'Zootopia' directors on finding their story, late in the game
Production was well under way on Disney's Zootopia when directors Rich Moore and Byron Howard concluded the film needed a major do-over. Breaking the news to animators was not easy. But the move paid off, and Zootopia is now Oscar-nominated for best animated feature.
Zootopia directors and Oscar nominees Byron Howard and Rich Moore are part of the self-described “old guard” of animation. They both started in the field more than 25 years ago, back when everything was still drawn by hand. Howard and Moore tell us about the transition to computer animation, and the real-world events that made them want to address topics like subtle bias in a kids movie, even if that meant making major changes after years of development.
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Directors and veteran animators Byron Howard and Rich Moore tell us they're part of the "old guard" of animation. They both started animating more than 25 years ago and experienced the transition from hand drawn to computer animation first hand. It's not surprising then, that their newest film Zootopia uses CG, but some elements -- like talking animals who wear clothes -- are reminiscent of old school Disney cartoons like Robin Hood.
Zootopia tells the story of big-eyed bunny Judy Hopps, who is voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin. Judy leaves her quiet home on the carrot farm for the booming city, where diverse species coexist in an uneasy peace. Judy is thrilled to be Zootopia's first rabbit cop, but her optimism is dashed when she's assigned to write parking tickets. Then she encounters a smooth-talking con -- a fox named Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman -- who tells her she'll never succeed. They end up forming an unlikely duo to take on a mysterious case of disappearing mammals, and learning some uncomfortable truths about their city and themselves along the way.
But that wasn't always the story. Initially, Nick was the main character and Judy had a less substantial, supporting role. Howard and Moore tell us about the real-life events that inspired them to change things up and give the film a major do-over late in production. They also tell us about the difficulty of breaking the news to animators and voice actors. Even though it was tough, the move paid off; Zootopia is now Oscar-nominated for best animated feature.