A few weeks back, I got a chance to attend the early lead press day for Disney‘s Zootopia. We got to see a bunch of scenes from the film, as well as chat with the people behind it. You may have seen the sloth DMV trailer (there isn’t a single animated scene in movie history that is closer to real life, by the way), but there is so much more. We learned all about the world of the anthropomorphic animals, about the lovely message about being who you want to be and how you have to throw out scenes if they don’t work in the grand scheme of things, even if they’re great.
First, here is the official info on the film: “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. Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Zootopia, a comedy-adventure directed by Byron Howard and Rich Moore and co-directed by Jared Bush, opens in theaters on March 4, 2016.”
We got a chance to watch a few scenes and it’s pretty clear that the message in this film is about doing what you love and being who you really are, despite what the world tells you that you should be. Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) is a bunny who really wants to be a cop. In the world of Zootopia, cops are larger animals. As soon as she goes into the big city (which is actually a lovely scene set to a new song by Shakira), she’s relegated to the role of traffic cop. In one of the scenes, we see Judy not only do her best at that job, but find ways to make herself more important. She manages to thwart con artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) at a few of his games. Still, no one will really give her a chance.
It’s an important message right now. It’s one particularly important to Legion of Leia, as I just spent the day defending the fact that girls do like Star Wars and that we always have. I guess this one just struck a chord with me. We saw another clip that demonstrated this as well. Nick is at an elephant ice cream store with a little mouse and wants to get him some ice cream. The elephants refuse to serve him because he’s not the same species. Judy steps in and gently suggests that the elephants aren’t using gloves to cover their noses, and are in fact selling snot ice cream, so they’d better serve the mouse. Throughout the film, Judy tries to convince Nick that he doesn’t have to be what he’s told to be either. He doesn’t have to be sly just because he’s a fox.
In addition to the message, we learned about the editing process. As we’ve heard about on earlier films, the Disney editing process is harsh, but important. Everyone is encouraged to disagree and point out issues, no matter where they are in production. We learned about one scene where Judy comes back to her tiny apartment and talks to her mom. They’re so excited to see that she’s only a traffic cop so she’ll be safe. Poor Judy is really sad. The scene actually made me tear up. The thing is, it was so sad that it was impossible to transition into a happier one afterward. Despite the fact that the scene was fully animated, they threw it out and changed it. It’s still got the same elements, but it’s a little more perky and sassy. Judy is having a rough time, but she’s not curling up in bed with stuffed animals.
We’ll have more info from the early press day for Zootopia in the coming weeks, so stay tuned! Zootopia will hit theaters on March 4, 2016.