Zootopia Zootopia
Feature Film

Disney Announces New Animated CG Pic “Zootopia”

Yesterday at D23 expo, Walt Disney Animation Studios announced Zootopia (working title), a feature slated for 2016 that will be directed by Byron Howard (Bolt, Tangled) and written by Jared Bush (a writer on the TV series All of Us). The film’s set-up is standard buddy-cop comedy, in which a fox named Nick Wilde who is framed for a crime he didn’t commit teams up with rabbit cop Lt. Judy Hops. The twist is that the entire film is set in a world in which humans never existed (a la Pixar’s Cars) and animals have built everything. Entertainment Weekly elaborated on this conceit:

[Disney] also displayed concept images of Zootopia’s title city. “One of the key concepts is if you squint at any frame of film you might think you’re looking at an animal in a natural environment,” Howard said. He then showed a frame of a snow-covered Alpine mountain, which faded into an irregularly shaped white pyramid luxury hotel. Just like New York has Chinatown and Little Italy, Zootopia has distinct regional neighborhoods like Tundratown, Sahara Square, Little Rodenta (the bad part of town, populated by vermin), and Burrowborough, populated by millions of bunnies.

  • John David Douglas Marshall

    Gee, a Disney movie full of animals that do things animals don’t usually do, and one of them is doing the smarm brow? Are Disney just not allowed to do anything except rip off Dreamworks anymore?

  • Christopher Powell

    Sounds Fun. officially looking forward.

  • Jay Sabicer

    Could be just a development sketch, but it looks like Disney is using their Paperman shaders. This could be interesting.

    • SarahJesness

      It is certainly some nice concept art.

    • James EdWard Kennedy JR.

      My thoughts exactly when I heard about this one. If so it’s sure to be a hit visually.

    • Joshua M. Hartzler

      Yeah, I hope it’s goin’ to be a hand drawn animated film.

  • Tim Hodge

    Looking forward to this. Seems they are picking my favorite parts of some of the older films and shorts, i.e Robin Hood (although it has it faults, I love the world in which it’s set), the animated segment of “Bedknobs & Broomsticks, Ben & Me, Wind & the Willows, etc. That’s one reason I liked Kung Fu Panda so much.
    It will be fun to see a new take on an anthropomorphic animal world.

  • Alex Dudley

    A cartoon comprising of a world filled with talking animals with no humans is nothing new. But the art direction will make this interesting!

  • SarahJesness

    A world where humans never existed? That’s not much of a “twist”, there are like, craploads of animated movies with anthropomorphic animal casts in human-less worlds.

    Anyway, this premise doesn’t really grab my attention, but really, execution is what matters most. Maybe it will be really good, who knows? You can never really tell by the premise. Lots of movies and shows sound stupid and/or lame and/or cliche but then are done really well and you get something great. So I’ll pay attention, see the footage, and then see what people say about the actual movie.

    • tredlow

      It’s kind of a twist actually. In movies, humanless anthropomorphic animal worlds are rarely based on the idea of anthropomorphic animals. The worlds of Kung Fu Panda or Disney’s Robin Hood, for example, didn’t really call attention to the fact that the world is built by animals. They look just like human worlds with animals in it.

      That said, I agree with you that execution is what matters most. I find the idea interesting, but it might still suck.

      • SarahJesness

        Yeah, that is a good point.

    • BongBong

      Almost a ‘Fritz the Cat’ premise…

  • Chris Sobieniak

    The very nature of this movie could pull into question the inequalities and prejudices that these animals might face simply for living in their own segregated parts of town. That’s the kind of storytelling I want to see personally.

    • Ant G

      yes but “Rodenta” isn’t particularly original. Why is it in a world where humans never existed, the animals humans detest the most as pests, just happen to be the ones who live in animal utopia’s ghetto?

      • tredlow

        Probably the same reason why the people of Duckburg are so obsessed with the fact that they’re ducks.

  • Saturnome

    No way the film will ever look like this beautiful concept art, right?

    • Mummur

      Just like concept art for every film, game, or product imaginable.

