Directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, written by Johnston and Pamela Ribon, and produced by Clark Spencer, Ralph Breaks the Internet, the sequel to the hugely popular nostalgia-filled Wreck-It Ralph, will see best friends Ralph (voiced by John C. Reilly) and Vanellope von Schweetz (voiced by Sarah Silverman) leave the safety of Litwak’s video arcade behind, as they venture into the world of the internet in search of a way to repair Sugar Rush. If they can navigate their way through the world wide web and find the part to her game that will get it turned back on, Vanellope can return to her video game and her life with Ralph can go back to normal.
At an early preview day held at Walt Disney Animation Studios, members of the press were invited to get glimpses into the journey that Ralph and Vanellope will be on next, some of the new characters that they’ll cross paths with, and the evolution in technology since the first film. Collider also got the opportunity to sit down with directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, as well as producer Clark Spencer, to talk about the simple human truths in the characters that people were able to identify with in the first film, how hard it is to make an animated feature work, the advancement in animation technology that allowed them to do things in the sequel that they couldn’t do in the original film, Easter eggs, current gamer culture, the challenges of staying on or ahead of trend, and the unfortunate lack of a Wreck-It Ralph presence at the Disney theme parks.
Check out the interview below and click here for 20 things I learned from the press day.
Collider: The little bits we’ve gotten to see of Ralph Breaks the Internet look awesome! I’m so excited to see the full movie!
PHIL JOHNSTON: We only recently fell in love with it, two months ago. We were finally like, “I’m okay with this movie. It’s pretty good.” It’s just so hard to make it work, as all of these are.
That’s a great way to sell your movie to people!
JOHNSTON: Now, I love it! It was just hard to make it.
What feedback did you hear from audiences and critics about Wreck-It Ralph, that you addressed, or at least tried to, in the sequel?
JOHNSTON: My brother-in-law sent me a sermon. It’s a true story. There was a church that the pastor gave a sermon that Ralph had evoked Jesus, at the end of the first movie, by sacrificing himself, and that was very surprising. It wasn’t the intent, but I was very pleased that it had reached an audience that was able to see that version of the story as a positive thing. That was surprising.
RICH MOORE: I thought that was so great. I was like, “Wow, this movie is cutting across for kids, teenagers, and people who like video games and pop culture, but to hear that a sermon was written around it, of Ralph’s journey being one of sacrifice and selflessness, we were like, “Okay, we have something here.” It was funny.
JOHNSTON: It was surprising because we’re such goofballs, but there is a profound message, and there are simple human truths within the characters that made us at least want to keep living with them.
That’s a bridge you probably never imagined that you would be crossing with this movie.
JOHNSTON: But, that’s the beauty of it.
MOORE: But, here we are.
JOHNSTON: The world with these movies gives you such a large reach. Different people are always going to see movies differently, depending on where they live and how they grew up, but the fact that they reach so many people, it’s a great gift and a great responsibility.
How have advancements in animation technology allowed you to do things in the sequel that you couldn’t do, in the original film?
CLARK SPENCER: Hyperion continues evolve. When Big Hero 6 came out, they used Hyperion, which was a new lighting system that really transformed the amount of information we could put into a single frame, and also the detail of every single thing. If you look at Ralph and Vanellope from the first film, and you see them in the second film, they look the same, but with the level of the detail that exists in the clothing, it’s unbelievable the level of detail that can exist. The great thing is that there’s about a hundred people within the technology department here at Disney Animation, and they can solve any problem put forth to them. So, if the filmmakers aren’t really given restraint at the beginning, and they can just think about the world and what they want to create, we’ll figure it out from there. We’ve created the idea that we’re going to go internet, but can we actually build the internet? We don’t know, but somehow it always seems to come together. You just have to let it find its way. What I think the team has created is phenomenal.
If you couldn’t build the internet, you would have had to reimagine the title of the movie?
JOHNSTON: Yeah, exactly. Ralph Gets a Sandwich.
MOORE: Ralph Takes a Nap.
JOHNSTON: A vending machine is plugged in, and he goes and gets a sandwich. That’s a good idea!
MOORE: We’re bringing a sandwich back to the arcade!
Wreck-It Ralph featured a lot of video game titles, characters, and Easter eggs. How does the sequel compare to the original, in that regard?
MOORE: [Phil] watched the first movie a few years ago, and I watched it six or nine months ago, and the tone of the movie is the same. This one definitely moves a lot faster. It’s like the first movie, but with like 75% more packed in. It’s a wild one, but somehow it holds together.
JOHNSTON: There are the arcade cameos, in the first act of the movie, when they’re still at Litwak’s. And then, there’s all kind of other stuff, once we get into the internet, specific to different websites and signs, and things like that. And then, there’s the Oh My Disney site, which is when all bets are off. There are some very obscure references in there.
So, people should just pay to go see the movie like a hundred times, to make sure they catch all of that?
MOORE: Absolutely! I like that answer.