Jason Bateman Praises the ‘Positive and Incredibly Timely’ Message of Disney’s ‘Zootopia’

A little rain couldn’t dampen the spirits of those gathered at Wednesday’s premiere of Disney’s “Zootopia,” held at Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre. Costumed walk-around characters like bunny officer Judy Hopps (played in the film by Ginnifer Goodwin) and con-artist fox Nick Wilde (Jason Bateman) greeted stars on the tent-covered and sopping wet red carpet, where “Barbershop: The Next Cut” actress Garcelle Beauvais was one of the first to arrive, with several kids in tow, all of whom soaked in the scenery, which included a replica cardboard train station with functional seats and windows.

“When you have kids, these are like the only films we get to see,” joked Bateman of “Zootopia,” which focuses on a world in which animals of all kinds live together in peace and harmony — until the mysterious disappearance of 14 formerly predatory animals threatens the utopia-like city.

Bateman hailed “the positive and incredibly timely and current message of the film,” which presents themes about respecting one another’s differences and debunking preexisting notions of what certain people — or animals, in the case of the movie — are like.

“Zootopia” stars Jenny Slate, Shakira and Kristen Bell were also at the premiere, along with directors Byron Howard and Rich Moore, writer-director Jared Bush and executive John Lasseter.

The animal-populated film inspired young thesps like “Modern Family” regular Aubrey Anderson-Emmons — “I’m a huge animal lover,” she said. “I just love snakes” — and Sophie Reynolds, star of Disney XD’s “Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything.”

“I’m a huge animal lover and I don’t have any at this time, but I really, really want a dog,” said Reynolds.

Madeleine Curry, who voices a sheep and baby hippo in the film, responded to the film’s message of believing in oneself.

“You can do whatever you want in life, so long as you believe it,” said Curry.

Following the film, guests were treated to an after-party at the Annex at Hollywood & Highland, the highlights of which were carrot-themed buffet tables, a decorate-your-own donut and baseball hat station, a “Zootopia” driver license photo booth and the big hit of the night: two foxes, a sloth and a bunny rabbit brought in by the Sylmar-based Wildlife Learning Center.

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