Ralph Breaks the Internet welcomes back to the big screen video-game bad guy Ralph and fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz. This time, they leave Litwak's video arcade behind, venturing into the uncharted, expansive and fast-paced world of the internet- which can be both incredibly exciting and overwhelming, depending on who you ask.
The follow-up to 2012's "Wreck-It Ralph" marks the first feature-length theatrical sequel from Walt Disney Animation Studios since 2000's "Fantasia 2000", which was a sequel to 1940's "Fantasia." The only other sequel in the Disney Animation canon is 1990's "The Rescuers Down Under." Ralph Breaks the Internet is WDAS' first-ever sequel to be created by the original film's writing/directing team. What is it about the characters of Ralph and Vanellope that called for an encore?
"Ralph and Vanellope are imperfect characters", says Academy Award(r)-winning director Rich Moore (Zootopia), who directed the original film. "But we love them because of their flaws. Their friendship is so genuine-the chemistry between them so engaging-that I think we were all anxious to know more about these characters."
Phil Johnston (co-writer Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia, writer Cedar Rapids) was one of the screenwriters on Wreck-It Ralph and is back as a writer and also a director. "Ralph and Vanellope had only known each other for a short time, yet they became best friends and we love them for that", says Johnston. "But it didn't feel like their story was over- there were more adventures to be had. And Vanellope, in particular, was starting to come into her own."
When Wreck-It Ralph opened on Nov. 2, 2012, it turned in the highest opening weekend ever for a Walt Disney Animation Studios film at the time. Producer Clark Spencer (Zootopia, Wreck-It Ralph, Bolt, Lilo & Stitch) won the PGA Award for outstanding producer of an animated theatrical motion picture, and the film won five Annie Awards, including best animated feature, director, screenplay and actor. It was also nominated for an Oscar(r) and Golden Globe(r) for best animated feature. Says Spencer, "I think people really responded to the fact that it didn't sit within the typical Disney canon-people liked that we were pushing the boundaries and loved that we were going into a world that, though set in a retro arcade, felt completely modern for a Disney animated film."
After wrapping Wreck-It Ralph, Moore, Johnston and Spencer all switched gears, creating Zootopia, 2016's Oscar(r)-winning animated feature film that introduced moviegoers to a vast modern mammal metropolis and its animal inhabitants. Moore helmed the film with fellow director Byron Howard; Johnston was co-writer (with Jared Bush) and Spencer produced. Says Johnston, "'Zootopia' really showed us that you can push the tone and the emotional depth of a story pretty far with a family audience and it will resonate as long as it's truthful.
"While 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' will make people laugh, I think some of the emotional struggles that Ralph and Vanellope go through in this movie are pretty intense and complicated", continues Johnston. "We're exploring the reality of all relationships, which come with ups and downs. Friendships are tested from time to time, and Ralph and Vanellope have to navigate the complexity of theirs-while attempting to navigate the vast and often intimidating internet."
And the internet, says Moore, is massive. "We came away from 'Zootopia' with the ability to build a world as big as that city-with its distinct districts that were all fully realised and uniquely populated on a scale that was mind-blowing", he says. "The technology here has taken a huge step forward in the last few years and we wanted to keep that going with 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' since we are dealing with the world of the internet. It's not only big, it's dense with characters and places to go. This is the most complex animated film we've ever made in terms of locations, characters, heavy design and assets."
Directed by Moore and Johnston, and produced by Spencer, Ralph Breaks the Internet welcomes back favourite cast and characters introduced six years ago, including John C. Reilly, who provides the voice of Ralph, and Sarah Silverman, who returns as the voice of Vanellope. Lending a virtual hand to Ralph and Vanellope is Shank, voiced by Gal Gadot, a tough-as-nails driver from a gritty online auto-racing game called Slaughter Race, a place Vanellope wholeheartedly embraces-so much so that Ralph worries he may lose the only friend he's ever had. Yesss, voiced by Taraji P. Henson, the head algorithm and the heart and soul of the trend-making site BuzzzTube, makes Ralph a viral sensation. Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch return as the voices of Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun, respectively, and Alan Tudyk was called on to voice a search engine named KnowsMore-literally a know-it-all-who runs a search bar and helps Ralph and Vanellope on their quest.
The film features a screenplay by Phil Johnston and Pamela Ribon, and story by Moore, Johnston, Jim Reardon, Ribon and Josie Trinidad. The soundtrack includes original songs
"Zero", written and performed by Imagine Dragons; "A Place Called Slaughter Race", performed by Silverman and Gadot with music by Disney Legend Alan Menken and lyrics by Johnston and Tom MacDougall, and a score by composer Henry Jackman. Julia Michaels performs a pop-version of "A Place Called Slaughter Race" called "In This Place", which is the second end-credits song.
Ralph Breaks the Internet takes Ralph and Vanellope to a vast, unfamiliar world with endless possibilities. When filmmakers put themselves in the characters' shoes, they realised Ralph and Vanellope would have completely different points of view when it came to the internet. Says director Rich Moore, "They're like a couple of small-town kids who venture into the big city. One falls in love with the city, while the other one can't wait to go home."
"Ralph is in love with the life that he has", adds director Phil Johnston. "But Vanellope is ready for a change-she wants to spread her wings a little. That creates conflict within their friendship, which becomes the heart of the story."
"I love that the film is about change", says producer Clark Spencer. "Two best friends are about to realize that the world won't always be the same. The internet is the perfect setting, really, because it's all about change-things change by the second."
