‘What You Should Know’ is a Rotoscopers series that gives you a detailed and (somewhat) objective rundown of this year’s animated films, right before or on the day they hit theaters. That way, you can make a decision on whether or not to see the movie based on the information provided.
DIRECTED BY: Byron Howard and Rich Moore (co-directed by Jared Bush)
WRITTEN BY: Jared Bush and Phil Johnston
STARRING: Ginnifer Goodwin (Judy Hopps), Jason Bateman (Nick Wilde), Idris Elba (Chief Bogo), J.K. Simmons (Leodore Lionheart), Tommy Chong (Yax), Octavia Spencer (Mrs. Otterton), Jenny Slate (Dawn Bellweather), and Shakira (Gazelle).
MUSIC BY: Michael Giacchino
STUDIO: Walt Disney Pictures
PRODUCTION COMPANY: Walt Disney Animation Studios
WHAT’S IT ABOUT?:
Zootopia is somewhere between a neo-noir mystery and a buddy-comedy that takes place in a world that’s not only populated by animals, but also is set within an ‘animal kingdom’ that just so happens to resemble our own modern society (in more ways than one). Judy Hopps, the new recruit for the Zootopia Police Department, is tasked with solving a mystery in 48 hours. To do this, she’ll need help from an unexpected partner in small-time con artist Nick Wilde.
Think a family-friendly 48 Hrs. or Lethal Weapon.
A BRIEF HISTORY:
The film was announced three years ago, during the 2013 D23 Expo. The film was birthed from the concept of wanting to do a film similar to Disney’s Robin Hood adaptation from the 1970s. The idea was to place it in a city that looked and felt as if it were designed by animals.
IMPORTANT STUFF TO KNOW:
The film was originally set to have Nick Wilde as the central character, in a story that would have involved him being framed for a crime he didn’t commit. It wasn’t until later that the creative team decided that the film would be better served by making Judy Hopps the lead character, with a focus on her optimism and idealistic outlook versus Nick’s cynical worldview.
One thing that didn’t change from start to finish was Jason Bateman, whose name was attached to the film before it was even officially announced.
For composer Michael Giacchino, this will mark his first feature-length project with Walt Disney Animation Studios.
Anthropomorphic (talking) animals are a common sight in feature animation, but what separates Zootopia from the pack is the creative world-building inherent in the premise. It’s not just a film that centers around talking animals. The film places the characters in a fully-realized setting that feels familiar yet different from the rest of the crop.
The film is also getting extra points for using the story and the setting to dish out blunt commentary on real-life issues like racial profiling, prejudice, and discrimination (institutionalized or not). Combine that with a top-notch cast (J.K. Simmons is 2 for 2 with feature animation roles) and no shortage of top-shelf animation and you have yet another Disney hit!
If you are already burned out on animated ‘talking animal’ movies for 2016, Zootopia might not be your speed (it will give you something different though).
Also, expect the heavier themes to fly past the heads of younger viewers (not exactly a con, per say).
Following the fantastic start to the 2016 year in animation (Kung Fu Panda 3), Zootopia looks primed to continue the good fortunes of feature animation at the box office. Early tracking shows Zootopia looking at a $60-$70 million opening weekend, with analysts predicting the film potentially opening in the higher range of those estimates.
With Kung Fu Panda 3 in the books (somewhat), Zootopia will share that film’s advantage of not having any stiff competition. The film should have an easy path going forward, with a window of at least 2+ weeks before Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice takes center stage on March 25.
It helps too that it’s already making a killing overseas, with an estimated gross of $93.2 million overseas. In summary, the reemergence in animated talking-animal movies continues unabated.
WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING:
The film currently has a 99% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus states as follows:
The brilliantly well-rounded Zootopia offers a thoughtful, inclusive message that’s as rich and timely as its sumptuously state-of-the-art animation — all while remaining fast and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained.
If this article has you interested in seeing Zootopia, buy your tickets here on Fandango!
Thank you for reading this installment of What You Should Know!
What do you think? Are you interested in Zootopia?
Edited by: Morgan Stradling