Directors Rich Moore and Byron Howard open up about the making of Disney’s Zootropolis
After wowing critics and grossing over a billion dollars at the box office Disney’s animated adventure Zootropolis comes to DVD on Monday (July 25th).
Featuring the voices of Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, Idris Elba, Jenny Slate, Nate Torrence, Tommy Chong, J. K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Alan Tudyk and Shakira (who also supplies the movie’s theme ‘Try Everything’), the movie is set in a city entirely populated by animals.
In this city Judy Hopps is about to become the city’s first rabbit cop, but she soon finds her career is in jeopardy, a move which forces her to team up with Nick, a cynical fox who makes his living as a con artist.
To find out all about the movie’s length production, hanging out with slots and lions for research and their plans for a sequel, we spoke to the movie’s directors Rich Moore and Byron Howard…
How pleased have you been with the reaction?
Rich: “It’s been incredibly pleasing. As an artist on this kind of film you spend years in a bubble working with no one but each other and the outside world doesn’t come in much. So to have the film come out and have it be so warmly embraced has been so humbling. We fell in love with this world and these characters and it’s great other people like going there too.”
Byron: “Our heads are still spinning a bit. We work on these movies for such a long time, in this case it was five years from pitch to film and you never know if it will connect with people. We went all over the world with this film and it seemed to be the same everywhere, people loved it and it was so humbling. It’s a living thing now, it’s beyond us.”
How did you get involved in the film? Was it a long process?
Rich: “About five years ago. Byron had just finished Tangled and he was looking for his next project. He loved the talking animals in Disney movies, the original Robin Hood and Jungle Book and it seemed like it had been a really long time since our studio had done one of those. John Lassiter, our boss, is also a huge fan of those and he’d been looking for a way to start a new one. I was involved, initially, as just part of the story trust we have here."
How did you find co-directing? You’ve both worked separately before...
Rich: “I enjoyed it a lot. When I came on it was very exciting, it needed to be completed quickly and work with a new version of the story, so I don’t think I’d have been able to do it as a sole director, it wouldn’t be the film you see now.”
Byron: “Animated films are such huge beasts and all directors have different skills so I love co-directing. I did it with Bolt and Tangled and I really enjoyed working with Rich. He’s got a great sense of humour, he came in from The Simpsons to direct Wreck-It Ralph and he’s been a great part of the story trust. There's so much of both of us in this movie.”
It’s a great voice cast, how did you go about putting it together?
Rich: “They were all people Byron and I wanted and I think we pretty much got everyone we asked for. We choose Jason and Ginnie because there’s so much of them both in these characters, it fitted their personality perfectly.”
Byron: “We got so lucky. We had a wish list for every character and I think we got our Number One choice every time. Jason and Ginnie are such huge Disney fans and they were so excited to do it.”
How did you get Shakira?
Byron “I remember pitching the movie to her. We had this great meeting and she was very polite and as we all got up to leave she said ‘It sounds wonderful I hope you’ll consider me’ and we were like ‘There’s no one else we want, it’s yours’ and she was like ‘Great, I’m in’. Easiest casting I’ve ever done.”
How did you decide which animals you’d include? There are so many to choose from...
Rich: “We kept to mammals because they’re the easier to distinguish between predators and prey and that’s a big theme of the movie. If you look at fish or birds or reptiles it’s a lot harder. But we wanted to make sure we had lots of exotic animals and we had a tonne of research on how these animals behave and how they react, down to how their fur moves when they’re scared or happy, just to get the detail right.”
Byron: “They sent us to Africa to do research and see how animals moved and their worlds. We saw lions, zebras and tigers up close and came back with so much material. Getting the sloth took some time, we got introduced to a sloth named Lola and the animators spent quite a lot of time with her, making sure we got how the sloths move right.”
Finally, the film did pretty well at the box office, will we be getting a sequel?
Rich: “It’s a little early for that. We’ve talked about it and those of us who worked on the film can’t help but come up with ideas. We invented this world and we’re kicking around ideas, but nothing official has been said. Personally though I think it’d be great to explore that world again.”
Byron: “Definitely. Some movies are buttoned up at the end, but from the get go this begged for more. It’s a massive world, massive city and I’m excited to find out what happens. There’s so much we couldn’t fit into the movie and there’s so much we’d like to explore. I’d be all for it, but nothing’s happening yet.”