, Rosa Prince singled out the film's lead character, Judy Hopps, as a welcome change for Disney animated feature film heroines, such as the Disney Princess franchise. She found that, unlike those characters' focus on romance or family loyalty, Hopps' focus is on her dream career as a police officer and serving her city.
• Ginnifer Goodwin as Officer Judy Hopps, an optimistic European
rabbit from Bunnyburrow who is a newly appointed member of the Zootopia
Police Department assigned to the 1st Precinct.
o Della Saba voices a younger Judy Hopps.
• Jason Bateman as Nicholas P. "Nick" Wilde, a red fox who is a small-time con artist.
o Kath Soucie voices a younger Nick Wilde.
• Idris Elba as Chief Bogo, an African buffalo who is the police chief of the Zootopia Police Department's 1st Precinct.
• Jenny Slate as Dawn Bellwether, a diminutive sheep who is the assistant mayor of Zootopia.
• Nate Torrence as Officer Benjamin Clawhauser, an obese cheetah who works as a dispatcher/desk sergeant for the Zootopia Police Department's 1st Precinct.
• Bonnie Hunt as Bonnie Hopps, a European rabbit from Bunnyburrow who is the mother of Judy Hopps.
• Don Lake as Stu Hopps, a European rabbit from Bunnyburrow who is the father of Judy Hopps and a known carrot farmer.
• Tommy Chong as Yax, a laid-back domestic yak who is the owner of the naturist club Mystic Springs Oasis in Sahara Square.
• J. K. Simmons as Leodore Lionheart, a lion who is the noble, but pompous Mayor of Zootopia.
• Octavia Spencer as Mrs. Otterton, a concerned North American river otter whose husband Emmitt Otterton has gone missing.
• Alan Tudyk as Duke Weaselton, a small-time least weasel crook who is also known for selling bootleg DVDs. The name is a reference to the Duke of Weselton from Frozen, whom Tudyk also voices.
• Shakira as Gazelle, a Thomson's gazelle who is a famous pop star. Shakira also voices Gazelle in the Spanish dub.
• Raymond S. Persi as Flash, the "fastest" three-toed sloth in the DMV (short for Department of Mammal Vehicles).
o Persi also voices Officer Higgins, a hippopotamus who is an elite member of the Zootopia Police Department's 1st Precinct.
• Maurice LaMarche as Mr. Big, an Arctic shrew who is the most fearsome crime boss in Tundratown and is served by a group of polar bears.
• Phil Johnston as Gideon Grey, a red fox from Bunnyburrow who used to bully the young rabbits and sheep when he was young. As an adult, he has made amends with those he picked on and became a much-respected baker. Johnston also voices an angry offscreen character who states that his taxes pay Judy's salary upon being given a parking ticket by her.
• Fuschia! as Major Friedkin, a polar bear who works at the Zootopia Police Academy as drill instructor.
• John DiMaggio as Jerry Jumbeaux Jr., an African elephant who owns Jumbeaux's Café, an ice cream parlor frequented by elephants and other larger mammals. DiMaggio also voices Woolter and Jesse, two tough rams who are Doug's assistants, a moose that gets a parking ticket from Judy, and the pig reporter who asks Judy "Why? Why is this happening?"
• Katie Lowes as Dr. Madge Honey Badger, a honey badger who helps Mayor Lionheart find the source of the "savaged animals."
• Gita Reddy as Nangi, an Indian elephant that works as a yoga instructor at Mystic Springs Oasis.
• Jesse Corti as Manchas, a black jaguar from Zootopia's Rainforest District who is a chauffeur for Zootopia's biggest limo company and is the personal chauffeur to Mr. Big.
• Tom Lister Jr. as Finnick, a fennec fox who is Nick’s partner in crime.
• Josh Dallas as an unnamed frantic domestic pig who is the owner of the "Flora and Fauna" flower shop that is robbed by Duke Weaselton and frantically asks Judy for help. He later appears as a protestor at Gazelle's peace rally arguing with a female leopard.
• Leah Latham as Fru Fru, the daughter of Mr. Big who disapproves of her father doing his criminal business during her wedding. She befriends Judy after she saves her from a runaway doughnut shop sign in Little Rodentia and later names her unborn child after her.
• Rich Moore as Doug, an emotionless ram chemist and sniper with puffy wool who works for Assistant Mayor Bellwether. Moore also voices a gray wolf that is a security guard at Cliffside Asylum.
• Peter Mansbridge as Peter Moosebridge, a moose co-anchor of the ZNN News. The moose is used in the standard version of the film, released in the United States, Italy, France, Canada, Russia, and Mexico. In other countries, the anchor is a different animal voiced by a different person. David Campbell voices a koala newscaster named David Koalabell in the Australian and New Zealand versions. The Brazilian version uses a jaguar named Boi Chá that is voiced by Ricardo Boechat. The Japanese version uses a tanuki named Michael Tanuyama that is voiced by Kazumasa Kora. The Chinese version uses an unnamed giant panda that is also voiced by Mansbridge. The British version uses a moose called Moosos Alexander, voiced by radio journalist Vassos Alexander.
• Byron Howard as Bucky Oryx-Antlerson, a greater kudu who is the neighbor of Judy Hopps.
o Howard also voices Travis, Gideon Grey's black-footed ferret friend.
• Jared Bush as Pronk Oryx-Antlerson, a gemsbok who is the neighbor of Judy Hopps.
• Mark "Rhino" Smith as Officer McHorn, a black rhinoceros police officer who is part of the Zootopia Police Department.
• Josie Trinidad as Mrs. Dharma Armadillo, a nine-banded armadillo who is the landlady of the Grand Pangolin Apartments that Judy Hopps moves into.
• John Lavelle as the unnamed construction mouse foreman of Little Rodentia's construction crew who receives the Pawpsicle sticks from Nick and Finnick.
• Kristen Bell as Priscilla, a three-toed sloth who is Flash's co-worker at the DMV.
The film's score is composed by Michael Giacchino. It marks his first feature-length project for Walt Disney Animation Studios, as he previously scored the Goofy short How to Hook Up Your Home Theater, the two Prep & Landing specials and short film, and the short film The Ballad of Nessie.
In addition to her voice role of Gazelle, pop star Shakira also contributed an original song to the film titled 'Try Everything', which was written by Sia and Stargate. The film's score was recorded by an 80-piece orchestra in November 2015, with Tim Simonec conducting.