Here's how 'Zootopia' beat 'Frozen' at the box office

The movie 'Zootopia' came in at number one at the box office this past weekend, with its three-day gross besting that of 'Frozen,' the previous record-holder for the best three-day opening for a Disney movie. What helped 'Zootopia' succeed?

Disney/AP
'Zootopia' stars Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman.

The Disney animated movie “Zootopia” had a great weekend at the box office, coming in at number one and setting a new record for the best three-day opening for a Disney animated film. 

The movie, which takes place in a city in which various animals live side-by-side, grossed more than $73 million. Box office smash “Frozen” took in more than $67 million over three days. 

The new film, “London Has Fallen,” an action movie starring Gerard Butler that is a sequel to the 2013 box office hit “Olympus Has Fallen,” came in second, grossing more than $21 million. 

Another new movie for the weekend, the Tina Fey film “Whiskey Tango Foxtrot,” came in fourth, grossing more than $7 million. It came in behind the superhero movie hit “Deadpool,” which opened in February and grossed more than $16 million this past weekend, coming in third. 

The movie “Gods of Egypt,” which also stars Butler along with “Game of Thrones” actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau and did not do well in its opening weekend last weekend, came in fifth this time, grossing $5 million.

“Zootopia” is now Disney’s newest success. What made the animated movie perform so well at the box office this past weekend?

One reason may be Disney’s recent creative success with movies. Critics have been mostly won over by recent efforts such as “Frozen,” “Big Hero 6,” and “Wreck-It Ralph.” Reviewers didn’t like many of Disney’s films in the early 2000s, but the studio appears to have turned that around. 

Variety writer Brent Lang points to this resurgence as at least part of the reason for the recent success of “Zootopia” and writes that the renewed originality of Disney films owes a lot to Disney purchasing animation studio Pixar. “The smashing success of ‘Zootopia’ confirmed the wisdom of that decade-old acquisition,” Lang writes. “ … Walt Disney Animation has become perhaps the most original voice in the animated world.”

And not only has “Zootopia” been well-received by critics, but it’s been lauded by them for its message of inclusion, writes Entertainment Weekly reporter Devan Coggan. “’Zootopia' has been universally praised by critics for its messages about prejudice and tolerance,” Coggan writes. Parents who read in reviews that these themes were present may have been even more likely to bring their children to the film. 

Michael Rechtshaffen of The Associated Press called “Zootopia” “smartly amusing [and] crisply relevant.”

“The 3-D caper expertly combines keen wit with a gentle, and very timely, message of inclusivity and empowerment,” Rechtshaffen wrote of the film. “…Judicious life lessons … never feel preachy or shoehorned-in.”

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