In August, we got to see a sneak preview of Ralph Breaks The Internet, the sequel to Wreck-It Ralph, at Disney Animation Studios in Burbank California. It was there that we got to see how the story team, environment artists, character designers, and screenwriters took on the monumental task of putting the sequel.
But one thing the sequel will be doing something that no other Disney animated film has ever done before is bringing 14 of their most princesses together in one room for one ultimate hangout. The much talked about scene, that was previewed at D23 and some of the newer trailers for the sequel, will show these princesses in a whole new light as they will be able to let loose and have fun.
In the film, Vanellope finds herself in the Disney princess dressing room of the Oh My Disney website and comes across princesses like Moana, Anna and Elsa, Tiana, Mulan, Rapunzel, Ariel, Belle, Snow White, Cinderella, and so much more. They discover that she too is a princess, and they bond over the fact that their “problems got solved because a big strong man showed up.”
ThatsItLA was able to talk to the co-writer Pamela Ribon, and Ami Thompson (art director, characters) and Kira Lehtomaki (head of animation) to talk about the work that went into bringing these beloved characters into the world of the internet.
Check out the interview below.
ThatsItLA: Since the Princess sequence has been in the film since the very first screening, I was wondering if there were different versions of it or was the one we saw the definitive one?
Pamela Ribon: As the screenings have gone on over time and the story changed, the scene had to adjust in order to stay in the movie. Because there are some versions where I don’t know you necessarily need that princess scene anymore. We had to keep it, so we’ve been trying to make it work. So there are changes that will be a little different in the end than what you saw you in the today and the D23 Expo.
ThatsItLA: Were there any rules in regards to what the princesses could do or were you given free range to let them do what they want and bring them out of their shell?
Kira Lehtomaki: “No. I can’t even think of one, other than, you know, when we work with them sometimes they would say, ‘I would do this,’ or ‘I would say that instead,’ but it was all in service of their character. Like, ‘How do you say thingamabob like she says thingamabob?’ even if they would say ‘You guys are ladies,’ I think we defaulted to Vanellope, and then we would be like ‘But this princess would say…’”
ThatsItLA: And did that come from the actresses and storyboard artists?
Kira Lehtomaki: Mostly the actors said something like that. But everyone was adding kind of their favorite thing that they know in their heart, and what them means to be Ariel.
Ami Thompson: But we also reference the original films themselves. So we kind of like carefully expanded our ideas from the original.
ThatsItLA: Talk about some of the challenges of staying true to the design of the princesses as they some of them made that transition from 2D to 3D.
Ami Thompson: From a design standpoint, 2D design, getting carried over to 3D was really challenging for designers to do. We wanted to make it as appealing as possible just like the original character as well. There was a lot like, “How do we make this appealing” but at the same time we were all really excited about “oh what will they look like once they get converted over to CG” so it was also a fun challenge at the same time.
ThatsItLA: This is the first time that almost all of the living actresses who voiced these princesses have been on screen, what was probably the most exciting thing about it and what frightened you the most?
Pamela Ribon: I guess the most scary part thing would be told no. Like a flat out, and pack up, no. Like “I don’t know you think you are.” There’s that element of you are working with other people’s designs and characters, and what other people love about these characters, so you want to make sure you are being respectful to everyone. Not just the creative but also – we do think of these people as real. Yeah, the fans, of course, these are people who love these characters, so asking them to go along smoothly with that is a little scary. That’s why we get nervous every time someone new is about to see it and we are like “I hope you love it.” Because, more than people saying “I don’t like it,” I think the worst one is someone being like “no,” you know what I mean? If they were passionate, most often it would be because “I feel so strongly about this particular thing,” because the legacy is heavy. So it’s important to us to do these characters justice.
Pamela: Isn’t that the fun of mashups and stuff, too, where you are like “oh, how would these people think if they were walking in this world,” which is a lot of what is so great about the first movie. It’s that “Oh, here we are, I know I’ve been here, but now I’ve never been here, but it always feels I’ve always been here.” And that’s the feeling inside the Internet that we are hoping to achieve as well. Like, “You’ve never been in the internet before but this feels like what you think what it would be.” So this scene is the same thing. In your head, you play with these dolls…
Kira Lehtomaki: Not in my head. [Laughs] In reality.
ThatsItLA: And when making the Oh My Disney more tangible, what was running through your head to make sure that you represented the site well?
Kira Lehtomaki: There are so many things that we missed that we don’t have time for and there’s stuff where you are like “oh, that was going to be funny.” But there are two things going on, “does this feel real and relatable and do you need this for the movie? Do you need this for the story?” If it isn’t the two or “this is a weird tangent we are taking” we don’t usually have time. And if it is just something we love but doesn’t necessarily propel Ralph and Vanellope through the story, it will get cut. Sometimes it would hang in there for a long time, though, through screenings, because we love it so much. But yeah.
RALPH BREAKS THE INTERNET arrives in theatres everywhere on November 21st!