Is Zootopia a Pixar or a Disney Movie?


Walt Disney Animation Studios and Pixar Animation Studios started their cooperation in 1991 and henceforth have been two of the biggest names in the industry regarding animated movies. This is second by their record on Academy Awards wins and their ranking on the list of global box-office scale. The two animation studios are both parts of a much larger organization, which is, in fact, one of the biggest conglomerates in the western hemisphere – the Walt Disney Company. This article will give you a rundown of Zootopia – the second highest-grossing animated feature film by Walt Disney Animation Studios – and elaborate on its relation to Disney and Pixar.

Zootopia was produced by The Walt Disney Animation Studios and distributed by The Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures. The cop comedy that features personified animal characters that make for the urban population in a metropolis called Zootopia captured audiences worldwide upon its release in 2016. It is a fun, intriguing, adventurous movie in which the leading characters both grow by learning about each other and themselves and strive to overcome all obstacles they face so as to try and make the world a better place. The movie is brimming with witty writing, colorful scenes, fun characters, and intriguing plot twists.

While Zootopia achieved a staggering $1.024 billion at the box office, against its estimated budget of about $150 million, it seems to have “drowned” in Disney’s animated library. Moreover, when compared to other animated films produced by Walt Disney Animation Studios vs. those made by Pixar, the cop comedy seems to tick a notable number of boxes characteristic of Pixar movies. Here is why we think so.

The adventurous, gutsy duo as protagonists of the story

As mentioned in the introduction, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, a rabbit, and a fox, happen to cross paths in the fictional metropolis of Zootopia. What makes this partnership even more unlikely is the fact that Judy is a police officer who is incredibly dedicated to the virtues and morals she honed as a law enforcer that strives to put an end to any kind of injustice or wrongdoing.


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While Nick, on the other hand, is a con artist. The “dumb bunny” and “sly fox,” as they call each other, end up working together to unveil the mystery behind a case with very few leads, which sets them off on an adventure that will prove to be more than they bargained for.

judyNick 1

Achieving humor through witty writing and remarks

When it comes to laughs, this family comedy does not fall short. The likable characters and there, on occasion, quite sarcastic remarks make this movie anything but dull and monotonous.

The 113 minutes long mystery is filled with easter eggs, which include a plethora of references outside Disney’s library, making it so that worldly experience and knowledge of culture are necessary if one is to catch every remark. Similarly, such sophisticated humor can be experienced in Pixar’s Cars, The Incredibles, Bug’s Life, etc.


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Worldbuilding and exploration

In Zootopia, a lot of attention has been directed towards the city itself. As the adventure progresses, the scenery changes at almost every step of the way, making this not merely a case-cracking expedition but also an exploration for the viewers.

Additionally, different news anchors were added to the picture, which changes based on which country the film is being shown in. Moreover, the witty use of items and materials in terms of the architecture, if we may call it that, of the animals’ homes, as well as a keen sense of utilizing each animal’s characteristics in certain scenarios.

For instance, the sloths running the DMW make this film a really fun ride. Sounds familiar? We could say the same for Pixar’s Onward, Coco, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Up, and others.


The tangled plot focused on solving a mystery

This might, in fact, be the biggest step away from Disney’s trademark, as it does not seem to follow the usual sensible formula at all. While it is true that a plethora of Disney films involve princesses and fairy tales, we don’t mean it that way.

The thought is more so directed at the nature of these movies, where certain values and morals are being pushed, making them relatable to a wide audience but also everlasting. When a story is focused on human relations, virtues, morals, and emotions such as love, grief, or guilt, it will always have the power to reach its consumers.

Meanwhile, while it is brimming with easter eggs and witty lines, a detective story focused on solving a mystery won’t have the same effect. What’s important to note here is that this view does not deny this movie the core values it promotes and the unwavering will to make the world a better place, or the catharsis some characters experience, but rather that it simply does not direct most of its attention to that kind of sentimental value when it comes to plot progression.

Judy’s desire to help and tendency to seek justice is the catalyst, while all that follows is a chain of events that occur during their investigation. It does not primarily deal with such topics as true love, a parent’s love for their child, redemption, or other such affairs.


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This may be the main reason this film, while being the second highest-grossing for Disney and fourth highest-grossing animated feature film overall, isn’t “as big” on the global stage as some other titles. 



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To wrap this story up, Zootopia is an animated feature film by Walt Disney Animation Studios without any official involvement from Pixar. One could easily explain any similarities between animation and CGI by recalling that Pixar was bought by Walt Disney in 2006, after having started their collaboration in 1991.

Therefore, it should be hardly surprising that the two studios use the same or similar technologies in their projects. However, since the two studios essentially work independently, even since 2006 when Disney bought Pixar, it does not come as a surprise that, if Zootopia had been a Pixar film, there would be fewer apparent differences when compared to other films in Pixar’s library.

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