The story kicks off in the arcade, where Ralph and Vanellope have been living harmoniously-fulfilling their duties in their games during the day and hanging out together in their neighboring arcade games at night. "Vanellope is lamenting the fact that her game is getting a little boring", says Johnston. "So, Ralph takes it upon himself to amplify the excitement in Sugar Rush. And Ralph being Ralph-it doesn't go exactly as planned."
Ralph's shenanigans trigger a chain of events that culminate with a player in the arcade accidentally breaking the steering wheel off Vanellope's game. When Litwak learns that a replacement part would cost more than the game makes in a year, he has no choice but to unplug Sugar Rush and sell it for parts. "The part they need to fix the game is at a place on the internet called eBay", says Pamela Ribon, who co-wrote the screenplay with Johnston. "Ralph and Vanellope have never heard of the internet, much less eBay, but Litwak has installed a router, so the arcade is actually online for the first time. They decide to take the leap into this unknown world and travel to the internet in order to find the steering wheel and save Vanellope's game.
"The internet strikes them as loud, fast, crazy and completely unpredictable", continues Ribon. "Ralph is nervous and uncomfortable, and Vanellope is smitten, of course."
Ralph wasn't the only one who was overwhelmed at the idea of exploring the internet from the inside out. According to director of story Jim Reardon, the process of setting the story
in the World Wide Web was intimidating at first. "It's still intimidating", he laughs. "It never stopped being intimidating. We looked at how we could make the internet relatable on a human level-like how Game Central Station aka the power strip mirrored a train station in the first movie. In 'Ralph Breaks the Internet,' any person who uses the internet has a little avatar version of themselves that does their business for them. It's like an old Tex Avery joke about the light in the refrigerator-how does it go off when I shut the door? A little door opens and a tiny man comes out and turns the switch off.
"But we didn't want to make the movie about the internet", continues Reardon. "It's the place where the movie takes place, but the story is about the relationship between Ralph and Vanellope."
Head of story Josie Trinidad adds, "The first movie ends with the idea that these two misfits are kindred spirits-they have the same sense of humour. We didn't want to just give the audience more of that friendship-we have to see that relationship grow."
Ralph Breaks the Internet features both fresh and familiar faces with an extraordinary voice cast that brings humour and emotional depth to the all-new story.
According to producer Clark Spencer, recording this cast was unique, particularly because one of the actors preferred to liven up his recording sessions. "John C. Reilly likes to record with the other actors", says Spencer. "Most actors record by themselves in animation, but John feels that he performs better if he's acting off of someone. He likes to riff, so he and Sarah [Silverman] recorded together every single time."
Adds director Rich Moore, "John and Sarah have such great chemistry between them and it really comes across in their performances. Ralph and Vanellope inherited that chemistry."
Director Phil Johnston says their rapport extends beyond the funny scenes. "When they were asked to do a more emotional scene, it was raw. The tears were genuine. They found the emotion just standing across from each other. That's probably the thing I'm most proud of in this movie: the emotional depth and complexity that Ralph and Vanellope experience."
Ralph is the same ham-fisted video-game bad guy with a heart. These days, his heart is full since befriending fellow misfit Vanellope von Schweetz. He treasures their friendship and will do anything to help his buddy-but his efforts don't always turn out like he hopes. So when Vanellope's game is busted due to his heavy-handed attempt to liven things up for her, Ralph takes it upon himself to track down the broken part-even though it means venturing to a scary new world called the internet. Fortunately, with Vanellope by his side, anything is possible as far as Ralph is concerned. "When Ralph sees Vanellope's infatuation with the internet, however, he fears she's slipping away", says director of story Jim Reardon. "And Ralph being Ralph, he doesn't handle it very well."
"Ralph doesn't always make the best decisions", says Moore. "He tends to be his own worst enemy. If anyone should carelessly find himself in the shady part of the internet-the deep web-it'll be Ralph. He might be there for the right reasons, but we all know he's bound to screw things up."
John C. Reilly once again provides the voice of Ralph. "Ralph is a childlike character", says Reilly. "He's unaware of the outside world. So in coming back to the character, it was important to remember his naivete and his innocence.
"It clicked pretty fast, though", continues Reilly, who reunited with several cast members and filmmakers from the first film. "There's a level of comfort there. We found the fun and mischievousness from the get-go."
"John is the best", says Johnston. "Everything is honest. Everything he brings to the character is real. If he doesn't feel it, he doesn't do it. But that means that whatever he brings is going to be great. There's a lot of John in Ralph."
According to animation supervisor Justin Sklar, bringing the character back to life wasn't the slam dunk it would seem, as technology has changed since the first film was released. "We spent a fair amount of time figuring out how we were going to make Ralph feel like he did in the first movie, while taking advantage of all of the knowledge that we've gained", he says. "We ultimately rebuilt him. He has crow's-feet now. His fists are different-more graphic. We pushed the angular design across the board-his shoulders and hips are more square-shaped."
Director of cinematography layout Nathan Detroit Warner says that the writers and animators did such a spectacular job making audiences emotionally connect with the characters, his team utilized live-action camera techniques to support and enhance their efforts. "I wanted to do our part by bringing people into a world that they recognized", he says. "I wanted people to feel like Ralph belongs in a live-action world. I wanted people to imagine this giant, 7-foot-tall person lives in the real world.
