1. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    New idea: too similar to Zootopia?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Rick n Morty, Apr 8, 2016.

    Me and my brother went to see Zootopia a week after it was released, and we loved it. Like everyone else, we loved the racism and prejudice themes.

    One of my few problems with the film was the fact that it was all mammals, and there were no birds and reptiles. The reason this bothered me is because the other films this one is deconstructing (like Robin Hood, Cats Don't Dance, and Kung Fu Panda) had bird and reptile characters, and I feel that the racism themes could've been just as strong, if not stronger, had they included birds and reptiles.

    So, I came up with a premise that is similar to Zootopia in that it takes place in a world of funny animals, and deals with racism and prejudice. The difference is that the setting also includes birds and reptiles, and the prejudice is between mammals and non-mammals instead of predators and prey. The reptiles are stereotyped in-universe to be nothing but gangsters, thieves, and (possibly) rapists. Mammals aren't quite as prejudiced towards birds, but it's still there, and birds aren't allowed to have a lot of the same jobs as mammals. (The carnivores eat fish and insects, just like in Zootopia, if you're worried about carnivore confusion.)

    The thing I'm worried about is that the idea is TOO similar to Zootopia (other than the inclusion of non-mammals). Do you guys think it's too similar, and if it is, do you have any suggestions on how to make it separate?

    (Just to let you know, I only have the premise thought out. Not the actual plot.)
     
  2. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    At the most basic level, a story consists of
    • Characters
    • Setting
    • Plot
    • Themes
    You're talking about using the same themes as Zootopia with a similar setting. How could you make the plot and characters different enough not to be seen as a one-to-one copy?
     
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  3. Kata_Misashi
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    Kata_Misashi Active Member

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    I actually kinda have something along the lines of that going on way before I saw Zootopia! Don't get me wrong it was a great movie and I knew I wasn't the only one to notice they didn't have reptiles or birds... They're probably going to correct that problem when they make a Zootopia 2, I bet :p
     
  4. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Like I said, I don't really have a plot thought out, but I do have some characters.

    • The protagonist is a scientist crow whom no one takes seriously because birds aren't usually thought of as the scientist type.
    • There's a crocodile who has a wife and children whom he cares deeply for, to challenge the idea that reptiles are incapable of love.
    • There's some monitor lizard gangsters who are later revealed to only behave that way because that's how society expects them to. (And one of them enjoys listening to "mammal music", which his brothers find really odd.) They were going to be protagonists, but I felt they were too similar to Nick Wilde, so I moved them to secondary characters. (Though they're still important to the plot.)
    • There's a mayor (haven't figured out what species) who plans on segregating reptiles into their own city where they can commit all the crimes they want away from the birds and mammals. So, basically an animal version of Donald Trump. (I was going to make him a bald eagle, which fits the "Make America great again" thing, but I realized it wouldn't make sense for a bird to be in a high position of power in this city, so he has to be a mammal. A lion would fit really well, but he'd be too similar to Mayor Lionheart.)
    • There has to be a good, non-prejudiced mammal ally of the protagonist, to make the themes less black and white.
    • There's also a tough guy swan who's tired of everyone calling him "pretty", and beating the crap out of everyone who bothers him.
    Anyone got any suggestions on making the plot separate from Zootopia based on these characters I came up with?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2016
  5. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Unfortunately, this doesn't sound significantly different from Zootopia. I know that you want the birds and reptiles, but I'm not seeing the metaphorical link to anything in the human world. Which humans do your birds and reptiles represent, that were excluded from Zootopia? I don't see that Zootopia excludes (metaphorically) any category of humans.
     
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  6. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    You would definitely need to make the anti-bigotry sentiment a little less direct than Zootopia did if you want it to be clear that you're not just re-writing the same story. Maybe focus more on the glass ceilings for each species than on outright segregation?

    Oh I like that ;)
    http://www.cracked.com/article_19042_6-terrifying-ways-crows-are-way-smarter-than-you-think_p2.html

    What exactly is the scientist working on?
     
  7. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Grrr...ORIGINALITY IS SO HARD!!!

    Anyways, I came up with the idea that birds are similar to how women were treated (they are a lot less prejudiced than they used to be in the past, but they're still not allowed to get certain jobs) while reptiles are treated similar to minority races (most notably Mexicans and Muslims) in that mammals and birds only think of them for the crimes some individuals did, and never for their positive traits.
     
  8. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    I haven't figured that out yet. Maybe he's trying to prove that reptiles ARE capable of love, contrary to the stereotype, and using his crocodile friend as an example.
     
  9. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    What if you changed it away from a societal story to a smaller, family story? All of the ideas so far sound like the immediate response will be, "So it's Zootopia with more types of animals?" I would fundamentally change the plot.
     
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  10. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Make it the animal version of Game of thrones, that will be interesting. forget modern times, it is too similar to zootopia and will probably not be taken seriously.

    OR

    It's a interstellar space station that is floating dead in space. the humans have died, and the animals have taken over. either they have been out there for millions of years and have developed the ability to speak, imitating the legendary customs of their former masters, or they haven't been out there that long since the humans disappeared, but were genetically engineered to be intelligent. perhaps the station eventually crashes on an Eden planet, and they go and form colonies.
     
