I'm telling you something right now: Disney's ZOOTOPIA is about to be HUGE. Over the past few months, I've been fairly ZOOTOPIA-immersed (they made me an official resident), having once again paid a visit to Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank where I met with Directors Byron Howard (BOLT, TANGLED) and Rich Moore (WRECK-IT RALPH), along with Producer Clark Spencer (WINNIE THE POOH) and much of the key creative team for an inside look at the studio's 55th feature-length animated film. Last week, my wife and I also treated The Rock Daughters to an early screening of the film, and in the days that followed, something remarkable happened... they declared it "Better than FROZEN," with our oldest deeming it her "favorite film so-far," and already noting that when she does her back-to-school chalkboard in the Fall, ZOOTOPIA will replace FROZEN as her film of choice. The kids have spoken, and that's all I need. While ZOOTOPIA by itself is a very special film (and one I will review in detail later), in Chicago's far North Suburbs, just minutes from Rock Father HQ is a very special place to see it - the Marcus Gurnee Cinema at Gurnee Mills. This theatre is home to one of just two 4DX theaters in the United States (the other is in L.A.), and to celebrate a one-week special engagement of ZOOTOPIA 4DX, the folks at CJ 4DX have teamed-up with THE ROCK FATHER Magazine for a very special Prize Pack Giveaway. The trick is, this one is limited to readers in Illinois and Wisconsin... folks within the region of the Marcus Gurnee Cinema and their 4DX screen! Learn about 4DX and enter to win below!
When it comes to Disney reissues, the era of high-definition and digital formats has accelerated, and perhaps begun to eliminate the famed "from the vaults" emergence from moratorium (and return to it) that signified much of the VHS era. Like so many other Disney fans, there's certain movies that we've purchased time and time again, either upgrading formats or simply seeking out a new edition. When it comes to 1937's SNOW WHITE and the SEVEN DWARFS, there's no more appropriate film to kick-off a new collection, as it's truly Walt Disney's first masterpiece - the one that started a legacy that continues this year with the release of ZOOTOPIA, the 55th animated feature from Walt Disney Animation Studios. Snow White was the first, and after owning it on VHS and later both Platinum (DVD) and Diamond Edition (Blu-ray + DVD) sets, we now own The Walt Disney Signature Collection release, a Blu-ray + DVD Combo Pack that also ushers-in its first-ever Digital HD appearance.
For Walt Disney Animation Studios' ZOOTOPIA, there was an entirely new set of challenges created by the sheer size and scope of the film. In fact, nothing about ZOOTOPIA was "business as usual," because unlike other "talking animal" movies that we've seen in the past, this film was done with great attention to both detail and scale. When I met with the filmmakers, there was a lot of talk about how the city itself had to be able to accommodate different sizes of animals (like a subway that serves mice and elephants), as well as consideration given to how different species would move, should they begin walking upright on two legs. With so many elements at play, Art Director of Characters (and fellow MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE enthusiast) Cory Loftis, and a team of animators had to design over 1,000 unique characters, and during a visit to Disney Animation's temporary campus, he took our press group through a little bit of the process... and gave us a lesson in drawing the Ginnifer Goodwin-voiced Judy Hopps.
In a warehouse in North Hollywood, something interesting has been happening. There, behind the bland and unassuming exterior, Walt Disney Animation Studios has sprung to life in a temporary location that once housed the Disney Imagineering department - the result of a massive renovation taking place at the famed Roy E. Disney Animation Building in Burbank. Within the largely open space, work continued through late January on ZOOTOPIA, the 55th feature from the studio, and one that's been gaining fans well before release - due in large part to a slow-moving sloth with a really big smile. After meeting with Directors Byron Howard (BOLT, TANGLED) and Rich Moore (WRECK-IT RALPH), along with Producer Clark Spencer (WINNIE THE POOH) for a sneak-preview over at the Disney Studios lot, I was invited to take a closer look at the development of the film with some of the key players behind-the-scenes.
Last month, when I met with the filmmakers behind Walt Disney Animation Studios' ZOOTOPIA, one thing we spoke about that didn't make my formal feature was the music of SHAKIRA. "For the role of Gazelle, Zootopia’s most beloved superstar, there was only one person on our wish list: Shakira," said Director Byron Howard. "Luckily for us, she said yes. Her immense talent and charm bring Gazelle and her song, ‘Try Everything,’ to life.” Today, SHAKIRA's "Try Everything" is available as a digital single ahead of the March 4th release of both the film, and it's original soundtrack. Check out an introduction by SHAKIRA below!
Over the past few years, I've been fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet with the filmmakers behind Walt Disney Animation Studios' back-to-back Academy Award winners, FROZEN and BIG HERO 6. Last month, on a visit to the Walt Disney Studios lot, I settled into a screening room to take an early look behind the curtain at what's next - ZOOTOPIA, the 55th animated feature from the studio, carrying on a legacy that began with SNOW WHITE AND THE SEVEN DWARFS back in 1937. As the studios move forward, the creative forces behind each film remain mindful of where their lineage lies, and with that in mind, Directors Byron Howard (BOLT, TANGLED) and Rich Moore (WRECK-IT RALPH), along with Producer Clark Spencer (WINNIE THE POOH), rolled a short look back at some memorable moments from the past history of Disney Animation, just prior to walking us through the genesis of ZOOTOPIA.