EW Shares First Look at Four Realms of Disney’s “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms”

On November 2, audiences around the country will be swept away to a magical place full with stunning sights, richly themed worlds, fairies, nutcrackers and more accompanied by the powerful score of Tchaikovsky’s the Nutcracker. Disney’s The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, breathes new life into the centuries old tale and classic ballet that brings a Christmas nutcracker doll to life for one young girl. Entertainment Weekly shares a first look at the newly built worlds coming to theaters this fall.

Nutcracker and the Four Realms follows Clara, a young teenager who shares a special bond with her grandfather. As part of their annual Christmas celebration, Grandfather gives special gifts to each of his grandchildren. This year, the children follow a string with their name attached to it to find their present. However, Clara’s string takes her beyond her world into a magical land with a castle, fairy, and so much more.

Concept map of the Four Realms

Bringing the Realms to life:

  • To help make each realm feel real and purposeful, production designer, Guy Hendrix Dyas wanted to create a believable world. Dyas didn’t want to build something “aesthetically pleasing without any logical backbone.”
  • His solution was to design a world from the ground up while keeping things historically accurate for 1879. Dyas says, “I tried desperately to make a logic to this entire universe, so the 5-year-old me would believe this world. I remember as a kid going to see a lot of films and not quite buying into some of these worlds because they weren’t built from the ground up as real societies.”

The Four Realms

The Palace

Concept art of the Palace in the Kingdom of the Four Realms

  • At the center of the magical world that Clara visits, is a palace. Inside is a throne room where all Four Realms can be seen branching out towards North, South, East, and West.

Land of Flowers

Concept art of The Land of the Flowers

  • This realm is the main agriculture center for the Four Realms. Residents of the Land of Flowers are farmers and beekeepers, growing wheat and plants. It’s a bright and cheerful land.
  • To bring the magic to life for the actors, real flowers were used on the set which actress Makenzie Foy commented on, “There were real flowers on set. And they would have real fruits and vegetables. It was crazy how much detail was in it. Between takes, I kept going and smelling them because they smelled so good.”

Land of Snowflakes

Concept art of the Land of Snowflakes

  • The Land of Snowflakes is the home of politicians, ice producers, and miners. Their transportation system consists mostly of sleighs and deer. Production designer, Guy Hendrix Dyas drew inspiration from 16th century German villages. He added ice to the architecture, and a new land was born.

Land of Sweets

Concept art of the Land of the Sweets

  • The idea for the Land of Sweets was inspired by the character of the Sugar Plum Fairy. Here the residents make candy for the entire realm.
  • However, what’s most interesting about creating this land is that Dyas used real candy to construct the set making it a literal “candy land!”  And while Dyas’ initial thoughts veered towards the board game Candy Land, he wanted to used historical references that were accurate to the 1800’s. To do that, he looked to Victorian era sweets and the rest is history.

The Fourth Realm

Concept art of the Fourth Realm

  • At one time it was known as the Land of Amusements that Dyas says, was the “fun fair and circus center of the world.” Now, it’s referred to as a mysterious place with a creepy feel to it. For years now, residents of the other three realms have been afraid to venture to this land.

What they’re saying:

  • Producer Mark Gordon: “We did our own version of some of the different visuals that one has seen over the years in some of the classic ballet versions.”
  • Production Designer Guy Hendrix Dyas: “It was vitally important to try my hardest to fulfill everybody’s vision of what this world would be like if they really saw it outside of a ballet stage setting.”
  • Guy Hendrix Dyas: “[We] veered away from the more traditional fairy castles and chateaus we’ve seen in recent years. There’s a strong Russian historical context to The Nutcracker, so it was a very natural aesthetic to start studying architecturally. The child in me looked at some of those gorgeous Russian buildings with all their bright colors and onion-topped towers, and I realized very quickly what I was looking at were heaps of candy and flowers.”
  • Guy Hendrix Dyas: “You’re not really sure, looking at some of these buildings, whether they are real palaces or toys in the imagination of a child”

Nutcracker and the Four Realms debuts November 2nd in theaters nationwide.