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  11. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    So...like a medieval setting, like Robin Hood?
     
  12. Mckk
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    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Just call it fanfic and be done with it - then you won't have to worry.

    But as it stands, you're added birds and reptiles but beyond that, nothing has changed. This is a blatant copy, I'm sorry to say.

    By the way, your scientist crow whom no one takes seriously because birds don't do science - that's Officier Hopp right there, the rabbit police officer whom no one takes seriously because rabbits don't join the police force.

    Your lizard gangsters who behave according to how society has stereotyped them - Nick Wilde, but you spotted that one yourself already.

    There's a mayor who wants to separate all the reptiles from the rest? How is this different from this below? (I've put it in spoiler tags so I don't spoil the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it)
    the sheep assistant mayor (who was made mayor by the end) seeking to sow distrust against the predators and thus separating them?
     
  13. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    I haven't seen Zootopia and am not really familiar with it, and in my opinion, copyright issues aside, I'm not sure if you have enough of an idea on its own. For a minute, forget about Zootopia. What are you trying to accomplish with your story? Obviously "Zootopia with reptiles and birds" is not a good enough premise for a story. You seem to be focused on racial/cultural stereotypes. What's the point you're trying to make? If it's just "race doesn't matter, we're all the same at heart" I'm sorry to say that's been done a ton of times before. What is something about racial and cultural stereotypes that you feel really needs to be said, but hasn't been yet?
     
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  14. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Sigh...I guess I can just rework this idea as a fanfic (fan sequel, maybe?).

    I guess the problem is that Zootopia is still a really recent film. What if I redid this idea a decade or so from now? After all, the reason people complained about Disney's The Wild (a film that has been long forgotten for its other problems) was because it came out just a year after Dreamworks' Madagascar.
     
  15. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    yeah, or chronicles of Narnia. the animals in those stories could easily pull an entire book.

    plus it lets them deal with real world problems, living off the land and such.

    awesome screen name by the way, that show is funny. Haven't been able to watch season 2, because my on demand keeps adding it, taking it off, adding it, taking it off.
     
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  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    The issue that I see is that the story is the same story as Zootopia. The addition of new animals doesn't change anything.

    Oh. Y'know. Another issue: Zootopia used the word "mammals" several times. Not "animals", but "mammals".

    That signals to me that Disney is already planning to add birds and reptiles in a sequel.
     
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  17. Rick n Morty
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    Rick n Morty Active Member

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    Well, we can just wait and see. If they DO make a sequel with birds and reptiles, I'll be fine with abandoning this idea. At least I still have my other ideas. (hugs other concepts)
     
  18. Xerclipse
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    Xerclipse Member

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    The original idea for Zootopia was flawed, but its final idea was what made it a hit. Your idea is flawed but I believe you can come up with another idea. Don't feel bad.

    I was dealing with a similar problem with my story. I wanted to write a space opera for my comic that deals with a sword wielding protagonist that has supernatural abilities to defeat a ruler. One of his greatest enemies is also an expert sword wielder who also works for the ruler. Sounds familiar right? Geez I wonder how such a popular story can be original.

    Well here is what I did. I added my own spin on it. In fact I still feel like I am close enough to be in your shoes currently. These are the differences that I have so far.

    • I gave my villains more dimension
    • Added different motivations for the federal government. They want to protect, not conquer and brutally control the whole system.
    • People worship the ruler as if it were a religion.
    • Sociopathic and sadistic protagonist
    • Added the theme of gray morality
    • Not all sides are all bad or all good. (Star Wars: All rebels were good, the empire was bad. Not in my story)
    • Doesn't really take place in the whole Galaxy.
    • Mentally broken down characters with severe PTSD and odd social behaviors.
    • Lots of graphic violence (may not be important to state)

    You can tell the same story but you can make it different. For your case... the addition of reptiles is not enough to make it sound different. The addition of yet more variety in species will not even make it original either.

    What you do need is to deal with different themes than just prejudice. Maybe you are a fan of anthropomorphic stories. Try drawing a venn diagram that shows what makes your story different, Zootopia's story different, and what they have in common. That will really help you in the long run.

    I like your name by the way. Great show.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
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  19. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    Either give it more to work with, and probably get rid of some of the Zootopia-esque elements, or dump it, or it's fanfiction. At the end of the day, people aren't always entirely fair with what they read/watch/play. Often the most obvious parallels are given substantially more weight as indicators of originality, even though there's a lot of originality to be had in the more subtle differences. So if something has an immediate resemblance to something else very popular which capitalized of those very elements, it has to work hard to distinguish itself even if the subtler elements are different. Not saying you can't do it, but you have to make it different, especially since Zootopia, as it has been said, is very recent.It will be fresh in people's memories.
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2016
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  20. Xerclipse
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    Xerclipse Member

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    The problem he has is that he is part of the human culture that is going through a Zootopia phase, where new ideas of fan fics, stories and other forms of media involving that movie will boom. It's how I view it. As I said before a venn diagram would help him. A fan fic seems like an easy way out. I would be really curious to see how he can twist the whole entire idea and make it his own.
     
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