Thanksgiving Box Office: Disney’s ‘Moana’ to Feast on Brad Pitt’s ‘Allied,’ ‘Bad Santa 2’

Disney has been drawing a lot of aces lately. From “Doctor Strange” to “Zootopia” to “Finding Dory,” the studio has amassed an impressive streak of blockbusters. “Moana,” its latest animated offering, will continue that hot hand.

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The adventure about a girl from the Pacific islands who journeys across the ocean with a demigod will be the de facto choice for families when it debuts over Thanksgiving. The film is expected to sail to the top of the holiday box office, earning $75 million over the five-day period. It will premiere in more than 3,800 theaters, the majority of which will offer 3D showings. Disney didn’t release a budget, but most of the studio’s animated films cost north of $150 million. “Moana” features the voice of Dwayne Johnson and music by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the creator of “Hamilton.”

The biggest competition for “Moana” will be the second week of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” the Harry Potter spinoff that debuted last weekend to a hefty $75 million. It could do nearly as much business over the holiday, but will attract a slightly older crowd given its PG-13 rating. Most box office watchers expect the fantasy film to pull in between $50 million to $60 million for the holiday stretch.

There’s not a lot of breathing room this Turkey Day, given that four wide releases will elbow their way into crowded multiplexes. The sheer onslaught of gaudy titles featuring the likes of Brad Pitt and Warren Beatty, to say nothing of the Disney and Potter fans who will be lured to the theaters, will boost revenues, but probably won’t be enough to establish a new record. The previous Thanksgiving holiday high point was set in 2013, as the combination of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire” and “Frozen” drove the box office to a massive $294.6 million over the five-day period.

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“That would be a tough number to beat,” said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. “There’s a great lineup of movies from a quality perspective, though I’m not sure we can post huge numbers like some of the bigger Thanksgiving weekends.”

In 2013, there were a lot more options for moviegoers with children. This Thanksgiving is more focused on adult ticket-buyers. For starters, there’s “Allied,” an R-rated spy thriller with Pitt and Marion Cotillard adding some sizzle as a husband and wife team of double-crossing agents. The $80 million production was directed by Robert Zemeckis, who could use a hit after his 3D drama “The Walk” flopped last year. It should pull in $20 million for the five-day period. Paramount will release the film across 3,000 locations.

Parents will also likely be steering their kids clear of “Bad Santa 2,” a follow-up to the 2003 cult hit about a sozzled department store Saint Nick. Billy Bob Thornton, who oozed whiskey and invective in the first film, returns as the title character with Kathy Bates taking on the role of his mother. Broad Green and Miramax teamed on the picture, which should make $16 million over the five-day holiday. The very raunchy comedy cost $26 million to make.

That leaves “Rules Don’t Apply,” a romantic drama that represents Beatty’s return to filmmaking after a hiatus of more than a decade. The love story about a two young people who fall in love while employed by eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes is being distributed by Fox. It has been a passion project of Beatty for nearly as long as he’s been in the business. However, tastes have changed since Beatty was making the likes of “Shampoo” and “Reds.” Star power isn’t what it once was and studios are more interested in backing superhero films than movie for grown-ups. To get the project off the ground, Beatty tapped a Rolodex of one-percenters that includes Brett Ratner, Steve Bing, and Steven Mnuchin, one of the rumored candidates to become treasury secretary under Donald Trump. Reviews have been mixed, but Beatty remains a Hollywood legend with a following. Look for “Rules Don’t Apply” to bring in $8 million over its first five days.

For Disney, the success of “Moana” puts the studio tantalizingly close to an industry record. The company has already achieved its best-ever year, and should pass the $6.89 billion high-water mark that Universal established in 2015 over the coming weeks. Not only does Disney have “Moana,” there’s a little film called “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” set to take the Christmas box office by storm. Thanksgiving will be a mere appetizer for the house of Mickey.

