With the upcoming animated feature Zootopia, the folks at Walt Disney Animation Pictures have built a giant and diverse world filled with all kinds of anthropomorphic animals. Tundra Land is for those who like it super cold; Sahara Square is for those who like it super hot; the Rainforest District is for those who like their trees high and the air humid; and Little Rodentia is for those who need their infrastructures to be a bit smaller in scale. It’s a jam packed world that the lead characters will traverse to solve a mystery, but one side effect of this is that the production wasn’t able to utilize three other fantastic ideas they had during the making of the movie.
Late last year, I had the wonderful opportunity to do a behind-the-scenes tour of the Zootopia production offices, and it was while sitting down two-on-one with directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore that I learned about three amazing locations that the movie almost included, but ultimately got cut. I directly asked if there were any thoughts that the filmmakers had to table in the making of the movie, and Howard explained that there were a number of concepts that they had to drop:
There was an area called Outback Island. Outback Island kept coming in and out of the movie, in one version. It popped in and popped out and there’s another area called The Meadowlands, which is all about sheep, kind of up in the moors and stuff. And there was another area called the Nocturnal District, which we never had the story point for, but I always thought it would be cool to go underneath the city.
Going by those names and Byron Howard’s descriptions, one can pretty easily figure out how these different districts/boroughs would have fit into the larger Zootopia world. Outback Island would have surely been a lot like Australia and been a home for marsupials and Koala Bears and the like. It sounds like the Meadowlands could have been a nice farming community; and presumably the Nocturnal District would introduce moles, prairie dogs, badgers, and chipmunks. All three of these places are locations packed with potential and begging to be explored, which is perhaps why they ended up on the cutting room floor, as the filmmakers felt they didn’t have time to feature them in the movie.
The good news is that there is still a chance that we might see Outback Island, The Meadowlands and the Nocturnal District on the big screen someday. In my same conversation with Byron Howard and Rich Moore, they also explained that they were doing so much world-building in Zootopia that the idea of doing a sequel is very real. So if the film is successful, it’s entirely possible that we could see all three of these missing locations in Zootopia 2.
In Zootopia, a young bunny named Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) makes her way to the titular big city, and while trying to prove herself as a police officer, finds herself caught up in a missing person's case. The only problem is that her key witness and de facto partner is Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a con artist fox who really only ever looks out for number one. Stay tuned for more about Disney’s latest animated adventure, and look for the film in theaters on March 4th.