USA 2016, 108 mins
Directors: Byron Howard, Rich Moore

In its 92-year history, Walt Disney Animation Studios has created a long and storied legacy of talking-animal films – from Mickey Mouse’s debut short Steamboat Willie to Bambi, Dumbo, The Jungle Book, Robin Hood and The Lion King. WDAS returns to the wild with the feature film Zootropolis. ‘We all grew up watching the great Disney animal films – we were immersed in those worlds,’ says director Byron Howard. ‘My favourite childhood film was Robin Hood, and we wanted to honour that legacy, but in a new and different way that dives even deeper. We started by asking, “What would a mammal metropolis look like if it were designed by animals?” The idea was incredibly exciting to us.’

Comprised of neighbourhoods that celebrate different cultures, Zootropolis is a city like no other. There’s ritzy Sahara Square for desert animals, Tundratown for the polar bears and moose, the hot and humid Rain Forest District, Little Rodentia for the tiniest mammals, and Bunnyburrow for the millions and millions of bunnies. The downtown area, Savanna Central, is a melting pot where a wide array of mammals from every environment come together.

Zootropolis is a place where no matter what you are – from the biggest elephant to the smallest shrew – you can be anything. But when rookie 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 Nick Wilde – a fast-talking, scam-artist fox – to solve a mystery.

‘At its core, Zootropolis is a buddy movie,’ says director Rich Moore. ‘Judy and Nick – a rabbit and a fox – are natural enemies by definition. So these characters don’t exactly get along at first. They come to the relationship with ideas about each other – beliefs that aren’t informed or accurate.’

According to Howard, the fact that the buddies don’t get along fuels the film’s comedy. ‘Judy is the eternal optimist who believes anyone can be anything – it’s the city’s motto, after all,’ he says. ‘Nick is the complete opposite. He’s a cynic. He believes we are what we are. So we put this country bumpkin who’s full of vim and vigour in the middle of the big city alongside Nick – the realist – and he gets to have a lot of fun messing with her. But she has a few tricks up her sleeve.’

Filmmakers conceived and built the vast and detailed world of Zootropolis, populating it with 64 different species of animals that retain what makes each animal so amazing in the real world – but these animals talk and wear pants. ‘The team spent 18 months just researching animals,’ says producer Clark Spencer. ‘We met with animal experts from all over the world, including Disney’s Animal Kingdom at Walt Disney World. We travelled 9,000 miles to Kenya, Africa, for a two-week deep dive into animal personality and behaviour. We wanted each species of animal to be real, to feel authentic and to be based on their real-world behaviour.’

‘I think all of us were profoundly changed by our trip to Africa,’ adds Jared Bush, who is co-director and one of the screenwriters. ‘It’s such an amazing experience, being around hundreds, thousands of animals. In this movie, we want to feel that density, which is a lot of work. We came back after that trip with a sincere need to make it right.’

Zootropolis features a remarkable roster of voice talent tapped to help bring the mammal metropolis to life, including Ginnifer Goodwin (ABC’s Once upon a Time, Something Borrowed, Walk the Line) as rookie rabbit officer Judy Hopps. Jason Bateman (Horrible Bosses 2, This Is Where I Leave You) voices the con-artist fox, Nick Wilde. We feel fortunate to have this calibre of talent – they’ve really embraced all of this story’s heart and humour in a way I don’t think we’ve seen before,’ says Spencer. ‘We recorded Ginnifer and Jason together as much as their schedules would allow. I think we have something special happening, which is exciting.’

Research is the foundation for all of Walt Disney Animation Studios’ films – something executive producer John Lasseter believes is required to create a great story. So when the filmmakers behind Zootropolis decided to create an all-animal world, they went wild – literally – when it came to research. In addition to their trek to Africa, team members spent time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and San Diego’s Wild Animal Park; they interviewed several experts and visited the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. ‘We did about 18 months of really solid research into animals,’ says director Byron Howard. ‘We studied how they interact in the wild, how they socialise and how their individual communities are built in the natural world.

‘We found that the majority of animals – 90 percent – are prey,’ continues Howard. ‘Only 10 percent are predators. So while we always assumed that predators ruled the animal world, they’re actually the minority. We talked to anthropologists and sociologists and took a look way back through human history – any time you have a majority and minority, social issues arise. We learned and observed that animals of all kinds tend to stay with animals that look like them; they find refuge and protection within their individual groups and tend to avoid animals that are different.’

So the research led the filmmakers to a story that deals with stereotypes and bias. ‘We set out to make a funny animal movie,’ says Howard. ‘But the more digging we did, we saw an opportunity to talk about something important – while still having great fun with the world, the characters and the story.’

