Disney Animation’s “Zootopia” came out back in 2016, and is still among the most popular Disney animated films to date. Now six years later, the studio is now able to revisit the fabled animal city with a new series for Disney+.
Like most other Disney+ series, much of the impetus in creating the show was because there was another platform for the studio to tell its stories. “It’s not something we take lightly,” said Disney Animation animator Trent Correy. “That’s why when we pitch and get selected, it’s because the story is fully there,” he continued.
Correy did pitch the show amongst other ideas in an open pitch session that the studio has for every one of its employees. His Zootopia idea caught the attention of studio leadership and eventually got greenlit. “I loved Zootopia even not having worked on it. I knew there were so many great stories from that world that needed to be told,” Correy said.
One of the studio’s story artists, Josie Trinidad, was also the writer of the original film. She heard about Correy’s idea moving forward and wanted to jump aboard and help. “What I loved about Trent’s idea is that they were new stories that were woven into the original movie. I thought that was so creative!”, said Trinidad.
The show essentially hones in on specific characters, both new and existing, that existed in the city of Zootopia and where their stories blend in with scenes from the original film and story arcs of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde. To determine which characters would be chosen to be featured in the limited six-part series, Correy and Trinidad connected with the crew early on to ask them about their favorite characters from the city that they’d like to work on. “You can bet that Flash the Sloth from the DMV will make another appearance,” Correy said. “That was basically a favorite amongst everyone we had asked.”
The show was one of the projects in Disney Animation’s COVID production pipeline since it was made when health restrictions were still in place. However, it was the challenge of creating these short stories combined with the production challenges that were a respite for the cast and crew. “Our north star every day was how do we make something that would make our crew smile,” said Correy. “I think by keeping that attitude in creating, we were able to create something very special,” he said.