There’s no denying it, Disney Animation Studios is on a roll right now. Starting with 2012’s Wreck-It Ralph, the studio—living somewhat in the shadow of Disney’s Pixar—began an impressive run through mega-hit Frozen, sizeable hit Big Hero 6, and now another mega-hit with Zootopia. Each film received critical acclaim, and while Zootopia had pedigree in the form of Wreck-It Ralph director Rich Moore and Tangled helmer Byron Howard, it seemed so pedestrian from an outsider’s point of view. A movie about talking animals? Really? Hasn’t Disney done enough of those? But once folks finally saw the movie, its brilliance was laid bare, as Disney Animation Studios not only crafted one of its funniest and most entertaining films in recent memory, but it tackled bold subject matter, essentially standing as a feature-length parable about institutionalized racism.
But as those who follow the ins and outs of animated filmmaking know, it is a long and arduous process full of terrible idea after terrible idea before the filmmakers finally hit upon the nuggets that result in the film that gets released. Sister studio Pixar has never shied away from the fact that most of its movies are broken down and built back up over and over again, and Walt Disney Animation Studios is no different.
So what was the process of making Zootopia like? How did it change along the way, and how different was the initial story idea from the final product? Those answers and more are provided in a fantastic 45-minute making-of documentary called Imagining Zootopia, which takes a deep dive into how the film came to be. The folks at Fusion spent a full two years with the production team of the Disney pic, and the result is this documentary that you will definitely find worthwhile if you’re at all interested in the moviemaking process.