Disney’s Shanghai theme park opens with hopes pinned on Mickey and Minnie

Boasting the Magic Kingdom’s tallest fairytale castle and longest musical parade, Walt Disney’s Shanghai park is already its biggest overseas outpost. But even as gates open to the public this week, it is still building to keep customers keen.

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Disney’s largest overseas investment at US$5.5 billion, the park is a bet on China’s middle class and its booming domestic tourism. The US firm hopes it will offset an otherwise lacklustre international theme park business, better known for cash-burning sites such as Euro Disney.

Calling Shanghai Disney the firm’s greatest business opportunity since Walt Disney bought land in the central Florida in the 1960s, the company has been at pains to woo the home crowd in a country where competition from a plethora of local theme parks promises to be fierce.

Main Street has been replaced by Mickey Avenue to reduce the feel of Americana while attractions include a Chinese-style Wandering Moon tea house, a Chinese Zodiac-themed garden and a Tarzan musical featuring Chinese acrobats.

The park’s seven square kilometre plot of land means there is plenty of space to expand, the Disney chief executive Bob Iger said ahead of the official opening tomorrow.

“There is actually construction going on this week. When we open we will continue the construction to expand what’s on the opening day menu,” he said.

“We have plenty of space to do that and we believe we’ve got willing partners … We think we will probably do that sooner rather than later.”

Mr Iger, who scouted the Shanghai site in 1999, said China had incredible potential given its size. Disney estimates there are 330 million people within a three-hour radius of Shanghai, the country’s financial centre, who would be able to afford to come to the park.

Shanghai Disney could also help lure more consumers to its films. Zootopia, Captain America: Civil War, The Jungle Book and Star Wars: the Force Awakens are among the 10 most-watched movies in China of 2016, reaping more than $690 million in ticket sales, according to Box Office Mojo. Characters from those films will feature at the Shanghai resort.

Disney, though, is facing intense competition from billionaire developers building homegrown parks and from domestic cartoon characters. It also faces a deeply ambivalent attitude to its products in China.

On one hand, Mr Iger received a presidential welcome from Xi Jinping in May, and Disney has been granted “special” trademark protection. But China’s main military newspaper has also warned that Zootopia, a story about a rabbit police officer in an animal city, was a tool for spreading US propaganda and ideals.

Disney is also not set to reap all the rewards. The resort is a joint venture with state-owned Shendi Group, which has a 57 per cent stake – a concession agreed during lengthy negotiations.

Shendi is a consortium controlled by four large government-owned companies: Shanghai Media Group; hotelier Jin Jiang International, controlled by the city of Shanghai; the supermarket-to-department store operator Bailian Group; and the property developer Lujiazui Development Group.

‘CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR’ ECLIPSES ‘ZOOTOPIA’ ON BOX OFFICE! WILL ‘ZOOTOPIA 2’ COVER UP?

Captain America: Civil War” has done the impossible by breaking the record set by Disney’s “Zootopia in terms of Worldwide Box Office. The superhero flick has managed to surpass the overall collection of “Zootopia” within a few days of its worldwide release.

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OOTOPIA 2’ COVER UP?

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‘Captain America: Civil War’ Eclipses ‘Zootopia’ On Box Office! Will ‘Zootopia 2’ Cover Up?
“Captain America: Civil War” has done the impossible by breaking the record set by Disney’s “Zootopia” in terms of Worldwide Box Office. The superhero flick has managed to surpass the overall collection of “Zootopia” within a few days of its worldwide release.

This achievement has added yet another feather in Marvel Studios’ hat and has bagged another accolade for the production house. If the statistics revealed by Box Office Mojo is to be believed, this third Captain America installment has now broken another record by surpassing “Zootopia” for the number 1 spot on the global charts. “Civil War” has reportedly churned out $971.9 million on global box office.

