While in Los Angeles for the red carpet premiere of Alice Through the Looking Glass, we did a special press event for the BluRay release of Zootopia. What better way to celebrate this release, but with a special interview
The directors, producer, writers and animators worked hard on making Zootopia. They even went to Africa to learn more about the different animals. Now that the movie was such a HUGE success and the DVD/BluRay is coming out, what are they up to now? Rich Moore told us that this felt like the “end of the road” for Zootopia. They have been working on this movie and promoting it for so long, now “it’s a reflective time” for them. It’s still out in the markets in Japan and here, and Rich feels great about how this film that they all worked so hard on and believed in “has been embraced so lovingly by the audience” and we have all “fallen in love with our characters.”
Byron Howard chimed in and said, “It just goes beyond us so quickly and we spend a long time like Rich says with ourselves in rooms just talking about these ideas and hope will catch on, but then see what people gravitate to in different countries, even the fact that zootopia as a word is — it’s not a thing. It was a weird word before that we made up and now it’s a thing that people know and just like you said like with Disney movies we’re very aware of this.”
Zootopia is no longer a thing…it’s a word! When you hear Zootopia, you know exactly what they are talking about! Zootopia takes place in a world where humans never existed. The animals walk on two feet, wear clothes, have occupations and use technology just like us. There are good and innocent citizens, and citizens who make wrong choices…and stereotypes are based on an animal’s characteristics…and they judge quickly just like humans do.
When it comes to Disney and movies, Byron said, “We know that these things stay around forever which goes way beyond us and so we try to be very responsible about what movies are saying, about the qualities of the characters because we fall in love with the characters just as much as we hope the audience will and we try to as much as we can ourselves and what we love about our families and the world into these movies that people can relate and find something common no matter where, where they go.” What was really impressive and educational was for the team to watch the different nationalities of people fall in love with this movie in so many different ways. Everyone took something different away…either a love for Nick, admiration for Judy, etc. That was very rewarding for the entire team! Clark Spencer also agreed that seeing the reactions and responses of people was pretty amazing. “Some people look at it and they look at the empowerment of Judy as character and they look at someone who’s trying to, blaze that trail. One of the interesting thing for us was in China where the movie’s been huge but then it was that train ride. The train ride going into the city because in China right now there’s such a migration from the country side to the big city and kids leaving their families and they do it by a train. And for them that was a really emotional moment in the film for the parents to let their daughters get on a train and go in the city and we knew that people might relate to that concept of having to let go of your child at certain point in time but not in the way that they did because of the fact that it was a train ride from the country side into the city. I mean we never could have guessed that but it was one of the huge things and one of the reasons the movie performed was people could really relate to that on an emotional level and I think those are the things where when you’re making it you’re in it making the story that you see and then it’s fun to watch how the world sees that same story from their own perspective, their own lives.”
During the animation process, you never know what will work and what won’t until you test it out. While working on Zootopia they noticed there were a lot of scary moments. Rich said, “We would see grown men in our audiences from our studio kind of previewing it oh, my god. Scared people. And at one point Clark was like man, are we gonna have to pull back on some of these, because we had two pretty good ones. We’re gonna have to pull back on those? It’s gonna be too scary?” However, after they did a preview screening in Arizona, they decided to keep the scary moments. People just ate it up! Little kids and parents both loved the scares. It was an overwhelming, positive response. “It’s like the whole audience really loves those startles, you know. It’s like a thrill ride. It’s like a roller coaster.”
Some people think Disney is getting scarier and dealing with a lot of death…but in reality Disney has always dealt with hard topics. Byron said, “We like that Disney can deal with real life emotions, things you’d experience. I think it’s going back to Bambi and Lion King. They were very mature ideas but in the way they were presented it’s something that it’s almost like a rite of passage seeing Bambi or seeing Lion King because Lion King was great with the families, allowing them to talk to their families about death and I think the same way with Zootopia. What we’d hoped is that it’s such a tricky subject to talk about bias but in crafting it in a way that the story isn’t a message movie but it comes to the experience of the characters and that you can relate to what Judy’s going through, you can relate to her struggle that people will find a way to relate to that within themselves.”
We all have struggles and it’s nice to have movies that can help us relate to what is going on in our own lives. Movies should be entertaining, but when it’s about something real it affects people. Disney makes you think. Disney makes you feel. Disney is not only entertaining, but educational, emotional, and relatable.
The music in Zootopia spoke volumes! Clark spoke to us about when they first came up with the character Gazelle. “We kind of were thinking of her just as wouldn’t it be funny to have a pop star, a very famous pop star who’s very popular in this world and then Shakira came and talked to us.” Shakira listened to the pitch of the movie and they learned from meeting her in person how she’s very, very down to earth, very real and super intelligent. Did you know she speaks six languages?! “She’s very socially aware and even in that one meeting where we just spend about an hour with her our opinion of what that character should be changed and we started to think about Gazelle as now being a sort of a symbol, a social symbol for the city representing everything that’s great that Judy expects the city to be when she gets there and it’s like that what you hope. She’s hope really kind of embodied and one of the reasons we went to Shakira in the first place is we thought world music is right in the pocket of what Shakira does so well is would be perfect for the movie.”
They did Shakira’s recordings in her amazing recording studio in Barcelona. She invited them all to join her there. While in Barcelona, she told them how she related to Judy because when in Columbia where she grew up she wanted to be a cop. Clark told us, “She saw people being bullied and things happening around her that she wanted to correct and so there was something in her that was kind of meant to be in the movie and that’s remarkable when a voice talent and someone who can bring great music to a film but also have that sort of personal connection.”
At the end of the interview Byron Howard walked us through how to draw Clawhauser! Rich Moore sat next to me while we attempted to draw this cute character.
My kids loved the movie so much they saw it twice while it was in theaters. I knew when it was released we would have to own it!
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Read More About My Amazing Trip To LA
I was invited by Disney to attend an all expenses paid trip to cover the #ThroughTheLookingGlassEvent & #ZootopiaBluRay in LA on 5/22-5/24. All opinions are my own.