With Pixar releasing two movies in 2015, Walt Disney Animation Studios is taking the year off from the big screen… but they will quickly be back in action in early 2016. This is when the brand new feature Zootopia is set to come out around the world, and from the look of the footage we saw this past Friday, it’s a movie for which we should all be very excited.
The upcoming animated film, directed by Byron Howard (Tangled) and Rich Moore (Wreck-It Ralph), is set in a fantastical world filled with a whole variety of anthropomorphic animals, and it took center stage this past Friday during the animation presentation at Disney’s biennial D23 Expo in Anaheim, California. The filmmakers, along with actress Ginnifer Goodwin and producer Clark Spencer, gave the convention center crowd an in-depth look at what to expect from Zootopia, and the presentation generated a great deal of laughter before it was over.
In the film, Goodwin voices Judy Hopps, a rabbit who had a soft upbringing living in the borough known as The Burrows, and is desperate to make it as a big city cop. Unfortunately, this is a job normally taken by much bigger animals, like rhinoceroses, so Judy is forced to be a meter maid. After one especially successful day of writing up tickets, she decides to reward herself with a bit of ice cream – and this was the launching point for the first footage that was shown.
The clip began in an ice cream parlor that is run for and primarily caters to elephants, with Judy standing in the back of a long line. She muses about the ridiculous portions – noting that "Junior" sizes are almost as big as she is – but she adds that it’s a good thing she eats like a horse (a line that happens to insult the horse patron who is standing right behind her). At the front of the line is a character whom we eventually learn is named Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman), a fox who is standing beside a very cute critter whom he identifies as his son.
Talking with the giant, surly elephant at the counter, Nick attempts to order a Jumbo Pop for his young son, but the clerk argues that the treat is way too big for the kid and will just wind up making a huge mess. Other people in line begin to complain, but that’s when the fox hits them all with a heartbreaking tale: his son thinks that he is an elephant, and even though every day is a battle, he "can’t break his heart and tell him that he can’t be an elephant." It’s at this cue that the young one by Nick’s side throws on an elephant mask and starts adorably honking through the fake trunk.
The frustrated clerk is touched by the story and asks for $15 dollars, and it’s at this point that Nick reveals that he forgot his wallet… at the orphanage where he just picked up his son. Judy perks up as she hears this second sob story, Nick saying that he made the best decision of his life 30 minutes ago, and that it’s the kid’s fourth birthday (the doctors said he’d never make it past three). The naïve Judy calls for the clerk to give the kid the Jumbo Pop for free, but when he refuses she offers to pay for the dessert herself. Nick thanks Judy and mentions that folks in The Burrows don’t usually trust foxes, but she is ever the optimist, leaning down to Nick’s kid and saying, "This is Zootopia, where you can be proud who you are, and anyone can be anything."
As you may have guessed by this point, Nick is actually a con artist, and while the clip ended at this point, director Rich Moore explained the fox’s ingenious plan for the aforementioned Jumbo Pop. After getting the treat for free, he travels to the desert-covered Sahara Square, and uses the heat to melt it. He then goes over to the ice-covered Tundra Town, where he uses the large amount of popsicle juice to create many smaller popsicles. He then travels to the Lemming Brothers Bank - because if he can sell to one of them, he can sell them all. The cherry on top of this diabolical plan, though, is that he takes all of the used sticks and sells them to the people of the small-scaled Little Rodentia as lumber. Needless to say, the guy knows how to hatch a scheme… but that wasn’t all we got to see from Zootopia!