      • Barrett

        Though true to some extent, the divergence between the aesthetic appeal of the concept art and final film is almost always larger when it is 2D concept art for a 3D film, vs. 2D concept art for a 2D animated film. I can count on one hand the number of 3D animated movies that even came close to the excitment and potential one feels looking upon its concept art. I own the “Art Of” books for several 3D films that I didn’t even think were all that great, such as “Robots” and “Cars” just because the concept art is so goddamned appealing.

  • Roberto González

    So…just when I was criticizing that Lasseter and Disney wouldn’t approve something in the vein of Roger Rabbit and the fact they watered down “American Dog”, they announce this, which seems to include crimes and noir cinema elements, even the drawing looks a little like Chris Sanders’ style (although it’s not him).
    We’ll see but it looks pretty good and interesting so far.

    • For what it’s worth, American Dog was watered down by David Stainton before Lasseter came in, which probably screwed with that production.

    • Scott550

      You can’t water down something that was already a complete mess via the “director.” And please, NO more roger rabbit. The first was bad enough. This looks lots better.

      • Roberto González

        Just out for curiosity, what’s not to like about Roger Rabbit? I think it’s the best plotted, best acted, funniest and well crafted combination of animation and life action that they could possibly make, at least in 1988. Maybe the film could have been better in 1940s but I doubt they would do a better job today, especially in the plot and the life action performances.
        And yes, even if “American Dog” was a mess-something I don’t know- you can watered it down by turning something that included guns, giant rabbits and gambling into something as inoffensive and cutesy as “Bolt” (which was ok, but kinda forgettable).

  • What I want to know is, what do the characters eat? Are they all vegetarians? :D

    • That’s the big question I have too. I’d have imagined you’d have to have separate Predatortopia and Preytopia (obviously at war with each other).

      • Chris Sobieniak

        That is certainly the kind of questions I’m sure everyone would be asking about this (or are there non-sentient animals like cattle they simply raise to be eaten anyway). It’s weird when you start trying to question the world beyond a single image here.

  • That goes for pretty much anything with a significant fanbase. That exact thing happened with “Legend of Korra” recently.

    • smoothoperator350

      Thats true, but my point is that google really needs to work on what pictures it search picks up, or parents should be more mindful of what their kids are looking up.

      • hitface

        do you not know what safe search is? a lot of fan artists who draw NSFW art try their best to tag it as such, and most art websites either ban pornographic art,and even if they dont, they require the user to apply a warning filter that says THIS WORK IS ADULT. these days you can really only stumble across porn art if you go specifically looking for it, also, if i remember right, google tailors its results to what you search most for in relation to certain terms.

        • smoothoperator350

          Look up “Foxglove” from Chip and Dale in a google image search, and keep in mind that my complaints are aimed primarily at google.

          Though, if those artists were really concerned about children seeing their work they could just not upload their stuff.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    As was the fate of “Arashi no Yoru Ni” (or “One Stormy Night”, check 8 years ago since it was covered here).

  • Edan

    How about a movie in which both anthropomorphic animals and humans exist? Now that’d be an interesting twist.

    • smoothoperator350

      Unless if the animals were portrayed as just being animals you’d hear cries of “beastality” in todays PC world.

      • Chris Sobieniak

        It’s a shame when they have to pull that out, but that’s what you get when you go there.

    • SarahJesness

      That could actually be an interesting movie. Especially looking at power plays. If we lived in a world full of animals that were just as smart and capable and creative as us, would we still be the dominant species?

      • Chris Sobieniak

        I wouldn’t mind a movie like that really. It would bring up all sorts of psychological hangups we have a a species ourselves in how we try to adapt to such world like that. Whether we live in peace or not is an interesting concept alone that is open to many interpretations depending on how you go about setting the place and time.

    • Cory

      It’s called “Hoodwinked.”

  • Sardonic Tuba

    So at what point in the timeline of this imaginary universe did animals become ashamed of their nakedness?

    • SarahJesness

      At what point did humans?

