Last month, That’s It LA received an early preview of Ralph Breaks The Internet, the animated sequel to Wreck-It Ralph. While the first film took a look at the lives of arcade characters when the arcade closes, the sequel will take a trip to the internet, much to the joy of Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) and terror of Wreck-It Ralph (John C. Reilly).
During our preview, we got to see a little sneak peek at some of the footage from the upcoming sequel, and speak to directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, as well as producer Clark Spencer. During the presentation, they answered questions about how a scene is put together, the obstacles Ralph has to overcome in the sequel, how the team addressed the fleeting moments of the Internet, and so much more.
Ralph Breaks The Internet takes place right where the film left off, with Ralph continuing to wreck the building in Fix-It Felix and Vanellope racing across the finish line in Sugar Rush. Everything continues to run smoothly until Mr. Litwak installs a WiFi router in Game Central, a surge protector that all the arcade games are plugged into where game characters are able to congregate.
When a player accidentally breaks a part from the Sugar Rush game, Vanellope and her Sugar Rush friends are at risk of losing their game because the company that makes the game went out of business. So the customers gather together to find a replacement part on eBay, only to discover that it is out of Mr. Litwak’s price range.
Crushed that she could be without a home Vanellope accepts defeat, until Ralph says they should go to the internet to find the missing part on this eBay. Excited, Vanellope takes him up on the offer. While Vanellope is excited about the journey from Mr. Litwak, Ralph seemingly regreats the decision. However, they come to find out that the Internet is much bigger than they originally thought.
So when they find this eBay, they believe that it is nothing more than a game where the goal to win is to shout a bigger number than the last person not realizing that they would have to pay for the item in the end. So when they find this replacement part, they shout an extremely high number and believe they have won.
Unfortunately, they come to discover that they have no money to pay for the item and if they don’t come up with it in the allot amount of days, they forfeit the item. This is where Yasss (Taraji P. Henson) offers to help. As the head of BuzzzTube, trend-making website, she suggests that the two make a viral video to come up with the money.
What comes after will have a profound affect on both Vanellope and Ralph, as they will discover that just as nice as the Internet can be, it can be equally toxic.
Sequencing A Scene From Start To Finish
When it comes to creating a sequence from start to finish, Johnston says it all starts from the roughest of hand-drawn images and storyboards. During this time, many of the crew are providing scratch voices (voices that will eventually be replaced by the talent). After that it goes to layout, which is technically blocking of a scene – basically working out where the character moves in relation to the camera.
And even then, that is a period of years before it can go into animation. And when it does, it is not handled like you may think. “Different scenes go into production at different times,” Johnston said of the princess dressing room scene. “This particular one, we had going about a year ago into animation, because we showed it at D23 Expo. But from start to finish its often three years.”
Making The Internet Feel Like The World Wide Web
In order for the Internet to feel more like the Internet, real-world websites have to be used. However, the first concept image showed plays on the websites. However, because of copyright, Spencer says they will be able to use the actual website’s name in the sequel. “So we didn’t approach them, we actually said to ourselves, ‘Let’s make the Internet be the Internet we know and put in everything we know about it, and that included going to our different parts of our company around the world and saying to them ‘give us brands from your own parts of the world,’” Spencer said. “We wanted the web to feel like the World Wide Web.”
He added, “So there is a little bit of everything and not a case where somebody said they did not want to participate because we did not actually have to go and ask for permission.”
Pitching A Princess Palooza To The Original Cast
The infamous Disney princess scene was always going to be a part of the film. However, staying true to the Ralph Breaks The Internet’s self-deprecation, Moore and Johnston had to figure out how to have that scene that was able to poke fun at itself while also pay respect to the princesses that are involved. Once they figured it out, they made the pitch to every actress who voiced the Disney princess.
“Every single actress that we went to loved the idea and when they came in, helped elevate the comedy, as an actor does, or scene, as an actor does,” Moore said. “They would point out, ‘Well my character wouldn’t say it like that, she would say it a little bit like that.’ It added a little bit of that extra layer of authenticity to the princesses because as we get to work with each one of them, it became apparent to us that they really embody to characters. Just beyond the voice obviously.
The actresses would then sit down with the animators to talk about their approach to playing the characters. Although this was informative for the animators, for some, it was a dream come true as they were able to sit with the characters that helped inspire them to become animators.
The scene came together thanks in part to the Oh My Disney site – think of it as a Buzzfeed of Disney. “It started as this idea of wouldn’t it be funny if somehow, Ralph was taking one of those quizzes or tests of like “Are you an Anna or an Elsa?” And Vanellope getting into an argument over it.
They figure they would turn the Oh My Disney site into a physical space where it would be turned into a great set piece for the sequel. “Why not have fun at our own expense of the characters that are foibles, and what makes them weird and what’s kind of crazy about them,” Moore asked.
For them, they knew that Ralph and Vanellope are the misfits within the Disney pantheon, and they wanted to explore that world and see what her reaction would be to Disney princesses.
The scene was tested out a number of times. This is done to work out some of the kinks and what could possibly make the scene better than it already is. Even then, the scene can either live or die if it does not test well. “We started to see it on boards we said to ourselves, ‘This is one of the great things about animation, we get to test our idea multiple times over the years, so let’s just go for it. Let’s go for the scene itself. Let’s not at all inhibit what we think is going to work for the storytelling and the comedy and screen it. It will live or die in that screening,’ Spencer said. “And it played huge.”
The team was essentially worried that such a scene would be met with resistance. However, Spencer said “Rich [Moore] really threads that line where we would be satirical and funny about ourselves and when we would be respectful of the characters.” And because it tested well, everyone was fully behind the scene. The scene will also be very intregal to the overall story Vanellope’s character development.
Keeping Up With The Internet
The Internet is constantly changing. New memes and gifs are being created at a rapid pace and pop culture references could appear out of know where. “We knew when we first started working on the movie that the tropes of the Internet would not be the same that day as when the movie came out,” Moore said. “There could be moments where people would come up to us and say, ‘You know what you got to put in there is Ken Bone. He’s huge on the Internet. This guy is big.’ And I was like, ‘No one remembers Ken Bone today.’ It’s so fleeting. So we decided we need to concentrate on the pillars of the Internet: social media, shopping, entertainment.”
Changes From Then To Now
The draft of the film does not always end up being the final cut. Johnston says that Ralph Breaks The Internet went through multiple changes throughout the animation and testing process. While the first film has Ralph accepting his role as a bad guy, the sequel will see him in a dreadful world where someone who defines himself by how other people think of him could react very badly to a trolling comment.
“So we approached in this way, 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,” Moore said. “But she can experience it and she can practice it and she can learn from it. That was our goal with this movie, that Ralph can encounter these things and he can embody them and fall prey to them but ultimately we want for him is not to solve it because 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 to rise above it.”
Fix-It Felix and Sergeant Calhoun will act as parental figures for the Sugar Rush arcade game characters as Ralph and Vanellope journey to the Internet in search of a replacement part for the Sugar Rush game since the company went out of business.
Not all princesses will be involved in the film. While C3PO does make an appearance in the Ralph Breaks The Internet, Princess Leia will not be a part of the much talked about princess scene. But there is a very good reason for that. “We decided we are going to use the canonized group of Disney princesses,” Moore said. “Not that we don’t love Princess Leia, Kida, Meg, or Esmeralda, but we decided we were going to go with the official princesses.”
Marvel will also be well represented, despite the fact that most of the heroes of the MCU are now piles of dust. Avatars will be coslaying as some of the Marvel superheroes.