'Zootopia' Adopted the Title 'Zootropolis' in Various International Regions

Allison DeGrushe - Author

Dec. 15 2023, Published 3:34 p.m. ET

The Gist:

  • Zootopia is a 2016 American animated buddy cop action comedy film.
  • The film was retitled Zootropolis for theatrical release across several international territories.
  • Disney changed the name to allow the film to have a unique title that works for global audiences.
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Everyone can agree that Zootopia is an exceptional film, ranking among Disney's finest animated creations in recent years. This buddy cop action comedy not only achieved a remarkable worldwide gross exceeding $1 billion but also garnered numerous accolades, including the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

Even though it hit theaters many years ago, this animated gem still captivates viewers of all ages. The more audiences revisit it, the more subtle details they uncover, such as the film's intriguing name change. But have you ever wondered why Zootopia decided to switch things up? If so, keep scrolling because we have the answer!

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'Zootopia' characters smiling.
Source: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Why did 'Zootopia' change its name?

On Dec. 30, 2021, TikTok user Stephen Fee (@feeheelee) shared an interesting observation. As he sat down to watch Encanto with his little ones, he quickly discovered that Disney Plus had renamed Zootopia to Zootropolis, alluding to the idea of a "metropolis" rather than a "utopia."

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Now, the question arises: What prompted this change? Considering there was no need to worry about comparisons with other movies or TV shows, why did Disney opt to retitle Zootopia as Zootropolis?

The studio's decision stemmed from a strategic move for the film's theatrical release in various international regions, including the United Kingdom and several European, Middle Eastern, and North African countries.

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At the time of the film's release, a spokesman for Disney told Screen International, "In the U.K., we decided to change the title to Zootropolis to merely allow the film to have a unique title that works for U.K. audiences."

Disney couldn't trade 'Zootopia,' so they changed the name to 'Zootropolis.'

Despite the decision to rename it as Zootropolis aimed to better connect with global audiences, there's an additional factor behind the change. As it turns out, Disney faced difficulties in trademarking the name Zootopia, leading them to choose a rebranding approach, giving rise to the title Zootropolis.

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According to the UK Intellectual Property Office's website via Tumblr, a zoo in Denmark has had the name "Zootopia" trademarked since February 2010. Givskud Zoo officially implemented the iconic name in 2019 when it opened a new area for the zoo's 50th anniversary.

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The trademark held by Givskud Zoo encompasses the rights to sell clothing, games, and educational services under the name "Zootopia." Therefore, if Disney had stuck with the American title for international releases, it would have potentially clashed with Givskud Zoo's trademark, particularly concerning merchandise plans.

It's also noteworthy that in Germany, the animated feature film adopted the title Zoomania to avoid conflict with a children's book titled Zootopolis by German author Kay Fischer, which was published in 2010.

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