"So we went to great lengths to make sure that our lens duplicated what happens in the real world", Warner continues. "We did something called lens breathing, which is when you switch your focus between objects stacked in the frame and the lens physically adjusts a bit and gets wider or narrower. In live action, that little adjustment lets our eyes recognize something has changed, which is important because it's often happening during an emotional beat."
Warner's arsenal also expanded to include other live-action-inspired tools like lens flares and lens curvature, paying special attention to where the eyes go in any given sequence.
Vanellope von Schweetz still sports her wicked sense of humour, razor-sharp tongue and her best buddy Ralph. She also maintains her outcast-making glitch that once inhibited her racing ability but ultimately became her super power. Having overthrown King Candy and taken her rightful position as princess of Sugar Rush, Vanellope promptly ditched her royal gown in favor of her signature cozy style and joined the ranks of the Sugar Rush racers. Although she frequently tops the leaderboard these days, she finds herself getting a little bored of the same tracks and predictable competitors. "Vanellope begins to develop bigger goals", says director Phil Johnston. "Her eyes are on the horizon. Once she realizes there's a big world out there, she wants to see more of it."
Adds head of story Josie Trinidad, "When her game breaks, Vanellope is left wondering, 'If I don't have my game, who am I?' Her quest to get the steering wheel to save her game is what motivates her to venture to the internet. She has no idea what she's about to experience."
Sarah Silverman returns as the voice of Vanellope. "She craves excitement", says Silverman of her character. "The internet just blows her mind. She's profoundly interested and excited, while Ralph is more reticent.
"She meets Shank, who's the leader of a racing game called Slaughter Race", continues Silverman. "And Shank becomes a mentor to Vanellope-she takes her under her wing. But that may be threatening to Ralph."
"Sarah Silverman truly is Vanellope", says director Rich Moore. "There's no one else who could play that character."
According to animation supervisor Dave Hardin, Silverman provided animators with lots of reference. "Sarah has a really distinct mouth shape that showcases her two front teeth", he says. "We tried to build that into the character so that she feels real, familiar-particularly because Vanellope has a heavy emotional load to carry in this film."
Silverman says audiences will be surprised by the story. "I think kids and adults will be moved emotionally", she says. "It's so existential. I love how it transcends age and has such depth."
One defining aspect of Vanellope that's back in bigger and better ways is her glitch. According to head of effects animation Cesar Velazquez, there are two types of glitches in "Ralph Breaks the Internet." "One is when she's nervous and she glitches in place as a reflection of her emotional state", he says. "The other glitch is when she's more in control and wants to teleport to a different place-she uses it while racing a lot. That emerged at the end of the first film, but it's her primary glitch now."
Velazquez and his team had to rebuild Vanellope's glitch since the studio's renderer, Hyperion, was introduced after "Wreck-It Ralph" debuted.
Shank is a tough and talented driver in an intense online racing game called Slaughter Race-a gritty, no-holds-barred street-racing contest with dangerous obstacles at every turn. Shank takes her role as the leader of the online game's crew of tough-as-nails drivers very seriously and doesn't like to lose. When Vanellope finds herself in a street race with Shank, her Sugar Rush driving skills are put to the test-and Shank is impressed. She offers the kind of big-sisterly guidance Vanellope craves. Shank's approach to racing-and life in general-opens Vanellope's eyes to the limitless possibilities of the internet and the excitement of a new world that feels like home to her.
"She is the coolest character in this world of Slaughter Race", says director Rich Moore. "Shank's lived a lot, she's seen a lot, yet she's got nothing but kindness in her heart- that's the duality of that character."
Filmmakers called on Gal Gadot to give voice to Shank. "Shank is amazing at driving cars and has this bad-girl vibe to her", says Gadot. "But as the movie goes on you realize how fun, wise and warm she really is on the inside, which is what I like most about her."
According to director Phil Johnston, Gadot adds extraordinary dimension to the character. "There's so much texture to her voice and so much living in her voice", he says. "If Ralph is Vanellope's big-brother figure, we wanted a big-sister figure. We wanted someone that Vanellope would look up to, and Gal is definitely someone kids-and a lot of adults I know-aspire to emulate. I can't imagine anyone else embodying that part."
Dave Komorowski, head of characters, says Shank-in all her subtlety-is technically and visually decked out. "She has fully functioning clothing-a t-shirt, a hoodie that zips and a leather jacket on top of that", he says. "Plus, she has big hoop earrings. And we run wind through her hair the whole time she's racing."
Kira Lehtomaki, co-head of animation, adds that Shank's look was inspired by another character. "There's such a cool dynamic with Shank", she says. "She was actually designed to mirror Vanellope-they both have hoodies, for example-yet Shank comes from an entirely different world. She's very controlled. To be strong and intimidating, she doesn't have to move fast or have extreme poses. In her stillness, she comes to life."
Hand-drawn animation supervisor Mark Henn agrees. "With Shank", he says, "less is best."
Slaughter Race Crew has Shank's back at every turn. These fierce and fun racers include the following.
- Felony, voiced by Ali Wong, isn't afraid to question authority, even if it's Shank
- Butcher Boy, voiced by Timothy Simons, is big and loud, and at the same time thoughtful, curious, vegan and a TED Talk aficionado
- Pyro, voiced by Hamish Blake, gets his nickname from his affinity for flames. "Hamish is one of the funniest working comedians in Australia", says Moore
- Little Debbie, voiced by GloZell Green, is the "good kid" of the crew, according to Johnston. "She's the counterpart to Pyro", he says. "We think of them as siblings- always picking on each other. GloZell is known for big, broad comedy online, so she may have been surprised to play Little Debbie."
