A.k.a., fantastic beast references and where to find them
Half the fun of Disney’s Zootopia — the animation studio’s record-setting highest-grossing film since Frozen — is in the rich visual atmospheres surrounding the anthropomorphized action of the film’s crime-solving duo, bunny cop Judy Hopps (Ginnifer Goodwin) and her sly fox partner, Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman).
The film’s eponymous bustling metropolis is littered (sorry) with animal puns strewn across billboards, storefronts, and newsstands: Lulu Lemming, Trader Doe’s, Vanity Bear, and dozens, perhaps hundreds more. “It just had to get a response, either a laugh or an ‘ugghhh,’” laughs co-director Byron Howard.
But within Zootopia, the filmmakers have hidden a handful of Easter eggs that may only track for us humans in the real world. Howard and co-director Rich Moore already explained the inception of one of the biggest: that amazing Breaking Bad homage at the end of the film.
EW has an exclusive peek at some of the other big hidden gags you might have missed:
The first Easter egg isn’t quite hidden, but here’s a closer look at those bootleg Disney sequel titles sold on the streets by the shady Duke Weaselton (Alan Tudyk, who himself is an Easter egg — he voiced the similarly-named Duke of Weselton in Frozen).
Among the knock-off, zoologized DVDs are familiar Disney hits like Big Hero 6, Tangled (which Howard directed), and Wreck-It Ralph (which Moore directed), as well as upcoming titles like Moana, Gigantic, and Frozen 2.
BIG HERO 6
Hidden inside surly Chief Bogo’s (Idris Elba) no-nonsense office is a wall calendar bearing the neon cityscape of San Fransokyo, the fictional metropolis where Hiro saved the day in 2014’s Big Hero 6.
Howard and Moore say there’s another Disney reference in Bogo’s dialogue, again having to do with Frozen. Moore explains, “Bogo tells Judy, ‘Life’s not like a cartoon musical where you sing a little song and dreams magically come true, so let it go!’ Obviously, it was so funny to have Idris Elba read that line, because he did it with such relish. He really loved that.”
MICKEY MOUSE (PART ONE)
Surely the most famous animal in the Disney family had to make an appearance in Zootopia, right? In a movie stuffed with animals, Mickey Mouse pops up as — literally — a stuffed animal, tucked away in a passing stroller during one of Nick’s schemes.
THE JUNGLE BOOK
Another wild Disney movie gets just a slight homage, as the 1967 animated classic (and upcoming live-action adaptation) The Jungle Book is honored with a pose in Zootopia’s nudist colony scene. “There are a couple of shots in the colony that are very reminiscent of Baloo’s scratching scene during ‘Bear Necessities,’” says Moore.
MICKEY MOUSE (PART TWO)
A little trickier to spot is the hidden Mickey shape alongside cheetah Clawhauser’s (Nate Torrance) cheek:
The Internet was already quick to notice this little gem: Two baby elephants dressed like Frozen’s main characters, Anna and Elsa. Howard says, “Two little twin girls whose parents have bought them Anna and Elsa costumes… we thought, well, in their world, they would have their equivalent of animal Disney and Disney films, right? So why not?”
Yep, even the Force got to awaken in Zootopia, but the slight homage to Star Wars is decidedly more retro in its callback. “There’s a nod to Star Wars when Judy is trying to get the train car moving,” Moore points out. “She turns on the power, and the car dies, and she gives it a whack à la the Millennium Falcon, and it comes back to life, à la The Empire Strikes Back. There’s all sorts of film references. We layer it all in. We spent years doing the movie, so we had time to do it!”