On the contrary, “Zootopia” managed to make $971.3 million, thus, losing the trophy by a small margin to “Civil War.” With this, “Captian America: Civil War” is on its verge to become the first release of 2016 to cross the $1 billion mark, Screen Rant reported. In addition to this feat, the flick may also become the fourth one to taste this sweet success. The only other two flicks to achieve this are: “Avengers movies” and “Iron Man 3”.

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Considering the fact that “Civil War” is on a record breaking spree, it is surely set to become the phenomenal hit of the year. However, the popularity of “Zootopia” cannot be undermined in any circumstances. Disney’s “Zootopia” is the biggest film from the house and has been a bigger hit than its counterparts, including the successful “Big Hero 6.”

However, “Captain America: Civil War” is not the only superhero flick to impress in 2016. “Deadpool” and “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” are the other two films to cast a spell on the audience. While, “Deadpool” that released in February, became the largest R-rated film of all-time, according to Screen Rant. Zack Snyder’s “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” also managed to sail on the box office despite drawing some flack. “Deadpool” managed to rake in $762.4 million, even without 3D and a ban in China, and “Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice” earned $870.1 million in all.

FAN-MADE ZOOTOPIA WEBCOMIC TAKES THE STORY FURTHER

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Disney’s Zootopia is arguably the studios’ biggest animated hit since Frozen, and justifiably so — the film is wonderful, and although the term “instant classic” is thrown around rather loosely these days, Zootopia happens to be just that. The movie — which revolves around anthropomorphic animals living together in a giant metropolis — works on so many levels that you can fall in love with its characters and world for one reason if you’re five years old, and quite another reason if you’re thirty.

Now the movie’s fans are beginning to show their love for all things Zootopia. There’s already a Facebook community for Zootopians, where fans can post their own art and ponder whether or not Mr. Otterton was cheating on Mrs. Otterton at the animal nudist colony and other aspects of his double life (yes, really).

Of course, the timeless way some fandoms celebrate the thing they love can be found there, too… I’m talking about good old-fashioned fan fiction. One artist in Korea created a webcomic featuring main characters Judy the bunny and Nick the fox that serves as a kind of sequel to the events of the movie. Although I have to say, they took it in a decidedly darker direction than I think Disney ever would (and mind you, the actual Zootopia deals with some pretty adult themes already).

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Although the webcomic was originally written in Korean, thankfully another fan managed to translate the whole thing into English. You can see the entire English translation of the further adventures of Judy and Nick right here, or check it out in our gallery below. And by all means, if you haven’t seen Zootopia yet, what are you waiting for? Seriously, it’s that good. Go see it.

What do you Zootopia fans think of this webcomic? Is it a worthy successor till the inevitable Zootopia 2 hits theaters? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Kung Fu Panda 3:The biggest phothole ever

One of the other anticipated movies of 2016, which surprisingly didn’t fall under the “Superhero” category was the third installment of ‘the-ever-so-popular’ Kung Fu Panda Franchise.

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Though ‘Kung Fu Panda 3‘ was in the making right after the previous installment had hit the screens, but it is now that we finally get to watch it. I would start off by saying that I did enjoy it and it was thoroughly entertaining. Though it’s not quite in the ranks of it’s two predecessors, it does not disappoint.

Well we’re in an era, where it’s quite clear that animation movies are not necessarily only for “kidos”.

With the recent likes of ‘Frozen‘, ‘Inside Out’ and the quite recent ‘Zootopia‘, Disney has clearly shown that animation movies can completely be in the adult realm without actually having to lose it’s ‘kid-factor’.

The one fundamental component that these movies had in common and literally was the mainstay of these movies was it’s writing.

The writers’ carried out their job with such finese that the infamous term ‘plothole’ didn’t find any base.

But that’s not the case in ‘Kung Fu Panda 3‘!

I’m not sure if it was a result of lazy writing or the product of lack of determination, there was a huge plothole in ‘KFP 3′ that actually altered my whole peception. So here it is:

So quite in the beginning of the movie, after Po and his father’s reunion, Po’s father (Li) proudly states that he is coming from a secret Panda village, which quite obviously means that no damn person knows the whereabouts of the secret village.