According to animation supervisor Robert Huth, Slaughter Race wasn't intended to reflect the latest video game technology. "They're getting so good in terms of animation and technical achievement", he says. "We didn't want it to be that realistic. We wanted to hit home that this is a video game, so we had to go back to the early 2000s racing games when the animation was more simple."
All of the Slaughter Race characters were animated with this style in mind. "Shank is the most polished", says Huth. "Her crew isn't quite as refined, and the background characters are even less so. That goes along with what we found in those early racing games."
Yesss is the head algorithm of a trend-making website called BuzzzTube. If it's hip, if it's trendy, if it's now, Yesss has seen it first and shared it with the world. With an eye for the next viral video sensation, Yesss has her finger on the internet's fast-paced pulse, but that doesn't stop her from helping Ralph and Vanellope when they find themselves in serious financial debt to eBay. If anyone knows how to work the web, it's Yesss. "She anticipates the next best thing", says director Rich Moore. "What's hot one second might not be the next. And every time we see her, she's wearing a different outfit with a trendy new hairstyle. Yesss personifies the ever-evolving nature of the internet and she's really funny, too."
According to Ami Thompson, art director-characters, Yesss has a wardrobe everyone covets. "Yesss is on the cutting edge of fashion", says Thompson. "Her look is a little futuristic. We gave her a very cool fiber-optic jacket, for example, and six unique hairstyles."
Yesss even has a tricked-out internet limousine. "It looks like a VIP section of a nightclub", says Jon Krummel, modeling supervisor-environments. "It's really plush and, of course, high tech."
Taraji P. Henson lends her voice to the website entrepreneur. "She is very fashionable", says Henson. "Every time I went into the studio, they added another color, another hairstyle, another outfit. It was just beautiful."
"We wanted somebody who was very confident to help bring Yesss to life", says producer Clark Spencer. "We wanted somebody who brought some flair, some pizzazz. We saw that Taraji could bring an incredible amount of character and humour, like she does in 'Empire,' as well as the kind of depth that she demonstrated in 'Hidden Figures.'"
According to co-head of animation Renato Dos Anjos, voice talent like Henson gave animators a lot to work with. "There's so much detail within even a simple facial expression and we try to bring that into our film to make these characters feel like someone we all know", he says. "All of our characters were heavily inspired by the actors portraying them."
Maybe is the dedicated assistant of website entrepreneur Yesss. "He's her lackey, her minion", says Moore. Flula Borg, German actor, comedian and YouTube personality (DJ Flula), lends his voice to Maybe.
KnowsMore is a search engine Ralph and Vanellope turn to upon arriving in the internet. He is more than ready with answers when it comes to tracking down that elusive place called eBay where they hope to find the coveted Sugar Rush steering wheel. Literally a know-it-all, KnowsMore frequently gets ahead of himself, finishing people's sentences in an attempt to guess what they're going to say. "He has a pretty aggressive auto -fill", says co-screenwriter Pamela Ribon. "He just wants to be helpful and fast, but he can come off as nosy."
According to art director-characters Ami Thompson, KnowsMore is straight out of academia. "We gave him big glasses and a mortarboard hat with a tassel", she says. "He's a little professor."
Filmmakers decided to have KnowsMore's eyes hand-drawn, calling on veteran animator Rachel Bibb to create a dynamic look for the character's big eyes.
Alan Tudyk lends his voice to KnowsMore. "Alan has become somewhat of a go-to good-luck charm for Disney since the first 'Wreck-It Ralph,'" says director Rich Moore. "He's such a versatile actor. He's like a chef-he throws a bunch of ingredients into a stew that brews in his head. The performances he gives are in the moment."
Tudyk channeled iconic personalities to find the voice of KnowsMore. "Rich [Moore] asked me to listen to interviews of the author Truman Capote and lean into his more snooty affectations. As I was working on it, I realised that Truman Capote and Droopy Dawg live in the same vocal neighborhood. KnowsMore now lives between the two of them. KnowsMore's herky-jerky search spasm was my favourite part."
Felix and Calhoun are as passionate as ever-about each other, their games and whatever life throws at them. These heroes at heart are the first to step up to the plate when Sugar Rush breaks, leaving a bevy of young racers without a home. "Felix and Calhoun have been toying with the idea of becoming parents, so they decide to test the waters by adopting 15 tweens at the same time", says director of story Jim Reardon. "What could go wrong?"
"They're little hellcats", says director Phil Johnston. "They're obnoxious, crazy kids."
Adds Trinidad, "There's nothing deadlier than the eye roll of a 12-year-old girl. We're all parents so this part of the story wasn't hard to imagine."
Jack McBrayer and Jane Lynch return as the voices of Fix-It Felix Jr. and Sergeant Calhoun. "They are two of the best comedic actors working", says Johnston. "They improvise some of the funniest stuff you can imagine. We could have a whole movie of Felix and Calhoun raising those children and it would be really funny."
"I was thrilled to come back to voice Fix-It Felix", says McBrayer. "The original movie was such an incredible experience for me, and working with Phil Johnston and Rich Moore again-it was like slipping on a comfy pair of jeans."
Lynch says she was filled with great power upon stepping into the Sergeant's shoes after six years. But she's not sure the characters are up to the challenge of 15 distressed preteens. "Felix finally found something he can't fix and Calhoun finally found something she can't manage or control."
