cartoon rabbit in police uniform standing with fox in yellow shirt and tie

Don’t Call Her ‘Carrots’! It May Take a While, But We’re (Eventually) Getting a ‘Zootopia 2’

Do you hear that faint grinding noise? That’s the sound of Hollywood’s production gears starting back up after months of inactivity. Now that the SAG-AFTRA strike has been resolved, previously stalled projects are clogging up the pipelines vying for their chance to go live. One upcoming movie sequel we’re particularly pumped to see is Zootopia 2, which can now finally head into production.

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Walt Disney Company Chief Executive Officer Robert Iger announced the studio’s intention to make a second installment of the popular 2016 film Zootopia on the Q1 earnings call on February 8, 2023. According to Collider, the CEO confirmed the studio’s plans for further entries in the Toy Story and Frozen franchises on the same phone call.

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(Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

“Today I’m so pleased to announce that we have sequels in the works from our animation studios to some of our most popular franchises, Frozen, and Zootopia,” Iger said. “We’ll have more to share about these productions soon, but this is a great example of how we’re leaning into our unrivaled brands and franchises.”

Disney later confirmed that original screenwriter Jared Bush will return to pen the second installment of Zootopia. Details are scarce so far, but here’s everything we know about the next Zootopia movie.

Zootopia 2 will pick up where the first film left off

The original Zootopia was released in theaters in March 2016. The animated film starred Ginnifer Goodwin as Judy Hopps, a rookie cop who happens to be the first bunny to ever join the Zootopia Police Department (ZPD).

Judy starts her new job “ready to make the world a better place,” but she’s immediately hit with a dose of harsh reality. It seems that even in the made-up city of Zootopia, no one is immune to stereotyping, racism, or prejudice. Determined not to be seen as “just some token bunny,” Judy begins investigating a crime and crosses paths with the ultimate sly fox, Nick Wilde, played with smarmy perfection by Jason Bateman.

Screenwriter Byron Howard originally pitched the Zootopia story to Disney Animation as a standard buddy-cop versus spy movie set in the 1960s. After bringing Bush on during the movie’s development, the movie radically shifted into its present day iteration. The original concept had Nick Wilde as the lead, with Judy Hopps supporting. Eventually, the filmmakers swapped the roles to better serve their message of “anyone can be anything.”

Indeed, the film has a strong message that audiences connected with during the tumultuous 2016 presidential election. While the political world seemingly crumbled around us, it was nice to see Judy proving that, “No matter what kind of animal you are, change starts with you.”

Who will star in Zootopia 2?

Goodwin and Bateman will almost certainly reprise their roles for the sequel. In an interview with CinemaBlend in 2016, Goodwin said she’d like to see a role reversal of sorts in the next chapter of Judy and Nick’s story.

“You and I know what happens at the end of the movie, and I would like them to [go] along on this adventure in their new roles,” said Goodwin. “But because they are playing new roles, I would also like to see Nick have to be the one to convince Judy that the world is worth fighting for.”

Bateman’s vision for the sequel is seeing Judy and Nick working side-by-side as crime-fighting coworkers: “The two of us, kicking ass out there. Cleaning up the streets. We’re a couple of new cops out there. So, bad guys, be warned.”

It remains to be seen whether scene-stealers Idris Elba, Skakira, or J.K. Simmons will return.

When will Zootopia 2 hit theaters?

There’s no deadline yet for the release of this highly anticipated film, nor is there a trailer available for our nerdy viewing pleasure. The good news is that now that the actors’ strike is over and development can finally resume, we’re likely starting a two-year window of production time. We hope to see Judy and Nick back in action sometime between November 2025 and March 2026. If we do have to wait until 2026, we hope we can expect some special 10-year anniversary extras with the cinematic release.

If you just can’t wait for a dose of Zootopian fun, you can stream the original Zootopia on Disney+ right now.

(featured image: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures)

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Beverly Jenkins
Beverly Jenkins (she/her) is a contributing writer for The Mary Sue. She writes about pop culture, entertainment, and web memes, and has published a book or a funny day-to-day desk calendar about web humor every year for a decade. When not writing, she's listening to audiobooks or watching streaming movies under a pile of her very loved (spoiled) pets.