Then eventually Li takes Po and Ping to the village, and Po himself didn’t know where the village was, so there was no possible way that Po could have said the whereabouts of the village to Tigress, and since there was no much words exchanged between Li and Tigress there was no way Tigress could have known where the village was.

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But after Kai attacks the Jade Palace, Tigress conveniently finds out The Secret Panda Village just in time to inform Po and the other Pandas’ that Kai was coming for them. This was not at all possible and was a result of extremely lazy writing. If Tigress would have not been able to find out the village then Kai would have easily dealt with the pandas’ and things would have turned out quite different, but this plothole conveniently works out in favour of the Pandas’.

This is simply one of the biggest plotholes I’ve ever seen in a movie.

But if you don’t mind this heck of a plothole and if you’re quite okay with an overly melodramatic climax, then you’ll surely love this movie.

Have you watched ‘Kung Fu Panda 3‘? What is your opinion about it?

5 Reasons Zootopia Is Still Making A Fortune At The Box Office

For the past three weekends, Disney’s Zootopia has ruled the box office roost, bringing in a surprising amount of moviegoers and box office dollars. Sure, it’s one of Disney’s best films in the past decade or so, but it’s safe to assume that nobody thought the story of a rabbit and a fox cracking down on crime would be such an off season juggernaut. Which asks the question of how exactly this came to be, a question that we intend to answer five times over. Here now are the five reasons we think Zootopia has been the apex predator of the cinematic food chain.

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There’s A Lack Of Competition For Family Box Office
If The Little Prince had maintained its March 18th release date, you might have seen a bit of competition standing against Disney’s Zootopia. But with no other children’s films to speak of, and the law of diminishing returns ravaging The Divergent Series: Allegiant’s opening weekend, Zootopia has had no problem dispatching of monsters, bumbling spies, and any other upstart that’s tried to take the crown. With a film like this guaranteeing at least double the ticket money, when factoring in one parent into the equation, Zootopia couldn’t help but be a hit. Though it helps that the adults are enamored with the film’s style as well.

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There’s Too Many Gags To Catch In One Viewing
You can’t write off Zootopia as strictly a children’s film, no matter how many times you try. Part of the reason that the film crosses over so well with adult audiences is the fact that the film has so many jokes to catch up with. Between the gags sprinkled in the dialogue, as well as the easter eggs and sight gags that are more accessible to everyone, there’s a lot to take in while laughing. So, of course, some intrepid viewers have probably seen Zootopia a good three or four times in order to catch something a friend of theirs noticed.

Did Disney’s marketing of “Zootopia” do justice to the film?

When a film makes over $70 million in an opening weekend, it is hard to argue that the marketing team behind a movie did a subpar job. In all fairness to Walt Disney Animation, the trailers and tactics used for this movie worked on a level, by creating a fun and seemingly harmless atmosphere around the film. This likely increased the level of interest in kids, or families with children, but the fact of the matter was, there had not been a movie targeted to children since “Kung Fu Panda 3” in January.

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However, the critical success of the film snuck up on many Disney fans, myself included. Among friends and other people I had talked to, most thought the movie was going to be “Dreamworks quality” or a return to the early 2000s for Disney. Some thought the ceiling for the movie, based solely on its marketing, was going to be more in line with “Bolt,” a film that is fun, but ultimately does not come up in conversations about great Disney movies.

After this week though, it is hard to argue that case anymore. With a Rotten Tomatoes score of 99%, a Metacritic score of 78%, and a $73.7 million opening weekend box office, the film is an unbelieveable success for Disney Animation. With “Moana” still on the horizon, it is hard to argue against the idea that Disney Animation is in Renaissance 2.0 mode, with “Wreck-It-Ralph,” “Tangled,” “Frozen,” and “Big Hero 6” representing a run in Disney history that stacks up against any decade in Disney history (and we’re only 6 years in).

