The focus of Disney’s Zootopia is the unlikely pairing of rabbit police officer Judy Hopps and fox con man Nick Wilde. As different as the two characters are, by the end of the film they have become incredibly close. It turns out, an early version of the film included a scene that joked with the idea of the two being more than simply friends. As part of the film’s Blu-Ray release, we can now get an idea of what that would have looked like. For obvious reasons, this relationship status would have to be listed as complicated.
It’s not entirely clear where in Zootopia this scene would have fallen. It obviously would have been early, as the pair are still working on the missing mammal case together, but they’ve been doing it long enough that Judy considers Nick a friend, although based on the storyboard the word is a surprise to Nick. There’s some quality material here that would have been great to have in the film. There’s Judy’s callback to the "red wood" bit with her reference to "safe house" which is great because it makes the second time she’s thrown his material back at him. We also get to spend more time with Judy’s family, which would have been good. In the final film, mom and dad Hopps go from distrusting predators, especially foxes, at the beginning of the film, to trusting them at the end, without much influence from Judy in between. This scene helps to show that evolution a little better. Here, Judy isn’t just telling her parents to trust predators more, she’s showing them that she actually does it herself. It supports their character changes at the end of the movie.

As to why the scene was removed, we don’t really know that either. As it was never fully animated, it was obviously scrapped early. It may be that the reason it’s hard to pinpoint its place in the story is that the story actually changed and the scene no longer worked. We do know that the story of Zootopia saw some pretty major changes over time. It’s also true that the scene isn’t strictly necessary to the plot, and run time is always a concern, especially in a family movie where little kids are often involved.

Finally, there’s the fact that the scene does potentially open up a can of worms that the filmmakers may have realized they didn’t want to get into. The question of whether Nick Wilde is Judy Hopps’ boyfriend from her father is funny, but it then causes the audience to wonder about such things as interspecies relationships within Zootopia. How does that work? While Zootopia deals with some potentially heavy themes, that might have been a little too much for them. It also may have put a more romantic subtext to the "you know you love me" interaction the two have at the end of the film. In the final version of the movie, it comes across as one friend teasing another, but if the "boyfriend" seed gets planted earlier, then that line might sound much different later.

Zootopia is now out on Blu-Ray and DVD and contains several more deleted scenes, as well as a rundown of the film’s extensive collection of Disney easter eggs.

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