  • SarahJesness

    Ah, the good ‘ol days…

  • SarahJesness

    I won’t call it 90’s unless he does some form of “cool” sport like surfing, skateboarding, or riding dirt bikes.

  • Scott550

    No. Because it’s not true.

  • tredlow

    The difference is that in Zootopia, (according to the article) the world will be based on the natural environment of animals.

    If you look at the environment designs of movies like Kung Fu Panda or Disney’s Robin Hood, you’ll see that the worlds there are no different than our human world. The architecture and how the world works don’t really reflect on the fact that it is a civilization of animals.

    • SethBlizzard

      I think so too, that it’s the idea of the presentation that’s the biggest innovation. Besides, anthropomorphic animals is one of the oldest storytelling tropes, and one that’s ripe for animated movies, so that’s what I think will make this movie.

  • Rae

    They have so much potential with the backgrounds and props with this idea, oh man, I hope they pull through, this could have some fantastic art direction.
    And I JUST GOT why there are so many rabbits.

  • Jen Hurler

    I always wonder about fundamental things in these kinds of universes: What do carnivores eat? What if two animals from different species fall in love? And I really dislike when anthropomorphic animals have pets. That’s just creepy to me!

    Regardless, I’m excited to learn more about his and see what sets it appart!

  • Matt Norcross

    I hope they use that “Meander” software for this project, I want it to be a hand-drawn/CGI hybrid like Paperman was.

  • JeanbearTheImmasculator

    Looks like Michael J. Fox? You are on drugs.

  • Sgt. Pepper

    Seriously though, can we please stop calling any story with clothed animals “furry”?

    • Chris Sobieniak

      I think it’s just that we’re so used to seeing cartoon animals that way we tend to think they’re all the same.

    • rodso64

      Ummm… it kinda is. “Furry” is short-hand for “anthropomorphic”, and “anthropomorphic” is defined as “non-human characters doing human things”. Like, speaking our language, or wearing clothes. Or building cities.

      I’ve been at this a while ^^

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    Also ‘Lethal Weapon’ too.

  • Andrew Kieswetter


  • Andrew Kieswetter

    I posted that because I would love to see Disney do something
    different when depicting anthromorphic bears. Make some of them barrel-chested hunks for once as opposed to overweight clowns most of the time.

  • Andrew Kieswetter

    I would love it if there’s a romance between Nick Wilde and Judy Hops. I’m a
    sucker for interspieces relationships in animation.

  • IJK

    They did explore that concept.

    In the realm of Hollywood.

    Just because it’s not what you wanted doesn’t mean they didn’t explore it.

  • John David Douglas Marshall

    Every single one of those movies you mentioned were released before Dreamworks even existed (besides Winnie the Pooh, but there were other Winnie movies in the ’70s). I’ll do my research when you figure out how time works.

    Also, double-point, every movie you have indicated is an adaptation of stories which already featured anthropomorphic animals (with the exception of Oliver and Company), so they were kind of led by the source material. Disney is now making cheesy original stories, like Dreamworks. My argument stands.

  • akira

    i hope mickey and minnie live in rodentia with all the “vermin”

  • MB

    Looks like a Black Sad rip off to me.

  • Barrett

    For once, I’m not going to be heartbroken if Disney changes the title of the film before release. I still think “Rapunzel Unbraided” or just “Rapunzel” and “The Snow Queen” are way cooler and more descriptive names than ‘Tangled” or “Frozen.”

  • Zoe Leandra

    A world where humans never existed? Why not something where Humans and Animals are equal?
    But build by animals…i hope it comes up with something nice in design. Lets hope its original!

  • Happy

    I am quiet happy they are doing this movie, it had been a long time any kind of purely cartoon funny animal stuff had been made.

  • Joshua M. Hartzler

    After reading a little of the plot it sounds very interesting to watch.
    However the thing we Disney Fans are hoping is that this film will become a hand drawn animated movie just like “Robin Hood.”
    It would be a good feeling to see Zootopia in hand drawn animated movie because some us are getting tired of seeing the same computer animated movies.