And on the first day, Walt Disney Animation Studios brought D23 Expo guests a first look at many of its upcoming titles, including Zootopia. Slated for a 2016 release, the film is described as a “buddy action comedy set in a world where humans never existed.” Tangled director Byron Howard is set to direct the movie from a script written by Jared Bush (NBC’s Who Wants to Marry My Dad?; The CW’s All of Us). Learn more about the film after the break.
Revealed during the panel, Howard and Bush have been working on Zootopia for the past year and a half. The movie was inspired by their love of Disney’s 1973 animated feature Robin Hood in hopes that they can continue “Disney’s amazing legacy of animal-based animated films.”
Disney Animation has become quite the powerhouse with Tangled and most recently Wreck-It Ralph. The worlds and the characters they’ve created have complemented some really strong stories. The filmmakers go on to say, “if you squint at anything in the world of Zootopia, it will look like a natural real world habitat.”
So what does that mean? The duo wants to bring a world together where everything is “designed” by the animals, not influenced by the advancement of our “human” society. Howard and Bush spoke with experts from anthropologists to safari guides to imagineers to begin dreaming up a civilization that would be “distinctly animal.”
In Zootopia, the filmmakers describe a mountain as an apartment building, they’re “habitats” and not “neighborhoods,” Tundratown has polar bears that enjoy karaoke, the animals read The Wall Street Gerbil, Rabbits live in the Burrow Burough in the Rabbit Transit District, and Little Rodencha has tiny streets for rodents.
That all sounds like good fun if it can all be executed well into the story rather than just developing it just for the sake of saying they could. I loved how Wreck-It Ralph fully realized the rules of video games to incorporate them into the story and how the characters interacted with each other.
Of course not all of the animals get along with one another, which causes larger problems throughout the city. I can only imagine that Zootopia will metaphorically comment on human race relations and creating a unified world of peace for all. The main characters include Nick Wilde, a fox, and Lt. Judy Hopps, a rabbit.
Here’s the first concept art (click to enlarge):
Here’s the official plot synopsis for Zootopia, courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios:
In the animal city of Zootopia, a fast-talking fox who’s trying to make it big goes on the run when he’s framed for a crime he didn’t commit. Zootopia’s top cop, a self-righteous rabbi, is hot on his tail, but when both become targets of a conspiracy, they’re forced to team up and discover even natural enemies can become best friends.
It would seem that Disney Animation is continuing to use the Pixar playbook by pairing up unlikely characters that must befriend each other to overcome the odds a la Toy Story, Ratatouille, WALL-E, Up, etc. I’m not saying I’m not game, but just calling it hows I sees it.
Zootopia is set for a 2016 release.
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