ralph breaks the internet, theblerdgurl

Remember when I got a chance to visit Disney’s animation studios in Burbank? Well, while I was there, in addition to the animators, I sat down with Ralph Breaks the Internet Co-Directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore and Producer Clark Spencer to ask them why they went back to Litwak’s Arcade to create a follow up to Wreck-It-Ralph (2012). Johnston and Moore both worked on WIR and Zootopia, two very successful animated Disney films. Since Disney animated features launch direct-to-video and on-demand sequels, I was curious as to how the team convinced Disney to grant them a sequel and why they chose to approach Ralph’s friendship/obsession with Vanellolpe the way they did. I was surprised and entertained by their responses. Read on…

ralph breaks the internet, theblerdgurl

When Ralph and Vanellope head to the internet in search of a replacement part for her game, Sugar Rush, they find themselves in the middle of Slaughter Race, an online racing game set in an apocalyptic world that’s populated by first-person players and gaming characters.  Among the core team of game characters in Slaughter Race are Felony (voice of Ali Wong), Butcher Boy (voice of Timothy Simons), Shank (voice of Gal Gadot), Little Debbie (voice of Glozell Green) and Pyro (voice of Hamish Blake) ©2018 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

 

TBG: Disney doesn’t do many cinematic sequels. Did you know right away after the success of Wreck-It-Ralph in that a sequel would get approved? Or did you have to ask for it?

Phil: Every time one movie finishes you get the opportunity to pitch some new ideas and a Ralph sequel was just sort of on the table as a ‘maybe’, but there was no story or anything. But we started thinking, wouldn’t it be interesting if a modem got plugged in at Litwak’s and Ralph decides for some reason he wants to destroy the Internet? That’s not what our movie is now, but that kind of gave us the big idea.

TBG: How has Ralph and Vanellope’s relationship grown or changed since the first movie?

Phil: I mean honestly in the last two, three years we really delved into the idea of the story that we need to tell about their friendship. It’s entirely because Ralph is sort of defining himself by helping Vanellope feels about him and Vanellope really hasn’t matured. Like she hasn’t had a moment to explore what her dreams are really beyond being a racer in Sugar Rush. What are her dreams as she starts to grow up? And that’s how we kinda decided there’s a lot more to this story.

TBG: What’s one thing that you dealt with in the first movie that you decided that you were never going to do again?

Phil: The entirety of the process. No we didn’t fix that actually, it still was painful.

Rich : He’s right though.

Phil: I think it’s always sort of best laid plans. Our first screening of this thing in-house was, “Whoah! This is great. We got it!” And it played great. We got huge laughs and then the hubris factory kicked in on the second screening. “We know this is awesome.” ”We got this”. We had these bonkers ideas that we thought were just going to work. And it was the most excruciating screening.

Rich: It’s not because people were judging it unfairly. People react how they react.

Phil: No it’s cuz it sucked.

Rich: And that’s part of the heartbreaking part of the process. Until it’s up on the screen, you think you got it. And many times, you just don’t.

TBG: The very first time you read those Princess scene pages what did you think?

Rich: I mean I remember like the session we had where we read it together and it just blew me away. It exceeded any expectation that I had for the scene. We had been talking about it for a long time and writer Pamela Ribon kind of went off for a while and wrote the stuff and she was so nervous about it. As a small group and we usually take turns kind of playing different characters. And she read the whole thing for us and she did it in all the different voices. Immediately I could see it, like I could see what it was going to be. Those are iconic characters, you know. But the DNA of it is still the same as what we had at the beginning.

Clark: We should mention that when we screened the movie for the studio, we actually choose to sit in the very back row, so we could watch people’s reaction. So there is that moment and I remember it specifically, where I knew the scene was coming up and I thought “It’s going to work or people are going to all turn their heads and look at us”. And it was so much fun to watch these people enjoy it.

Rich: Afterwards people [from the studio] even said “I didn’t know if this was going to work. I didn’t even know what you guys were thinking about with this. But man, this is great. You have to keep this in the movie”. It was never a fight. It was always like, we love this.