According to head of story Josie Trinidad, filmmakers first looked at prey versus predator and how that would affect a community like Zootropolis. ‘Then we leaned into animal stereotypes – elephants never forget, foxes are sly, rabbits are timid – everyone has a stereotype they’re fighting against. That’s something everyone in the audience can appreciate.’
Production notes

Directors: Trent Correy, Josie Trinidad
USA 2022
11 mins

Directed by: Byron Howard, Rich Moore
Co-directed by: Jared Bush
©: Disney Enterprises Inc.
Created and produced by: Walt Disney Animation Studios
Executive Producer: John Lasseter
Produced by: Clark Spencer
Production Manager: Jeff Chasin
Post-production Supervisor: David Okey
Casting: Jamie Sparer Roberts
Screenplay: Jared Bush, Phil Johnston
Story: Byron Howard, Jared Bush, Rich Moore, Josie Trinidad, Jim Reardon, Phil Johnston, Jennifer Lee
Director of Cinematography – Layout: Nathan Detroit Warner
Director of Photography: Brian Leach
Visual Effects Supervisor: Scott Kersavage
Head of Animation: Renato Dos Anjos
Co-head of Animation: Tony Smeed
Animation Supervisors: Nathan Engelhardt, Jennifer Hager, Robert Huth, Kira Lehtomaki, Chad Sellers
Edited by: Fabienne Rawley, Jeremy Milton
Production Designer: David Goetz
Art Director – Characters: Cory Loftis
Art Director – Environments: Matthias Lechner
End Title Designer: Mary Meacham Hogg
Prints by: FotoKem
Original Score Composed by: Michael Giacchino
Score Orchestrated and Conducted by: Tim Simonec
Sound Designer: Addison Teague
Re-recording Mixers: David E. Fluhr, Gabriel Guy
Supervising Sound Editor: Addison Teague

Voice Cast
Ginnifer Goodwin (Judy Hopps)
Jason Bateman (Nick Wilde)
Idris Elba (Chief Bogo)
Jenny Slate (Bellwether)
Nate Torrence (Clawhauser)
Bonnie Hunt (Bonnie Hopps)
Don Lake (Stu Hopps)
Tommy Chong (Yax)
J.K. Simmons (Mayor Lionheart)
Octavia Spencer (Mrs Otterton)
Alan Tudyk (Duke Weaselton)
Shakira (Gazelle)

USA 2016©
108 mins

Wed 2 Aug 14:20; Mon 14 Aug 20:30; Sun 27 Aug 13:15
Turning Red
Wed 2 Aug 20:20; Tue 8 Aug 14:20; Sat 26 Aug 15:30
The Jungle Book
Thu 3 Aug 14:20; Sun 6 Aug 13:00; Wed 16 Aug 20:45; Wed 30 Aug 14:20
Thu 3 Aug 18:00; Sat 19 Aug 17:30
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Fri 4 Aug 18:00; Sun 13 Aug 18:10; Tue 22 Aug 14:20; Wed 23 Aug 20:20
101 Dalmatians
Sat 5 Aug 13:20; Thu 10 Aug 14:20; Sat 19 Aug 15:30; Tue 29 Aug 14:20
Bedknobs and Broomsticks
Sat 5 Aug 15:40; Thu 17 Aug 14:20; Sun 27 Aug 18:20
Sister Act
Sat 5 Aug 20:40; Fri 18 Aug 18:20
Zootropolis (aka Zootopia)
Sun 6 Aug 13:10; Fri 25 Aug 18:00
Silent Cinema: Disney’s Silent Shorts + intro
Sun 6 Aug 15:30
Freaky Friday
Sun 6 Aug 18:20; Fri 18 Aug 20:30; Thu 24 Aug 20:50
The Parent Trap
Mon 7 Aug 18:00; Sun 20 Aug 15:10
Wed 9 Aug 14:20; Sat 12 Aug 11:30 (+ extended intro); Mon 14 Aug 14:20; Sun 20 Aug 19:00
Mary Poppins
Wed 9 Aug 17:50; Mon 21 Aug 14:20; Mon 28 Aug 13:00
Wed 9 Aug 20:30; Mon 28 Aug 12:30
The Love Bug
Fri 11 Aug 20:30; Sat 12 Aug 11:50; Sun 20 Aug 13:30
A Disney Day for Young Audiences
Sat 12 Aug 11:30-16:30
Sat 12 Aug 18:00; Sat 26 Aug 12:00
Sat 12 Aug 20:30; Sat 19 Aug 13:00; Thu 24 Aug 14:20
The Lion King
Sun 13 Aug 13:00 (+ Funday Sing-along); Sat 26 Aug 20:30; Thu 31 Aug 14:20
The Fiendishly Difficult Disney Quiz
Sun 13 Aug 15:30 Blue Room
Sun 13 Aug 15:50; Wed 16 Aug 14:20; Sat 26 Aug 12:20; Mon 28 Aug 16:20
Finding Nemo
Sun 13 Aug 18:30; Sun 27 Aug 13:30
The Rescuers
Mon 14 Aug 18:30; Sat 19 Aug 15:50
Sat 19 Aug 12:00; Tue 29 Aug 20:30
Dick Tracy
Fri 25 Aug 20:40; Tue 29 Aug 18:10 (+ intro by Ben Roberts, BFI CEO)
The Little Mermaid
Sun 27 Aug 16:00; Mon 28 Aug 16:40

With thanks to The Walt Disney Company

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Programme notes and credits compiled by Sight and Sound and the BFI Documentation Unit
Notes may be edited or abridged
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