If you’re a big Disney fan, you’ve probably noticed that the company is leaning pretty heavily into its intellectual property at the moment.
They’re relying on big brands and franchises like Star Wars and Marvel to carry the Disney+ streaming service, and they’re bringing films like Moana, Frozen, and Guardians of the Galaxy prominently into the parks. And most of the time, we understand WHY they choose to feature the films that they do…but there’s one film that Disney CEO Bob Iger has mentioned frequently that we’re a little confused about.
For those who’ve followed along with Disney news in the past couple of months, you may have heard one movie name over and over again — Zootopia. The 2016 film tells the story of a rabbit who wants to be a police officer in the big city of Zootopia. Along the way, she becomes friends with a common thief, and together they fight to uncover the corruption in their city.
It’s quite a charming movie, and it definitely wouldn’t be considered a “flop” for Disney by any means, but it has been included in recent fireworks shows, merchandise collections, and a series of big announcements since last year that leave us scratching our heads. The way Bob Iger talks about the movie is as if it’s on par with Frozen in terms of success and fandom — so is it?
First, let’s talk about all the places where Zootopia has been mentioned recently. One big place that comes to mind is back at the D23 Expo in September 2022, when the movie was mentioned as a possible addition to Animal Kingdom during the Blue Sky presentation. Concept art showed ideas for a themed land and matching attractions.
On top of that, Disney is bringing a Zootopia-themed land to Shanghai Disneyland. We’ve seen a glimpse of some of the state-of-the-art technology and animatronics, and there will be a new attraction as well. It’s set to open sometime in 2023.
And then recently, Disney announced that there are sequel movies in the works for Toy Story, Frozen, and Zootopia. We totally understand why Frozen and Toy Story would get new films (they’re major franchises!) but is Zootopia as popular? Why is it getting chosen?
Well, it may not feel like Zootopia has quite the same pull as other films, but in reality, it’s not too far behind the box-office giants of Frozen and Frozen 2. To illustrate the point, here are the box office numbers for what various Disney movies grossed worldwide when released:
- Zootopia — $1.025 billion (2016)
- Moana — $643 million (2016)
- Coco — $807 million (2017)
- Frozen — $1.28 billion (2013)
- Frozen 2 — $1.45 billion (2019)
So as you can see, it performed well above hits like Moana and Coco. But the popularity of the film is owed in large part to what it grossed overseas. Out of the total $1.025 billion, 66.7% was earned internationally, meaning that it raked in $684 million in those markets — more than Moana made in the same year total.
Perhaps Iger’s goal is to reel in more international tourists to the domestic Disney parks. It’s probably a smart move, considering those guests tend to be heavy spenders when they visit. And of course, if the sequel film does well, it certainly wouldn’t hurt Disney to have another movie break the $1 billion barrier at the box office.
We’ll be on the lookout for more Zootopia announcements in the future, so stay tuned to DFB!
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What do you think of Zootopia? Tell us in the comments!
The highest grossing Disney animated feature in China is…Zootopia.
I felt similarly when I first heard about Zootopia additions, but as someone living in Japan who fairly regularly goes to the Tokyo Disney parks, it’s amazing how popular it is here!
It’s usual to see the main characters in or even leading parades, as well as at popular meet and greet spots, and there’s a lot of merchandise too. Coco (Remember Me in Japan) is popular too, but I think the characters are less easy to merchandise in the parks than the Zootopia characters, especially with plushies, furry keychains and similar merchandise being so popular among Japanese guests.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Tokyo got a Zootopia expansion in the future.
Andy Lagopus says
“The way Bob Iger talks about the movie is as if it’s on par with Frozen in terms of success and fandom — so is it?”
Yes. It 100% is. Zootopia News Network is still going after over 7 years, featuring new art, comics, fanfics, and the like. There is a very active fandom that is still going after 7 years. This is despite not going nearly as viral as Frozen with “Let it Go”. And, despite the lack of merchandise surrounding it in the US, there is so much cool Zootopia stuff in China and Japan.
I’ve been saying that Zootopia has the most potential to be a franchise (more than Avatar, at least), that has gone almost completely untapped. Can’t wait for them to actually make use of their billion dollar movie that won almost every award it was nominated for.