Double Dan resides in the bowels of the dark web. Massive, slimy and decidedly creepy, he sports a second head called Little Dan. "The idea is that he's made of gelatinous processed meat-meat that's been dropped on the floor and rolled in hair, dust and bits of trash", says head of characters Dave Komorowski. "Little Dan is on his shoulder tucked between his neck folds. It's gross-but we love gross."
As the proprietor of the dark web's apothecary, Double Dan formulates destructive viruses. Despite the deadly potential of his creations, this underground rogue asks few questions.
Alfred Molina voices Double Dan. "Alfred recorded with John C. Reilly", says director Rich Moore. "They hadn't worked together since 'Boogie Nights,' so we got to see a reunion of sorts. It was great to see their process together. Alfred is classically trained and John likes to mix it up a bit."
Adds Johnston, "Every take Alfred gave was gold; every single one is usable. It's just astonishing to see that kind of craft at work. He is a master."
J.P. Spamley is an oft-ignored click baiter, a Netizen who tries to get people in the real world to visit his website. A relentless salesman who pops up uninvited, Spamley helps Ralph and Vanellope as they navigate this new world of the internet in an effort to save Vanellope's game.
"Spamley is a desperate salesman", says Robert Huth, animation supervisor. "He's a little anxious and fidgety. He has a lot of pent-up energy, but he's not a bad dude. He's actually pretty happy that Ralph and Vanellope turn to him for help."
According to Jon Krummel, modeling supervisor, environments, Spamley has his own vehicle-though it's in worse shape than Spamley is. "It's like an old jalopy", Krummel says. "It's a beat-up, falling-apart rickshaw."
Tiffany Herrera, Colleen Ballinger and Dani Fernandez can all be heard in "Ralph Breaks the Internet." As digital influencers, they were called on to portray themselves, adding validity to the internet. "We wanted to fill out these parts with people who felt authentic", says director Rich Moore.
The world of the internet is bustling with activity, featuring two key categories of characters:
- Net Users are the avatars that represent people from the real world as they explore the internet. When a person moves their cursor around on a computer screen, they are moving their Net User avatar within the internet. Early tests revealed that some shots would feature more than 100,000 Net Users, who mill about the internet in search of the best deals and latest gossip. Mostly unaware of each other, they are ushered in and around the vast world via a complex transportation system. "Net Users are the flow of the world", says crowds supervisor Moe El-Ali. "There would not be light in the internet without the Users."
- Netizens are the residents of the internet. They are the employees of the various websites visited by the Net Users, helping them navigate their purchases and searches. Yesss and KnowsMore are Netizens. "Netizens have a full range of emotions", says El-Ali. "They know what's going on around them."
Though not technically characters, the vehicles featured in the film help populate the world and were treated as crowd characters in "Ralph Breaks the Internet." When a Net User visits a search engine and clicks on a link, a vehicle that represents that link forms around the User's avatar and sweeps it directly to the website. Net Users travel in flying vehicles that run on an elaborate system of rails that connect the websites. "We have shots with 200,000 vehicles", says El-Ali. "They're all moving at fairly high speeds and not touching each other. The vehicles have a little wobble to them, which mirrors the Net Users themselves."
Netizens have about six generic vehicles that aren't confined to the rail system. "The Netizens are able to travel freely, darting every which way", says Matthias Lechner, art director-environments. "They even get a little annoyed by traffic created by the Net Users."
El-Ali says that due to the sheer number of vehicles showcased in some shots-in at least one case there are more than a million flying vehicles-the process was automated. "It's built like a reef", he says. "Each vehicle is assigned certain characteristics-what it can and cannot do. There are exceptions to those rules, of course."
From the very first reel filmmakers assembled, there was one sequence the filmmakers and artists felt was a keeper-the scene that welcomes the canon of Disney princesses to the story in a fun, but ultimately meaningful way. "We knew we'd have to find a balance between making fun of ourselves and celebrating these iconic characters", says producer Clark Spencer.
"The inside jokes and the affectionate nods to the princesses' original stories make me laugh every time."Linda Larkin, voice of Princess Jasmine, "Aladdin"
Co-writer Pamela Ribon wasn't sure they'd be allowed to import beloved classic characters into a contemporary environment, but she was compelled to try out of loyalty to one character in particular. "Vanellope is technically a princess, but hasn't really been included among Disney royalty", says Ribon. "Who wouldn't want the Hoodie Princess in there? That's my princess! I loved the idea of getting her into that club."
Ribon did her homework, discovering that a good Disney princess has at least one of a few qualities. "We have all these princesses and all these tropes and I just wanted to make sure I got it right", says Ribon. "So I asked which princesses were kidnapped, which were poisoned and which ones were cursed."
That led to a scene that brought the princesses together in a room for the first time ever. Ribon leaned into the tropes with dialogue that both celebrated and poked fun at the iconic characters. Filmmakers didn't know if it would fly. Says Spencer, "Everyone looked at me and said, 'Do you think we could do it?' I said, 'There's only one thing to do. Write it. Board it. Put it in the screening and one of two things is going to happen: The whole world will laugh and think it's brilliant and then it's in the movie, or they won't find it as funny as we do-but we'll have put our best foot forward.' We just wanted to let people experience it in a screening as it was envisioned by the story team. Nobody knew about it outside of the story room until that first screening."