Still, the subject matter of “Zootopia” and the genre choices were the most shocking about the film. With many thinking that the movie would be a simple “talking animals movie,” it instead mixed elements of mystery, crime comedy, and solid commentary on the current state of police activity. The film found a way to walk the tightrope between portraying police officers in a negative light, while maintaining that some bad apples do not create a broken system. Its mystery elements harkened back to “The Great Mouse Detective” and “The Rescuers,” but held onto comedy aspects one would expect to find in a film like “Ocean’s 11” or “The Big Lebowski.”

This is no doubt a very different film than we expected, and we have to place some of the blame on Disney. It’s possible they didn’t realize that their film would resonate so strongly with young adults or with the politically charged climate in America right now. Yet, the film that was sold to us lowered expectations to the point that many thought the film would be Disney Animation’s first misstep in its run. What we got were cute scenes of sloths, that ultimately had little to do with the film as a whole.

The problem that the marketing presents though, is that it tells audiences that unless Disney embraces the schtick of “The Minions” or low stakes animation stories, that audiences won’t show up. I think audiences are more grown up than that. If we knew it was a mystery/noir film with comedy, audiences still would have shown up. We would have loved to see a Disney that would lampoon itself, make pop culture jokes, and engage with the zeitgeist. These are the elements that will let this film endure, and some members of the audience were already saying this is their favorite Disney movie in years.

These aspects of the film will be what we remember, and the marketing campaign will fade away with time. Still, it would be nice for Disney to treat its audience with some respect, as opposed to going for the lowest common denominator to bring in audiences. Even though Disney has always been for kids, they don’t have to treat their entire audience like one.

Zootopia” is currently in theaters. It stars Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Tommy Chong, Shakira, and Alan Tudyk.

Disney’s ‘Zootopia’ is surprisingly tech-centric with references to ‘Zoogle’ and ‘Zuber’

Technology rules the animal kingdom in Disney’s “Zootopia.”

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The box office monster is the first movie we’ve seen from Disney Animation Studios that reflects the tech-centric world we live in today. Species of every genus are constantly on their phones, and characters rely on their digital devices to get work done.

Zootopia” stands out in its genre, however, for never making a big show of its tech. It exists as a background layer that supplements the plot, rather than driving it.

By comparison, “Wall-E” depicts humans like tubs of lard with eyes glued to their devices. (To its credit, the film raises environmental awareness and is super cute.) “Inside Out” just about skewers Silicon Valley. The dad in the movie runs a startup called “Brang” and wears the startup uniform — a logo t-shirt that says “What did you brang?”

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Zootopia,” alternatively, mimics the way tech functions for the rest of us. Here are the 9 references that made it into the movie.

Trailer Talk: ‘Zootopia’

Movie trailers are like free samples at Costco: the good ones excite you and leave you wanting more, while the bad ones make you cringe. Each week, A&E columnist Matthew Fernandez will dissect one movie trailer and analyze the Hollywood fare to come.

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Disney has a penchant for zany characters and a magic power to make the world fall in love with every single one of them. It’s given us an ice princess with an infuriatingly catchy song, a ham-handed building wrecker who jumps through video games and a pillowy healthcare robot that fights crime and gives fist bumps (“bah-la-la-la”), which begs the question: What will it think up next?

How about a rabbit traffic cop? Alright, I’ll take it.

Disney released the second U.S. trailer for its new movie “Zootopia” on New Year’s Eve, which revealed more about the upcoming film’s plot. The film takes place in a world of anthropomorphic animals that is suddenly plagued by an outbreak of rabid, mindless behavior from its citizens. Enter Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, the first rabbit police officer, eager but undervalued due to her small size and unimposing species in comparison to the tigers, rhinos and elephants on the force. In order to prove that she is a capable officer, Hopps decides to solve the case on her own.

