Oscars: Disney's 'Zootopia' to Host Debate Viewing Party

Disney's March release, which still is the best reviewed film of the year and centers around a trailblazing female and a shameless con artist, is hosting a debate viewing party.
Courtesy of Disney

What does a PG-rated animated Disney movie released in March have to do with tonight's first presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump? That's a question that some Hollywood journalists and tastemakers, including Golden Globes and Critics' Choice voters, asked when they received an e-invitation to attend a Zootopia Debate Viewing Party at the Sunset Tower Hotel.

"Dana [Bseiso] in our office suggested it," says veteran publicist Tony Angellotti of The Angellotti Company, which long has represented Disney's awards interests. "Then I was watching MSNBC and the GOP consultant Mike Murphy, when asked about the debate, threw up his hands and said, 'It's gonna be a zoo!' That sealed the deal for me."

Zootopia, currently the best reviewed film of the year, animated or live-action, according to Rotten Tomatoes, centers on a trailblazing female [the bunny Judy Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin] and a shameless con artist [the fox Nick Wilde, voiced by Jason Bateman], and shows how some leaders promote fear of the "other" in order to hold on to power. If those descriptions sound familiar, then perhaps it won't come as a surprise that the film — which had a record-setting $233.1 million worldwide opening and has now grossed more than $1 billion worldwide, making it the second-highest-grossing film of 2016 and 24th highest of all-time — has been compared to the current American political situation ever since critics first began seeing and writing about it.

"Zootopia in the year of Trump: the parallels between a Disney cartoon and the 2016 election continue to surprise," said Salon. Time suggested, "Zootopia is actually a movie about crooked, bigoted authority figures who recognize that the best way to stay in power is to make sure 'white' animals live in constant fear of 'black' ones. And if that’s not a sock-in-the-jaw metaphor for contemporary life in most major American cities, what is?" NPR called the film "a remarkably prescient allegory of our time that comments on prejudice, urbanism, tokenism, politics and the role of the police in today’s society, … an irreverent product of our current era and an unmistakable satire of race relations." And the Washington Post declared it, "The perfect film for this politically divisive campaign season," while Rolling Stone argued that it "may be the most subversive movie of the year."

"Everyone's interested in how films are reflecting the year, even if they were made earlier," says Angellotti, an apprehensive Clinton supporter who will make sure that attendees at his food-and-cocktails gathering won't behave like animals and prevent others from hearing the debate. "There's always a way to draw attention to your films, so we've decided to have some substantive fun because this is a substantively fun movie."