'Zootopia' puts Minnesota-born animator in the Hollywood big time


If you see Disney's hit film Zootopia and stay after it ends to see if there's a post-credits scene, pay attention to those names scrolling up – one of them belongs to Minnesotan Justin Weber.

He served as an animator on the movie, and it's a career first for the Sauk Rapids native.

According to the St. Cloud Times, though he's worked on a number of headlining Disney flicks – like Frozen and Big Hero 6 – Zootopia is his first credit as a "full-fledged animator."

On the other films, Weber's Internet Movie Database profile shows, he was an "apprentice animator" and "assistant animator."

The Associated Press says Weber worked on "major shots" of the characters, including animating Nick Wilde, a con-artist fox, and some of rabbit Judy Hopps, a wet-behind-the-bunny-ears cop.

According to the St. Cloud Times, Weber, who graduated from Foley High and attended St. Cloud State before graduating from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, had to find his inner actor to bring the cartoon to life, as Disney animators often record their facial expressions as a model for those of the characters.

Zootopia takes place in an animal-run world and centers on the two main characters, Wilde and Hopps, voiced by Ginnifer Goodwin and Jason Bateman, respectively, as they work to solve a conspiracy.

The film, which opened this weekend, is a hit, with USA Today reporting it crushed its "human competition" with a "stunning" $73.7 million take at the box office.

Interestingly, Zootopia scored the biggest opening for a Disney "non-Pixar" animated film (i.e. Inside Out and Brave), Deadline Hollywood says.

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