"When have all of the Disney princesses been together in one room? I don't know if it gets better than that."Idina Menzel, voice of Elsa, "Frozen"
The scene was a hit. "Putting Vanellope in a room with all of the Disney princesses was funny from the get-go, considering her unapologetic personality and laid-back outlook", says director Phil Johnston. "As the story evolved, the scene changed considerably to best serve the story, which was imperative. And as it turned out, Vanellope is on a coming-of-age journey, so her encounter with the princesses was integral to the completion of her arc in the film."
Vanellope makes an impression on the princesses, too, showing them the appeal of casual attire. Ami Thompson, art director-characters, was tasked with redressing the classic cast. "I still can't believe that I got to design casual clothing for the Disney princesses", says Thompson. "We wanted to incorporate modern style that reflects their individual stories- Cinderalla's t-shirt has a pumpkin carriage with 'G2G' for 'got to go.' Snow White's jeans have an apple print. Merida's tank top has a bear on it and reads 'Mum.' Everything is edgy, surprising-we designed band-style shirts, flannels and chopper-style tees."
Princess Aurora's shirt declares her "Nap Queen", Pocahontas' has a graphic of a wolf howling to a blue corn moon and Elsa's shirt reads, "Just Let It Go." Snow White's shirt features a poisoned apple. "It says 'poison' and the 'p' is a little drippy, like '50s horror text", says Thompson. "It's such a contrast to the elaborate gowns we're used to seeing
the princesses wear, we were all asking ourselves, "Am I in the 'princesses in gowns' camp would I rather be in the Vanellope-inspired casual cozies?"
"I am a girl who lives for both the exquisite and the cozy. I feel no need to choose except to decide which moment calls for which."Anika Noni Rose, voice of Tiana, "The Princess and the Frog"
Filmmakers invited the original voice talent to return to the studio to help bring their characters to life. The royal reunion included Irene Bedard ("Pocahontas"), Kristen Bell (Anna in "Frozen"), Jodi Benson (Ariel in "The Little Mermaid"), Auli'i Cravalho ("Moana"), Linda Larkin (Jasmine in "Aladdin"), Kelly Macdonald (Merida in "Brave"), Idina Menzel (Elsa in "Frozen"), Mandy Moore (Rapunzel in "Tangled"), Paige O'Hara (Belle in "Beauty and the Beast"), Anika Noni Rose (Tiana in "The Princess and the Frog") and Ming-Na Wen ("Mulan"). "We were able to get just about everyone who's still with us to reprise their roles", says Johnston. "As each actress came in to record her lines, we invited her to sit with the animators and talk about her character."
Adds director Rich Moore, "It was intriguing how much the characters are a reflection of those actresses. These women have a deep connection to their characters, and to witness their very personal presentations was really moving."
Dave Komorowski, head of characters, says that despite the fact that the princesses were already designed, artists had to dig deep to ensure they honored the original looks. "With these characters there were pre-established rules", he says. "So we had to call upon experts for almost everything they did. We tried to hearken a lot of the things that they do in the movies. For example, Pocahontas has magical wind that blows through her hair at all times, and Rapunzel actually sits in a chair made from her own hair."
"Over the years, I have had the pleasure of meeting and making friendships with many of the legendary princesses! It has been a blessing to be a part of such a beautiful sisterhood of such strong, intelligent women."Irene Bedard, voice of Pocahontas, "Pocahontas"
According to Kira Lehtomaki, co-head of animation, the journey to ensure authenticity of each princess was aptly glittery and inspirational. "We actually had a Princess Palooza lab at the studio where we all worked together to rebuild these characters in CG", she says. "But research is key here at Disney, so we all headed down to the Happiest Place on Earth to talk to these ladies in person."
Disneyland, of course, had already invested years of research into showcasing characters in the parks that have delighted visitors from around the world. Every detail, from how a princess holds her head to how she walks and smiles, is part of what guests experience every day. "We asked a lot of questions", says Lehtomaki. "We learned about their individual gestures, their quirks. They taught us a lot."
The team was also able to turn to Mark Henn for guidance. "He was the original supervising animator for six of the princesses-Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas and Tiana. And on 'Frozen,' he contributed to Anna and Elsa", says Lehtomaki. "On top of
all that, Mark says that Cinderella was actually the film that inspired him to be an animator. Nobody knows these characters better than Mark. He'd comb through every scene in the film during dailies just to make sure that we remained true to who these ladies were. He'd also go around to our desks and leave thumbnail illustrations to suggest poses or acting choices-little nuggets of gold from his expert brain. He actually did some hand-drawn animation to help teach and inspire us."
Says Henn, who served as hand-drawn animation supervisor for the film, "The princesses are still the characters we love, we're just seeing a different side of them. The key is finding the balance. They're backstage where they can behave like regular girls-just hanging out-but we still had to maintain their personalities."
But that didn't mean filmmakers couldn't have fun with the scene. "They confess their faults and flaws", says Henn. "Aurora can't help but doze off and Ariel has an uncontrollable urge to sing every time her emotions move her, which is a lot. And nobody can understand Merida: 'She's from the other studio,' they whisper to Vanellope."
"My favourite part is the fun, tongue-in-cheek insider humour. It's really funny but in a respectful, loving way. I think it walks a perfect line."Paige O'Hara, voice of Belle, "Beauty and the Beast"
Lehtomaki says that animators studied the original movies, adopting many of the poses they observed. "There are so many iconic moments that we wanted to pay homage to", says Lehtomaki. "Each princess should feel familiar-some movements are subtle, while others may make audiences remember exactly the moment that we are referencing. Whether or not these ladies are front and center in a particular scene, we wanted to make sure that they are always true to who they are."
