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Everything You Wanted to Know About the Zootopia+ Musical

Duke the Musical

“Zootopia+,” now streaming on Disney+, takes views back to their favorite mammalian oasis from the Oscar-winning 2016 film “Zootopia.” The six short films, each featuring a different batch of characters and each connecting explicitly (and surprisingly) with the original film, comes from directors Trent Correy and Josie Trinidad and producer Nathan Curtis, who lovingly continue what came before.

We talked to Correy, Trinidad and Curtis about bringing “Zootopia+” to life and got the inside story on that musical episode featuring everybody’s favorite character Duke Weaselton (voiced once more by Disney Animation lucky charm Alan Tudyk).

How did everybody come up with this format of having just little glimpses of life in Zootopia?

Trent Correy: Sure, I can kick this one off, Drew. Really, it came from, there was a pitch program at Disney a couple years ago. The format was actually laid out – they wanted a series that was short form and that had six episodes. But what they did is they opened it up to the whole studio. They said, “Anybody can pitch. It doesn’t matter if you’re in technology, you’re in production or you’re an artist on the floor, it’s open to everybody.” Very inclusive. And they said, “Take a look at our history and you can pitch whatever you want.”

I had worked on the original “Zootopia” as an animator and just thought, What a world. I want to spend more time there; I want to spend more time with the characters. I very quickly chose that one as one I wanted to pitch and I put it forward and it was just a seed of an idea at the time.

It was just a couple questions of, What if we interconnected these stories with the original film? What if they had different genres and what if it really focused on the secondary mammals of the original movie? It wasn’t ever based on Nick and Judy, it was always based on spending more time with characters like Clawhauser or Mr. Big. That’s how it came to be. And those were the three main goals of the series. And that’s when I brought it to Josie and Byron [Howard] and Jared [Bush], the filmmakers of the original movie. And they said, “You’ve got to have fun with it. You’ve got to push it. You’ve got to really just make this fun and edgy.” And Josie came on board right away to direct this series with me and we teamed up from there and we grew the episodes, right Josie?

Josie Trinidad: Absolutely.

Were the installments always supposed to connect back to the original film?

Trent Correy: It was always there Drew, because I think I met you actually during “Once Upon a Snowman.” And so I had directed that short with a fellow named Dan Abraham, and that was a peek behind the curtain – what happened between “Let It Go” and when we meet Olaf and personally, I love “Choose Your Own Adventure, I love the multiverse stories. Sign me up, I’ll watch any of those. And I wanted to do more of that. So really “Zootopia+” was building off my experience with “Once Upon a Snowman.”

Was there any idea that was too outrageous?

Trent Correy: Don’t ask the producer.

Nathan Curtis: Good. Thank you for asking this. This is good. Trent and Josie, the sky’s the limits with their creativity. And there were a few times I’m like, “Hey, can we bring it back down a little bit?” But they did such an amazing job of pushing the envelope on these and making it so it’s not just like something we’ve seen before. I think these are so unique in how we’re telling the stories, yet still taking place in the Zootopia land. I just think, again, the way that Josie and Trent approached these shorts, phenomenal.

The standout installment is the “Duke: The Musical” entry. Can you talk about that?

Josie Trinidad: It was a miracle Drew, honestly, it started off as a heist. It was an “Ocean’s 11”-type of heist where Trent, you had Duke sort of, I forget how you…

Trent Correy: You know what, he was always debating. It had a similar tone to it where he was always debating good and bad and trying. He had just gotten out of jail after being caught by Judy and he was trying to find his way in life and you see him steal all this stuff and it had some heart. He brought it to his mother. And then on the way out from delivering all those stolen goods, he stole something else from his mother’s care facility. It always had this character that was trying to balance a good versus evil and if he can change or not.

Josie Trinidad: Exactly. And as we were developing this heist we thought, it was our PA Ava Moss. She knew we were leaning heavily into the different genres. And she just said very casually, “Why don’t you make a musical?” And we thought, why don’t we? That’s brilliant, we’re Disney. But honestly, Drew, we didn’t know if we could do it. We were like, Ugh, Can we actually execute this? And it was amazing to come across [songwriters] Kate [Anderson] and Elyssa [Samsel] and then for Michael Giacchino to step in. I mean, it was very kind of hat in hand, Well maybe do you think we could get Michael? And he said yes. I feel like that day, so it was just all these dominoes started to fall right into place and it just seemed right. And really, Kate and Elyssa were such great partners and Michael were great partners in the story, building the story, we kind of threw ideas to each other. It’s a really amazing collaborative process that was a joy to behold.

“Zootopia+” is on Disney+ now.

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Monica has a BA in Journalism and English from the University of Massachusetts and an MS in Journalism and Communications from Quinnipiac University. Monica has worked as a journalist for over 20 years covering all things entertainment. She has covered everything from San Diego Comic-Con, The SAG Awards, Academy Awards, and more. Monica has been published in Variety, Swagger Magazine, Emmy Magazine, CNN, AP, Hidden Remote, and more. For the past 10 years, she has added PR and marketing to her list of talents as the president of Prime Entertainment Publicity, LLC. Monica is ready for anything and is proudly obsessed with pop culture.

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