The idea behind “Zootopia,” a city where carnivores and herbivores coexist peacefully, lends itself to interesting possibilities. In no way is it a new concept – “Dinotopia” and “Kung Fu Panda” are only two of many examples – but the potential for it to be a great movie lies in Disney’s characteristic imagination.

I’d like to see how Disney addresses some of the issues that the citizens of Zootopia would have, like what animals eat and how carnivores survive without becoming murderers. The trailer shows food like donuts and ice cream, but is that ice cream vegan or are they eating something that could have come out of a neighbor?

Like most of Disney’s recent movies, “Zootopia” seeks to cater to older audiences as well as children. Much like the movie’s first trailer, the New Year’s Eve trailer reuses a painfully accurate and clever joke in which the Department of Motor Vehicles is run by sloths. Most people, myself included, know the agonizing pit of despair that is the DMV, where the minutes crawl by with bureaucratic slowness.

Even though the gag was already shown in the first trailer, it’s like a Twinkie – it never gets old. I’ve seen both trailers multiple times and giggled like a 5-year-old every time.

There is also a quick jab at nudist colonies and the naturalist movement, but the best joke comes at the end of a trailer with a reference to “The Godfather,” complete with Marlon Brando drawl, tuxedo rose and daughter’s wedding.

As a cinephile and lover of pop culture, I replayed this part at least three times – “The Godfather” Easter egg was the trailer’s biggest treat for me. The attention to detail, loving treatment of an iconic character and witty unexpectedness of the reference hints at more great nuggets to come. This kind of pop culture awareness that caters to adults yet remains family-friendly is very promising, maybe even signaling a shift away from the more subtle, dirty jokes that are often hidden in other Disney films.

The trailer signals that the film has the most to offer in its visual gags. In a world of animals of all shapes and sizes, there is limitless comedic potential, and if the trailer is a good indication of the film to come, then this comedic gold mine has not escaped the eyes of the filmmakers. The considerations are demonstrated practically in the city’s infrastructure like different-sized doors on the train and in the film’s overall silliness – for example, a mouse’s car gets blown away by the wind, and the tiny shrew version of Don Corleone is named Mr. Big.

Based on what the audiences have been shown, the film seems to be standard Disney. There are cutesy characters, high-quality visuals and the big moral underpinning that aims to teach kids how to be good people. It looks to be a solid film, but with many big animal-centric animated films to be released this year, like “Kung Fu Panda 3” and “Finding Dory,” will “Zootopia” be able to stand out in the crowd? When stacked up against the competition, I think “Zootopia” has a good chance to rival the success of “Kung Fu Panda,” but might not be strong enough to contend with Pixar’s might.

How Disney Fixed a Huge Mistake With Zootopia, Just One Year Before Release

In November 2014, the team behind Disney’s Zootopia had a very bad day. After years of development and production, they realized a huge aspect of their movie didn’t work. There were two main characters, one primary and one secondary— and they had to be flipped for the film to make sense.

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In Zootopia, which hits theaters March 4, a young bunny named Judy Hopps leaves home for a job as a police officer in the big city of the title. There, she must team up with a con-man fox named Nick Wilde to solve a crime. Nick, voiced by Jason Bateman, is jaded, sarcastic, and believes everyone is exactly who they are. Judy, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin, is exactly the opposite. She’s cheery, optimistic and believes anyone can be whatever they want.

For years, Nick was the focus on the film, with Hopps playing a crucial, but secondary role. But on that fateful November day, a little over a year before the film’s release, director Byron Howard realized they had to make the switch.

“We’re telling a story about bias, and when you have the Nick character starting the movie, through his eyes the city was already broken,” Howard said. “He didn’t like Zootopia.”

Hopps, on the other hand, did. She loved it. And suddenly, everything became obvious.