The backstage set underscores the relaxed tone of the sequence, with white shaggy carpet that was a challenge to render, as well as cozy beanbags, an S -shaped sofa and pillows. The palette features pinks, purples and blues, and each of the princesses has her own vanity that filmmakers decked out with her personal style. "The trick was making each of the 14 vanities look unique", says Jon Krummel, modeling supervisor-environments. "We had to fill it with appropriate props, which was fun."
Adds head of environments Larry Wu, "Belle has a bunch of books, Rapunzel has her paint box, Ariel has the candelabra with the forks, Merida has little stuffed bears and Sleeping Beauty has her spindle."
"I love seeing the princesses 'off-duty,' relaxed and cozy in way we've never pictured them before. It gives us a deeper glimpse into their lives and a peek behind the curtain."Mandy Moore, voice of Rapunzel, "Tangled"
According to Brian Leach, director of cinematography-lighting, artists treated the princess sequences much like their counterparts did in the original films. "We always try to make our characters look appealing, but there was an extra level of scrutiny for those scenes", he says. "The lighting is soft and it glows. It gets warmer as they get cozier."
Having ventured into the retro world of the arcade in "Wreck-It Ralph", filmmakers felt they needed to take Ralph and Vanellope's next adventure in a new direction. Producer Clark Spencer says the idea of setting the new film in the internet was early and pretty much absolute. "Nothing else was even pitched", he says. "Going into the ultra-modern world of the internet was not only a nice contrast to the first film's nod to the arcade, it offered unlimited possibilities. We could actually personify retail sites, social media and search engines-we could give people a look inside their computers when they go online."
According to director Rich Moore, the possibilities were both exciting and overwhelming. "We were too naive to realize how overwhelming it would be", he says. "It was the perfect setting for the story we wanted to tell, but we had to figure out what this place would look like and who would live and work there.
"We ultimately had to make it feel huge, but also specific", continues Moore. "Narrowing it down to a simple, cohesive world that served the story was the hardest thing for me to get my head around."
Technical supervisor Ernest J. Petti says that even a cohesive internet world was a big challenge. "It's the sheer scale of it with thousands of buildings and crowds and crowds of characters-the smallest crowd shots in this movie are larger than the largest ones in previous movies", he says. "There are dynamic screens on the buildings with moving graphics. Creating a pipeline for all of that was a huge undertaking."
Adds Scott Kersavage, visual effects supervisor, "Our smallest building is the size of the Empire State Building. We had to do a lot of early testing with regard to compute power to determine if we could support a world with this scale.
"We did a lot of research to create a feeling of endlessness", Kersavage continues. "Set extensions were extremely valuable. And if Ralph does indeed wreck the internet, we needed to figure out what that would look like-it's destruction, but unlike anything we'd done before."
So the question on everyone's mind was simple: Where do we start? According to production designer Cory Loftis, artists had to consider the look that was established in the original film. "Ralph and Vanellope still live in that world, so this couldn't feel like something completely different. In 'Wreck-It Ralph,' there were distinct looks to each game-Fix-It Felix Jr., Hero's Duty, Sugar Rush-so we just built on that because those places still exist in this movie.
"The internet became a new place with its own shape language and color palette", Loftis continues. "And we looked at it as this infinite, limitless city. There are constantly new
things being built, but the old things never really go away. So we decided that our vision of the internet wouldn't be just a city-it's an entire planet with multiple layers like our planets. The really old websites are down at the bottom, and then as you move up towards the surface, the websites are newer and more modern-looking. They all have roots that go down to the original system. And because the internet is quite literally connected with physical cables, we knew that all of the buildings in our world needed to be connected."
Loftis says that when it came to the appearance, artists moved away from physical inspirations-like the power strip in the first film-because people see the internet in terms of wireless devices and the newest apps. "They all have a similar, modern graphic design aesthetic", says Loftis. "The look extends across almost every system now: There are rounded-off squares-very iconic and not too busy. The colours are crisp, but not necessarily primary colours-shades of cyan and magenta are more prevalent. So that formed the shape and color language of our internet."
To create an expansive and bustling environment, artists looked to big cities like Manhattan, Shanghai and Dubai for inspiration. "We wanted to include really big buildings that towered over the Netizens", says Larry Wu, head of environments. "Each building represents a website-the bigger the building, the bigger the site. And these buildings have floaty parts to them that give them a sense of fluidity: The internet is alive and changing."
According to Wu, for shots that are at sidewalk level, they added traffic lights, benches, kiosks, little cafe stands and an occasional green sphere that represents foliage. "Those details make it look more like a city", he says. "They make it look alive."
Adding even more life to the dynamic environment was Brian Leach, director of cinematography-lighting, and his team. "The sun doesn't set on the internet", says Leach. "The lights are always on."
The lighting artists were enlisted early to attach lights to the buildings in a special, more permanent way. "We wanted to make the lights part of the asset itself so that when the building or object shows up in a shot, it would be as easy as flipping a switch to turn on those lights", says Leach. "It makes the lighting consumable in every shot down the stream."
To show off the scope and grandeur of the internet, Nathan Detroit Warner, director of cinematography-layout, and his team decided to shoot the vast locale like a live-action drone or helicopter would. "That's how you make a city-or the internet in our case-look and feel big", he says. "At the same time, we do elevation changes so that the audience realizes that there are layers on top of layers and street level is not necessarily street level."
