KnowsMore, the lovable search bar host with all the answers to your most pressing questions, retrieved the following results to the question: Why is Disney making a sequel to Wreck-It Ralph?
Writer Phil Johnson recalled the first time a sequel was discussed with the Director of the first film when I visited Walt Disney Animation Studios in August for an early look at Ralph Breaks the Internet. “Rich [Moore] and I first started talking about revisiting the characters of the first Wreck-It Ralph back in 2014. That’s when we wondered if there were more stories to explore with Ralph and Vanellope. We weren’t going to make a sequel, though, unless there was a very good reason to do it. And for us, that came when we started to talk about transporting these two misfit characters from their small town – the arcade where they live – to the expansive world of the Internet. And we could immediately see the opportunities for comedy and conflict between our two main characters. And that’s when we started to get really excited about this idea.”
Clark Spencer returned to Ralph’s world as the Producer of Ralph Breaks the Internet and had some wisdom to add. “These films always come close to becoming something else as they evolve over the years. The idea came fairly soon after we worked on the first Ralph, we were just talking about would we ever want to do a sequel and if so, why. Because the first movie wraps up pretty nicely with Ralph’s line, which is ‘If that kid likes me how bad can I be?’ Which, at the time we made it, felt like a very sweet sentiment. However, as we started poking around at that idea, it’s actually a little bit dysfunctional that Ralph is defining himself based on how another person feels about him.”
When the sequel was first announced, the world was surprised by the departure from the video game world. Spencer shared their reasons for taking Ralph out of the arcade. “The idea of the Internet was a big idea, like what if a router got plugged in, that could be cool in terms of expanding the universe and the world they come from. So that idea probably came first, like if we’re going to do this, it should be bigger and crazier than the arcade and the Internet is that. And that idea of Ralph isn’t finished with his journey and neither is Vanellope quite frankly, we’ve only known her for an hour of screen time in the first movie, so she has a lot more life to live and a lot more story and a lot more growth. It was just the idea that these characters weren’t finished and we weren’t done with them is really what drove it.”
Head of Story, Josie Trinidad, shared how daunting it can be to write a Disney Animated Feature, even when it’s a sequel. “We had about 15 Story Artists on our story team, we had about 10 screenings including an audience preview. 45 total sequences are in the film and actually there were 153 total sequences boarded, so over 100 sequences were thrown out of the movie. And 7,883 total sequence versions, so that’s every kind of iteration that each artist does that makes a change on these sequences. And a whopping 283,839 storyboards drawn for Ralph Breaks the Internet. Another day in the life of a Story Artist.”
Phil Johnston served as a Writer on both the original Wreck-It Ralph and the 2016 box office juggernaut, Zootopia. “We to some extent were emboldened by the work on Zootopia, knowing that audiences are okay and actually eager for a more sophisticated kind of approach in family films to tricky subject matter. Like in Zootopia it was racism, in this one we’re dealing to an extent with online bullying and trolling. But more on an emotional level with Ralph, just dealing with self doubt and insecurity and all those things that I think both parents and kids can relate to. So the way we treat it, we’re not dealing with fascism in this movie, but we are dealing with those emotions that kids and parents feel when they’re trolled, when a stranger belittles you and how that makes you feel. And how having a true friend and people who love and support you can help you get through that… So hopefully in talking about it and using a character like Ralph and Vanellope to be our eyes into that, we’re at least helping start a discussion between parents and kids.”
Production Designer Cory Loftis revealed that while Ralph and Vanellope are still the same characters, they’ve received a few upgrades from when we last saw them. Advances in animation technology have heightened a few subtle details, like Ralph has better wrinkle detail in his clothes and more individual strands of hair than 2012 technology allowed. Vanellope’s ponytail was faked in the first film, it wasn’t even attached to her head. In this film, the strands of hair from her head are tied up in a ponytail, adding another layer of realism not possible before.
Internet culture is constantly changing and Director Rich Moore observed how dark it became during the production on this film. “Over those four years, the internet has become a more hostile place… We felt like we can’t do a movie about the Internet and paint it as all roses and sunshine. We have to kind of give due to the darker side of it and we have a scene that involves the dark net that Ralph goes to at one point in the story. We approached it like Zootopia with the theme of racism; it would be bad on our part to say ‘Well, Judy Hopps is going to solve racism.’ That’s just not how the world works, but she can experience it and she can practice it and she can learn from it and she can rise above it. So that was our goal with this movie, that Ralph can encounter these things and he can embody them and he can fall prey to them, but ultimately what we want is not to solve it, because I think that would be disingenuous of us, and the last thing we want to do is lecture the audience and preach to them. But we can show a character who encounters what we encounter on the Internet and how he goes about rising above it.”
Check back on October 4th for more answers from KnowsMore about Disney’s Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. You can explore the Internet with Ralph and Vanellope in theaters starting November 21st.
Alex has been blogging about Disney films since 2009 after a lifetime of fandom. He joined the Laughing Place team in 2014 and covers films across all of Disney’s brands, including Star Wars, Marvel, and Fox, in addition to books, music, toys, consumer products, and food. You can hear his voice as a member of the Laughing Place Podcast and his face can be seen on Laughing Place’s YouTube channel where he unboxes stuff.