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Zootopia+ Director Found It Incredibly Refreshing To Work With Animals For A Change – Exclusive

Disney has a long history of animated films to be proud of, dating all the way back to 1937's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs," which immediately kicked off the studio's reliance on bringing unorthodox characters to life. Since then, the studio has leaned into anthropomorphizing animals and inanimate objects, from "Bambi" and "The Lion King" to "Cars" and "Toy Story."

With well over 100 titles now under its belt in that category, there have been plenty of memorable main protagonists that weren't exactly human. But in terms of Disney's biggest animated hits in recent years, many of the characters have been people, with the biggest being, of course, Elsa and Anna from "Frozen."

That's why animator-turned director Trent Correy was so excited to work on 2016's blockbuster animated film "Zootopia," in which an animal metropolis comes to life, and its 2022 follow-up, the six-part series of shorts "Zootopia+," which is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.

As co-director of "Zootopia+," Correy was thrilled to help keep alive the Disney tradition of memorably making animals walk and talk, revisiting such extraordinary characters as the pint-size Arctic shrew Mr. Big and graceful pop star Gazelle. During an exclusive interview with Looper, Correy explained exactly why the endeavor was so exciting for him.

Animating animals takes a lot more research

On the original "Zootopia" film, Correy worked as an animator, moving up to co-director on "Zootopia+," which was actually his brainchild. His creation of the series of shorts all had to do with how much fun he had on the original film, which grossed over $1 billion worldwide.

"Animating on the movie was a joy because, from an animator's point of view, we had done a lot of movies with humans leading up to 'Zootopia,' movies like 'Big Hero 6' and 'Frozen,'" he told Looper. "So, it was refreshing to do these animals on two feet in clothing. It's part of the Disney legacy, movies like 'Robin Hood' [from 1973]. I got very excited about that and the design and the look of the movie."

Beyond that, he enjoyed the effort it took to breathe life into the characters. "As an animator, there's the variety of one week you might be animating a mouse, the next week it could be a camel, the next week an elephant, and it all leads to doing research," says Correy. "You learn how those characters move. It was a very fun movie to work on ... I tried to soak up every minute of it."

"Zootopia+" is now streaming exclusively on Disney+.