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How Zootopia Fits Into the Disney Legacy, According to the Animation Studio President
Well, it’s a new year (almost) and what better way to celebrate than with a brand new trailer for Walt Disney Animation Studios’ upcoming animated feature
This trailer gives you the most detailed look at the film’s story and characters, thus far, focusing not only on the mismatched duo of bunny cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) and rascally fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), but on the central mystery of a missing otter, and on the wide assortment of colorful characters that they meet along the way. (And it’s all set to Shakira’s soaring, Sia-penned “Try Everything.”) We love this movie and this trailer couldn’t be a better representation of the heartfelt fun awaiting audiences this spring.
A few months ago we were able to talk to Andrew Millstein, the president of Walt Disney Animation Studios, about where Zootopia fits into the studio’s legacy of classic animated films, why it’s so important to tell contemporary stories, and why it was fun to tap into the buddy cop genre.
fit into the legacy of Walt Disney Animation Studios?
fits in is that it pushes the expectation of what a Disney animated film is, which is what we like to do. If you look at our recent films, from
, there’s a real depth and breadth to the types of stories that we’re telling. And
will once again stretch that expectation. It’s consistent with our other films—it’s got tremendous characters, an awesome world, great relationships, it’s very surprising and comedic. And there’s huge heart. It has all those things in common but it’s also about something very contemporary and relevant and I think it will resonate very well.
How important is it to keep telling these contemporary stories?
It’s incredibly important because we have to be a studio where our filmmakers can tell the types of stories that interest them. And not all filmmakers are cut from the same cloth. They all want to tell great stories but they all have different types of stories they want to express. So we can’t make the same type of story over and over again. That’ll dampen the expectations of our audience. I would argue that on a film like
, which is a classic fairy tale, but the reason it played so well was that it was an incredibly universal and relevant modern story.
A scene we previewed today is different from the version you screened at D23 Expo earlier this year. Can you talk about that process?
It’s the only way we know how to function. We have to be constantly willing to experiment and throw away things that aren’t working. It’s the only way to get to something excellent. You have to be willing to change and pivot and experiment. It’s that constant churn that allows you to get to something that we hope will be a classic film in the Disney canon.
The movie is a kind of buddy cop comedy. Was it fun to play in that genre?
Absolutely. I think that is one of the things that our filmmakers love: they love to be challenged. You have a buddy caper comedy, with these opposite characters working together, and it was about having to balance out all of these things in a compelling way. People love to feel out the story math of that.
Can you talk about creating an environment that filmmakers want to return to?
I think the fact that people want to hang their hat here and stay vibrant and creative talks a lot about the trust they have in the organization. If people feel like they can trust the place they work, then you’re going to get the most creativity from people. These are people who are getting to satisfy their deep creative yearning here. And that’s what we try to do.
Tagged as: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Zootopia (2015)
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