As the first of the many big announcements we’ll learn this weekend at Disney’s fourt D23 Expo, it was revealed during the Walt Disney Animation Studios panel that international superstar Shakira has joined the Zootopia voice cast as the character Gazelle. Mirroring her professional career, Shakira’s character is the biggest pop sensation in Zootopia.
The singer was not present at the event, but a pre-recorded message appeared on screen for fans to see the Shakira make the announcement. In attendance, Ginnifer Goodwin, who lends her voice to the rabbit officer Judy Hopps, was joined by directors Byron Howard (Tangled) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph), as well as producer Clark Spencer.
In order to capture a fully realized animal kingdom, Moore and Howard described on stage their process of visiting wild areas of Kenya to study behavior and movements of animals in their natural habitats. They also researched animal biology and shared their insights with attendees that polar bear fur is not white, but clear. So they worked with their animation team to make sure the CG polar bear character’s hundred of thousands of hairs were clear. That’s just one aspect out of the thousands of animals living in the world of that will depicted in the film.
The filmmakers went on to discuss the animal neighborhoods, such as the upscale Dubai like Sahara Square; the snowy Russian-like territory of Tundra Town; the humid Rainforest District; and the over populated Bunny District that is host to millions of rabbits living in bunny-shaped houses built.
The Zootopia teaser trailer was released earlier this year, and fans in attendance got to see two clips, plus a tease of an all-new original song, “Try Anything,” written by Sia and performed by Shakira.
The first clip featured Judy Hopps, who comes from the outskirts of town with big city dreams. An ambitious fresh cop on the Zootopia police force, Judy is stuck on parking meter duty due to her size while bigger animals like rhinos and hippos carry out more “important” tasks. Judy is seen eating lunch at a local ice cream parlor run by an elephant. Here she encounters Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a con-man fox, who stops in with a little white fox he claims is his son. After a bit of coaxing, the elephant gives Wilde a jumbo pop on the house, which the sly fox then breaks apart into smaller pieces and sells individually.
The second clip shows both Nick and Judy arriving at a DMV to get some paperwork. Unfortunately for them, the DMV is operated by sloths, which delivers some comical satire. By the time Judy and Nick get what they’re looking for hours have passed as Flash the sloth works as diligently to complete their request.
Here’s the official plot synopsis for Zootopia, courtesy of Walt Disney Animation Studios:
The modern mammal metropolis of Zootopia is a city like no other. Comprised of habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown, it’s a melting pot where animals from every environment live together—a place where no matter what you are, from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew, you can be anything. But when optimistic Officer Judy Hopps arrives, she discovers that being the first bunny on a police force of big, tough animals isn’t so easy. Determined to prove herself, she jumps at the opportunity to crack a case, even if it means partnering with a fast-talking, scam-artist fox, Nick Wilde, to solve the mystery.
Zootopia is set to hit theaters on March 4, 2016.
Image Source: D23