HOLLYWOOD, CA – FEBRUARY 26: (L-R) Co-directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore and producer Clark Spencer, winners of the Best Animated Feature Film award for ‘Zootopia’ pose in the press room during the 89th Annual Academy Awards at Hollywood & Highland Center on February 26, 2017 in Hollywood, California. Frazer Harrison/Getty Images/AFP .Frazer Harrison / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / AFP
Buddy cop comedy “Zootopia” bagged the Oscar for best animated feature film on Sunday, crowning what turned into a record 2016 for Disney.
The movie centers on the intrepid rabbit police officer Judy Hopps who, along with a fox, solves a crime in a metropolis inhabited by a diverse population of animals.
“Zootopia,” the clear frontrunner going into the Academy Awards, bested another Disney film, “Moana,” along with “Kubo and the Two Strings,” “The Red Turtle” and “My Life as a Zucchini.”
The critically acclaimed picture, which was helped along by a massive promotional campaign, raked in more than $1 billion at box offices worldwide.
“Five years ago, almost six now, oh, my God, we got this crazy idea to talk about humanity with talking animals in the hopes that when the film came out, it would make the world just a slightly better place,” said co-director Byron Howard.
“And we are so grateful to the audiences all over the world who embraced this film with this story of tolerance being more powerful than fear of the other,” said co-director Rich Moore, previously nominated for “Wreck-It Ralph.”
“Zootopia” stars Ginnifer Goodwin as Hopps and Jason Bateman as her companion, small-time conman Nick Wilde.
It took a crew of around 800 people five years to complete and boasts an all-star supporting cast that includes Idris Elba, Alan Tudyk, J.K. Simmons, Octavia Spencer, Kristen Bell and the Colombian singer Shakira.
“Zootopia,” which had already scooped best animated picture honors at the Golden Globes and Producers Guild Awards, originally revolved around Bateman’s character.
But it underwent extensive rewrites after test audiences reported that they had difficulty connecting with him emotionally and found themselves drawn to Hopps.
Opening in March 2016, it took $75 million in its first weekend, a record-setting box office debut for Disney Animation Studios, and within a month had become the first film of last year to gross over $800 million.
In December, Disney became the first studio to cross the $7 billion threshold within a one-year window.
“Zootopia” received widespread acclaim, with critics noting approvingly its message against racism and gender discrimination — at a time when the presidential election campaign was dividing America.
“The fact that we got nominated was a huge shot in the arm for Disney because 10 years ago, frankly, the studio was struggling hard to make quality films,” Howard recently told The Los Angeles Times.
“‘Zootopia’ is about something that is difficult to talk about; it’s about bias and discrimination. It was reassuring for Rich and myself to take the film around the world and see that wherever we went, people were getting that message.”
Rotten Tomatoes, an online aggregator of critical reaction, gives “Zootopia” an average rating of 8.1 out of 10, based on more than 200 reviews.
“The brilliantly well-rounded ‘Zootopia’ offers a thoughtful, inclusive message that’s as rich and timely as its sumptuously state-of-the-art animation — all while remaining fast and funny enough to keep younger viewers entertained,” the site’s consensus reads.