During our most recent press trip to L.A. for the #StarWarsEvent, we were able to take a break from the intergalactic hoopla, and briefly enter the world of Zootopia. We were able to interview Directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore, and Producer Clark Spencer. They gave us an amazing peek at Disney Animation’s new film, due to hit theaters March 4th.
Zootopia is a world full of anthropomorphic (which means they stand upright) animals, who wear clothes, have jobs, and live regular day-to-day lives. Here’s the twist: there are no humans in this world. Byron Howard, Richard Moore, and Clark Spencer all admitted that they had lots of fun creating this world with their team.
Clark mentions that the gambit of Disney Animated films featuring animals have been “incredibly funny films, and very deeply emotional.” After finishing production on Tangled, Byron Howard became entranced with the idea of creating another animal-centered film, even drying animals over and over. Eventually, the team thought up Zootopia. John Lasseter, Chief Creative Officer of of Pixar, Walt Disney and DisneyToon Studios, was so excited about the creation of Zootopia that he immediately hugged Byron after the announcement.
Research for Zootopia started at Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, and evolved into a trip to Kenya. The time that Byron, Rich and Clark spent observing the watering hole has been a big factor of the animal interactions in the film.
Fun Facts about Zootopia:
- The animators were as detailed as possible when creating the characters, right down to the color and movement of their hair. Did you know that polar bears’ hair isn’t white, but clear? It looks white because it reflects the white of the snow.
- When animators start creating characters, they start with walk cycles. It was a fun challenge trying to create walk cycles for 4-legged animals.
- Most animals are measured by mice. Yes, mice. A wildebeest is about 24 mice high. They stack a lot of mice in Zootopia.
- Zootopia consists of Sahara Square, Tundra Town, The Rainforest District, Little Rodencha, and Bunny Burrow.
- Main character Judy Hopps, played by Ginnifer Goodwin, is the first bunny to become a Zootopia police officer.
- Sharika created the song “Try Everything” for the film. There is a snippet of the track in Zootopia’s latest trailer.
- The team visited with an expert on the evolution of New York City, to learn the intricacies of a large city, and how small sectors like Chinatown and Little Italy came to be.
- While the music in Zootopia is phenomenal, thanks to a score by Michael Giacchino, the movie is not a musical.
- Byron Howard says that the story was the hardest part of film development, because the writers and animators cared about it so much.
There are a few underlying themes within the film, that many will enjoy seeing pan out. Byron, Rich and Clark all mention that viewers will encounter bias and stereotyping during the film. Byron also adds “I would say big one or one for me that I really take from it is the theme that we define ourselves. You know the world may have an opinion of us but it is up to you to define who you are.”
Rich Moore sums up the lesson behind Zootopia by quoting main character Nick Fox — “Yes, we are what we are, but maybe if we can learn to look past that, we might just discover who we could be.”
Zootopia arrives in theaters March 4th, 2016!
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