‘Zootopia’ Directors Byron Howard & Rich Moore on Creating the Biggest Animated Film of the Year

     June 7, 2016

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One of the best films of 2016, and truly one of the best buddy cop comedies ever made, Walt Disney Animation Studios’ animated feature Zootopia has earned over $1 billion worldwide since its theatrical release. Not only did the world fall in love with rookie rabbit police officer Judy Hopps (voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin) and scam artist fox Nick Wilde (voiced by Jason Bateman), but they also couldn’t get enough of the wonderfully innovative animal metropolis in which they live.

With the movie arriving on Blu-ray/DVD, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere on June 7th, Collider got a few minutes to chat with Zootopia co-directors Rich Moore and Byron Howard. During this exclusive interview, held at DisneyToon Studios, the filmmakers talked about the monster success of the film, hearing from fans on Twitter, identifying with the desire to want to see a movie over and over again, that there’s still so much of this world that’s left to explore, and which supporting characters they’d like to learn more about.

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Image via Disney

Collider:  This film was a monster success. It was the best animated film this year, and it’s one of the best films of the year, in general. In your wildest dreams, prior to release, what was the worldwide box office you were hoping to get to versus what it actually turned out to be?


RICH MOORE:  I don’t know. Not this. This is a boon. This is just, “Oh, my god!” To me, I just take it as people loved the characters and the world. As an artist, it feels good that we’ve created something that is connecting with the audience, which is what we always strive to do. The box office numbers just helps for down the line for our studio, or if there’s other adventures in this world. I’m just blown away by it. I’m still trying to process it.

BYRON HOWARD:  It’s such a huge number. When you hear that it’s getting close to a billion, it just means that a lot of people saw the movie. If I say that I was one of the directors on Zootopia, people know it. They say, “Oh, I saw that!” I can talk to a lot of people in public, and they or someone in their family has seen it. It was this weird word that we made up that now is a thing that exists, from now on. People understand what it is and they understand the idea behind it. It’s a place that didn’t exist before, and now it exists. The fact that it was a cooperative creative process between us and our great crew, we’re so lucky to be here, at this time. The people around us are at the top of their craft, and we benefit from that. Their artistry just pours into the film and they care so much about it. Every film is just so good. Hopefully, we’re doing our job to give them good stories to tell. It’s great. Even the fact that Rich and I are on social media, people write to us and say, “I’ve seen the movie,” and it’s three times or five times or 10 times.  

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Image via Disney

MOORE:  Or 20 times. People will send a photo of all of their ticket stubs. They love it! When Star Wars came out, Byron and I went to see that movie multiple times, back when it was in theaters. So, when I hear people saying that, we know how it feels to keep seeing the movie and soaking it in. There’s a high that you get from it, and I get that mania of going to see something, over and over again.

People love these characters and this world. Have you thought about developing another film in this world, but that maybe doesn’t focus on the same characters?

HOWARD:  There are so many ways you could go. It’s interesting to see, especially with Disney, once you finish one of these films, if it does land in a big way, it becomes so much bigger than us. It takes on a life of its own. A nice thing about being at Disney is that these movies can develop into a presence in theme parks and become something real, or maybe get a sequel, or tell other stories. The film is only 90 minutes long, and we only could fit so much in the film. There were so many environments we talked about, and animals we talked about. The fact that there are no reptiles or birds in the film was something we talked about.

MOORE:  That bugs some fans. They really want to know about that. They’re like, “Where are the frogs, man?!” And, “What is Bogo’s first name?” Or, “Does it naturally rain in Zootopia? I need to know if it rains or snows, naturally!” I guess it rains. I don’t know. They really care, and that just means that they embraced it so much that they want to know everything they can about it. They just love the world. So, it would be nice to revisit it again.


zootopia-judyWhich character that we only got a glimpse of would you like to see more story for, whether for a full-length feature or a short?

HOWARD:  I’m particularly fond of Clawhauser. He’s funny. Nate Torrence, the guy who performs him, has such a richness. We have so many hours of him being hilarious and fun. If it was affordable to do a TV show that was the same quality as the movie, I would watch The Clawhauser Show, every week. I’d want to see what that dude got into. I could imagine that. I wish the technology was there. We would totally do that.

MOORE:  Or you could do an Orange is the New Black for Bellwether. That would be so cool. What is she doing now? Is she running the place? Did she become the Queen Bee? Is she Crazy Eyes? That would be so great. It would be great, if there was another story where Judy has to go to Bellwether like Hannibal Lector. There’s just so much you could do.

Personally, I would love to see more of the sloths, but if you did a TV show with them, it would take an entire season for one thing to happen.

HOWARD:  It would be like Game of Thrones! You’d be like, “Come on! Let something happen, please!”

Zootopia is now available on Blu-ray/DVD, Digital HD and Disney Movies Anywhere.

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