 

ralphbreakstheinterenet, theblerfgurl

In the film, Vanellope encounters and then befriends the Disney princesses. Filmmakers invited the original voice talent to return to the studio to help bring their characters to life, including Sarah Silverman (Vanellope in “Ralph Breaks the Internet”), Auli‘i Cravalho (“Moana”), Kristen Bell (Anna in “Frozen”), Idina Menzel (Elsa in “Frozen”), Kelly MacDonald (Merida in “Brave”), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in “Tangled”), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in “The Princess and the Frog”), Ming-Na Wen (“Mulan”), Irene Bedard (“Pocahontas”), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in “Aladdin”), Paige O’Hara (Belle in “Beauty and the Beast”), and Jodi Benson (Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”). ©2018 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

 

TBG: Whose idea was it to keep Pamela Ribon’s voice and not recast Snow White? Did other voice actors just not work out?

Rich: I think we just thought she did such a good job.

Clark: Sometimes you have those moments where you realize that you could bring someone else in, but when someone has landed everything perfectly, then why? Why try to change that chemistry or why try to change the DNA of what’s working in the scene? And she was great.

Phil: Pam, myself, Rich and Josie Trinidad, the four of us do I’d say 99 point nine percent of the scratch voices in the movie.

Rich: Sometimes, our performance as a case with Pam’s just works.

TBG: I heard some of the scratch recordings and Phil you do a very good John C. Reilly by the way.

Phil: Oh he hates it. He doesn’t like to listen to [my scratch voice] while we’re recording at all. {Imitates Reilly’s voice] “Do I gotta listen to you do dumb cartoon voice a me?” “Yeah John, you kinda do.

TBG: What’s one thing that you dealt with in the first movie that you decided that you were never going to do again?

Phil: The entirety of the process. Actually no, we didn’t fix that, it was still very painful.

Rich : He’s right though.

Phil: I think it’s always sort of best-laid plans. Our first screening of this thing in-house was, “Whoah! This is great. We got it!” And it played great. We got huge laughs and then the hubris factory kicked in on the second screening. “We know this is awesome.” ”We got this”. We had these bonkers ideas that we thought were just going to work. And it was the most excruciating screening.

Rich: It’s not because people were judging it unfairly. People react how they react.

Phil: No it’s cuz it sucked.

Rich: And that’s part of the heartbreaking part of the process. Until it’s up on the screen, you think you. Got It. And you just don’t.

 

ralph breaks the interenet, theblerdgurl

Ralph and Vanellope find themselves in need of making some serious cash in order to purchase a replacement steering wheel for her game, Sugar Rush. Fortunately, a Netizen named Yesss—the head algorithm of a trend-making website called BuzzzTube—has a plan. Yesss, who has her finger on the internet’s fast-paced pulse, helps make Ralph the next viral video sensation. Featuring the voices of Taraji P. Henson as Yesss, and Flula Borg (YouTube personality DJ Flula) as her assistant Maybe. ©2018 Disney. All Rights Reserved.

 

TBG: What’s one thing that you want everybody to take from this film? What’s one thing to want everybody to walk away with?

Clark: The main thing for me is the “Comments Scene”. I think that is something that I think we all are proud of. Because coming off of Zootopia, as we started to delve into the world of the Internet, we thought that we do need to put that balance of the world out there, of what is this internet and open potentially the opportunity for parents with kids about the complicated parts of it. Because kids everyday use it and they go in way more naive than people who are older and understand a little bit more what exists in that. So I think if we can do that piece of it in the storytelling and have it feel organic and I’ll be very proud.

Rich: The simple thing for me is that the movie has a theme of change and that life is change. The only constant is change and all friendships change, but the good ones can get stronger because of that change. So you learn to love the things about each other that evolve and change and grow. And that kids can learn that lesson with their friends. Parents can learn that lesson in terms of letting go of their kids and just that. I think that to me is, is the, is the key

Phil: Ralph and his relationship to Vanellope in this movie begins to become toxic. And it gets to a point where he’s very possessive of his best friend, he doesn’t even know that he’s gotten to that point. I think a lot of people go down a road where they think that they can control another person’s life and Ralph rises above that. He’s committing that sin but soon realizes that he is not her God. It’s like she has her path and now he has his, but that’s okay. I think that’s a really good lesson, especially for young people. We’re not each other’s gods. We all have different paths, but that doesn’t mean we can’t be best friends and want the best for one another.

Ralph Breaks the Internet Starring John C. Reilly (Ralph), Sarah Silverman (Vanellope), Taraji P. Henson (Yesss) and Gal Gadot (Shank) is in theaters now.