Many creators of creative fiction use their respective platforms to hold a mirror to society, using carefully constructed characters, settings and events to make us question the world we live in. Zootopia ambitiously held such a mirror in the guise of talking CGI animals, causing millions of viewers to reflect in the process.
The audacious and meticulously animated buddy cop movie is an unlikely success story. While anything with the Disney stamp attached to it is expected to perform, Zootopia has sky-rocketed to levels previously thought unachievable, cementing itself in history in the process.
An Original Success
Since its release in March, the film has steadily accumulated an impressive worldwide gross of $991.8 million. In its own right, levitating close to the billion dollar marker is admirable, but when you compare the film's performance to its peers, the feat becomes remarkable.
In an industry that churns out more prequels, sequels and adaptations than most of us have hot dinners, a completely original piece of work is something of a commodity. Comparatively, Zootopia is now the second most successful original movie (not taking inflation into account), behind James Cameron's 2009 epic Avatar ($2.7 billion).
In the world of animation, the bustling anthropomorphic tale trails behind only Toy Story 3 ($1.063 billion), Minions ($1.159 billion) and Frozen ($1.276 billion). Expanding the criteria even further to all films that aren't either a prequel or a sequel, and Zootopia is the sixth biggest of all time, behind Alice in Wonderland ($1.025 billion), Jurassic Park ($1.029 billion), Frozen ($1.27 billion), Titanic ($2.186 billion), and Avatar ($2.787 billion).
A Strong Political Message
Part of the film's huge success will be down to Disney's ability to capture the imagination of children and adults alike; while on the surface Zootopia looks like a happy-go-lucky story, there are layers of depth which may have taken a few by surprise.
Centered around the partnership of a bunny cop, Judy (Ginnifer Goodwin), and a con artist fox, Nicholas P. "Nick" Wilde (Jason Bateman), the anthropomorphic city provides the backdrop for a genuinely insightful political commentary where everyone is equal but some are more equal than others.
The unlikely pair uncover a conspiracy, which leads to an exploration of themes including racism, sexism, fear and xenophobia. While such issues are played out in the digitally rendered skin of animals, the lack of live action only increases the message, rather than detract from it.
Aside from the political undertone, the film is also another prime example of animation at its best, crafted by painstaking techniques to create eye-catching levels of realism. And judging from the film's box office performance, it's safe to say the hard work didn't go to waste.
Have you seen Zootopia? How do you rate it alongside Disney's other films?