D23 Expo attendees got to see two shorts from the upcoming Walt Disney Animation Studios series Zootopia+, one of which debuted at Annecy and the other presented for the very first time outside of the studio. Hosted by directors Trent Correy and Josie Trinidad, the two artists started with a brief overview of their careers at Disney Animation so far before diving into the Disney+ series, which debuts on November 9th. Josie Trinidad served as the Co-Head of Story on Zootopia, drawing inspiration from her time studying abroad for the sequence called “Homesick Hopps,” in which Judy Hopps first arrives at her apartment in Zootopia and is missing her family. Trent Correy was an animator on that project, focusing on the sequence in which Flash the sloth meets his love interest, Priscilla.
Zootopia+ is the brainchild of Trent Correy, who pitched the project during an open pitch meeting for content for Disney+. Having directed the short “Drop” through the Short Circuit program, Trent was well-prepared to tackle Once Upon a Snowman (original title: “Olaf Picks His Nose”), which reunited him with the character he was an animation supervisor on. But to take on a series of shorts, he was going to need a little help. He hadn’t officially met Josie Trinidad yet, since the studio is so big, but he was a fan of her work and thought she would be perfect for the role, considering how involved she was with Zootopia.
The original pitch for Zootopia+ was 10 shorts, all of which were set during a different moment of the film Zootopia, intersecting with key story moments. While the concept was whittled down to 6 shorts, a magic number for Disney+ short-form content, the rest of it has remained the same. Adding to the complexity, each short also tackles a different style of film, which required a different approach to the cinematography of each story. We were treated to a broad overview of each short in the series.
Hopp on Board
- Genre: Action
- Premise: Bonnie and Stu Hopps watch their daughter Judy board her train to Zootopia, but are horrified to discover that their youngest daughter Molly has stowed away on board. Jumping into action, they set off on a daring train chase to try and get their baby back.
Real Rodents of Little Rodentia
- Genre: Reality
- Premise: Fru Fru is getting married and cameras are present to capture every bridezilla moment.
- Fun Fact: The short is inspired by the film Married to the Mob and was composed to look like it was shot with handheld cameras.
Duke: The Musical
- Genre: Musial
- Premise: Duke Weaselton has just been released from prison and rather than going straight, he’s scheming up his next heist… in song!
- Fun Fact: This short was originally conceived as an Oceans 11-inspired heist story, but shifted to a musical sequence ala “Friend Like Me” from Aladdin.
Godfather of the Bride
- Genre: Gangster
- Premise: On this, the day of his daughter’s wedding, Mr. Big recounts his origin story when he was just Mr. Small.
- Fun Fact: The style of this short is inspired by film noir classics.
So You Think You Can Prance
- Genre: Talent Competition
- Premise: Gazelle is in search of a new backup dancer and Zootopia gets to vote in this televised competition series, featuring Officer Clawhouser as a contestant.
- Genre: Romantic Comedy
- Premise: Flash and Priscilla go out to eat on their first date, much to the dismay of the restaurant’s wait staff.
- Fun Fact: This short was originally pitched as a nature documentary with a narrator like David Attenborough, but shifted to a romantic comedy when Trent and Josie realized they shared a favorite film in this genre – When Harry Met Sally.
After screening “Hopp on Board” and “Godfather of the Bride,” we got to learn a little more about the series during an audience Q&A. Animation was completed during downtime between production on Raya and the Last Dragon and Encanto by many of the animators who worked on the Zootopia film. Among the 4 shorts that didn’t make the cut was a horror-inspired short that would’ve included a sloth doing the slowest slow turn ever. And while there was no announcement about what might be on the horizon past Zootopia+, Trent and Josie both shared their eagerness to work on a potential sequel someday.
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