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“We asked ‘What are we saying with the movie?’ If we’re telling this movie about bias—something that is everywhere and in all of us, whether we want to admit it or not—the character that’s going to help us tell that message is Judy, an innocent, [who comes] from a very supportive environment where she thinks everyone is beautiful, everyone gets along,” Howard said. “Then let Nick, this character who knows the truth about the world, bop up against her and they start to educate each other. When we flipped that, it was a major flip, but it worked so much better.”

In retrospect, the flip may seem like the most simple thing ever. Have the positive character be the main one. But the reason something like that doesn’t happen immediately is that movies like Zootopia happen in an insanely organic, fluid way. When the film was first pitched, for example, there wasn’t much more than the idea of talking animals living together in a city. There was no story, no characters, just an idea, followed by an approval, and then the research begins. The hope is, through this research process, a story is arrived at organically, which is what happened.

It started with looking at animals behaviors, futuristic ideas for cities, and then a trip to Africa lit up a figurative lightbulb. “We looked at this situation around the watering hole,” Howard said. “Predators and prey are behaving because they both need something, water, and everyone’s cool. They’re kind of looking at each other cautiously, but people are behaving. That’s very much like our city. People are different in cities, and they have to get together to live, and what does that mean?”

“Even when Nick was the main character, Hopps kept pushing through,” said head of editorial, Fabienne Rawley. “She’s the character she is. She just kept being the main character. And we kept saying that we wanted Nick to be the main character. And sort of because of that, forcing a round peg in a square hole sort of thing, she just came through. And finally we’re like, ‘Fine! Go do it.’ So then you start again.”

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For a normal person, changing and scrapping so much hard work would probably be seen as a huge defeat. But this is Disney and, according to the people there, everyone embraced it

“We knew it was going to be a lot of work, but immediately hearing the idea no one said like, ‘Oh no! I’ve got to keep this thing.’ It was very much the opposite,” said co-director Jared Bush. “It was ‘This is really exciting. This is going to help the movie immeasurably. We just need to execute it, and we’re running out of time to do it.’ But it’s an amazing opportunity to make this movie really special.”

In changing the movie, Howard, Bush, Rawley and others found that they were better able to incorporate the film’s message of inclusion and harmony, along with a satisfying story.

“We never wanted this to be a message movie,” said Howard. “We always wanted it to be this great piece of entertainment, great emotion, great storytelling, but it’s never, ever supposed to be in-your-face with the message of the movie. Just letting Judy learn that and seeing her progress grow and grow, it became sort of a personal story between the two of them and helped us in a huge way.”

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The other thing that helped in a huge way—especially when in executing such a major change—was adding Rich Moore as another director. When Zootopia was starting production, Moore was working on his own movie, Wreck-It Ralph, which was released in 2012. He then went to work on something we won’t see for several years, before his phone rang with the head of Disney Pictures, John Lasseter, asking him to come on board.

“When you’re in production for years, there are these kind of gear shifts that you can feel,” Moore said. “‘Okay, that’s ramping up. It’s going up another level.’ And [Zootopia] was just ready to go up another one. It was like jumping onto a fast-moving train.”

Moore’s main task at the beginning was helping Howard manage all the changes that switching lead characters from Nick to Judy meant for the movie as a whole, and Howard was happy for the help.

 

“It’s great to have partners on these films,” Howard said. “It’s great to have someone to do a gut check with.”

Oddly, while everyone making Zootopia has no problem balancing and checking each other, even when it becomes incredibly difficult, the president of Disney Animation Andrew Millstein claimed there’s one place they never ever look to make sure they’re on the right track.

“Well, we really don’t follow the competition all that much,” Millstein said. “When Byron and Jared wanted to make this film, talking animals in an animal world, we didn’t say, ‘Oh, Blue Sky is making that, Illumination is making one.’ There are so many ways to tell a talking-animal story, and what better challenge is there to differentiate yourself from whatever anybody else is making? So our standard is really a self-referential standard, cause we want to make it great. And let the chips fall where they may.”