The internet wouldn't be complete without hundreds of websites. Artists strove to find ways to make the film's sites recognisable. "We studied actual websites-the kind of graphics they use, font styles, even advertising", says Matthias Lechner, art director-environments. "Where we landed isn't a carbon copy, but inspired by our research."
One of the big questions filmmakers faced when creating their vision was how to make it clear to moviegoers where they were. "We made a decision early on that we would make up our own websites like BuzzzTube, some original online games and our search engine KnowsMore", says director Rich Moore. "But we wanted it to be familiar and relatable, too. So we incorporated places like eBay, which is a big part of the story since it's where Ralph and Vanellope go to buy the replacement part for her game."
- Real Sites
- Filmmakers had to determine what a site like eBay would look like in their vision of the internet. "Instead of bidding on things on the web page, we have Netizens acting as auctioneers who try to sell the items", says Lechner. "There are a lot of auctions happening at once to show the scale of the site."
- "It's like a big warehouse store-Costco or Best Buy-it's really bright", adds Larry Wu, head of environments. "We made rows of booths that represent bidding auctioneers."
- Filmmakers included cameos from Amazon, Instagram and Snapchat, among others, and even some international sites, which added authenticity. "People ask us all the time how we went about personifying these websites", Moore says. "In the spirit of taking risks and wanting to make this place feel real, we just dove in."
- Adds producer Clark Spencer, "Just as we do with all of our movies, we made sure that everything we featured in the film is on the up and up and doesn't infringe on anyone's rights-including intellectual property rights."
- With graphics playing such a big role in making the world feel vast, city-like and believable, filmmakers anticipated a need to adapt the film for international audiences. "Websites that are popular in some places may not be in others", says technical supervisor Ernest J. Petti. "We wanted to be able to tailor aspects of this film. This is the first time we were able to create a whole pipeline for that before we even got started."
- Adds visual effects supervisor Scott Kersavage, "The pipeline allowed us to tag everything that features a sign and what language we wanted it to be in. We felt early on that the internet is such an international thing that we wanted to create an international world. So deliberately produced content that was global in nature. The theory was that we would have to change less later for different markets, and when we did make those changes, it would be easier to do."
- Artists were challenged with creating a space for trend-setter Yesss that was fresh and new-and would still feel that way when the movie opened. According to production designer Cory Loftis, they started by thinking about where people go to experience new things. "We looked at fashion shows, art galleries and music concerts", he says. "They're all businesses, but not typical businesses. They care a lot about the look, the image, the feeling they create-very theatrical. So we incorporated stage lighting in the design of BuzzzTube with a lot of heavy branding-Yesss would want to set herself apart from everyone."
- Loftis and his team considered colours they saw at live concerts, and when it came to the shape of Yesss's environment-they looked at her site's name. "We thought with Buzzz, we could play with a Z or with the idea of bees or honeycomb", says Loftis. "We realised that Ralph becomes a star at BuzzzTube and a star fits into the honeycomb shape-so it all started coming together. We ended up with blues, magentas and golds with an octagon shape language."
- Slaughter Race
- The online auto-racing game that catches Vanellope's eye is set in a gritty apocalyptic world that's populated by first-person players and gaming characters. Among the core team of game characters in Slaughter Race is Shank, the leader of a street-racing crew that includes her mates Butcher Boy, Little Debbie, Pyro and Felony. "Slaughter Race had to come off like a dangerous place", says head of environments Larry Wu. "But it's exciting, too, especially for Vanellope, because there are no rules."
- Director of cinematography-lighting Brian Leach says Slaughter Race called for a special approach in lighting. "It's a harsh, toxic-looking environment where we cut out all the blues, incorporating a yellow-orange gritty look throughout the whole sequence", he says. "We see the sky, but instead of appearing blue and appealing, even the sky shifts toward yellow."
- But Leach and his team needed to be flexible. "When Vanellope breaks into song", he says, "we come completely out of that yellow look for the more theatrical moment with very colorful saturated lighting because we're seeing it through her eyes, and to her-it's perfect."
- While the set of Slaughter Race is important, it's the action that wins Vanellope's heart. Nathan Detroit Warner, director of cinematography-layout, has a background in racing and so he was asked to make a presentation to the team, showcasing what he felt made a proper racing scene. "I watched about 18 hours of racing in one weekend", he says. "No human being should do that. It's not good for your nervous system. I pulled about 22 minutes of footage together and said, 'This is what I like and this is why I like it.' It doesn't matter if a car is doing 35 miles per hour if it's shot in a way that feels fast-it's kinetic, it's smart."
- Among the movies Warner admired was The Man from U.N.C.L.E., Rush and Baby Driver. So Jeremy Fry, the Hollywood stuntman behind the wheel in "Baby Driver" as both stunt driver and choreographer, was invited to the studio. "I showed him my presentation and asked him to tell me what could and could not be done in real life", says Warner. "He said, 'But you can do anything you want to do because it's created in the computer, right?' I explained that I wanted to ground it in reality as much as possible."
- Warner also accompanied the animation team on a field trip to Willow Springs International Raceway. "I think it helped them understand that even 50 miles per hour feels fast", he says. "We showed them how weight shifts on cars-I might steer this way first before I go that way, shifting the weight to one side."
- Adds visual effects supervisor Scott Kersavage, "We rigged the cars with GoPros and hired an instructor to teach us stunt driving. To actually feel the car doing spins and drifting made a huge difference. I think it really shows in the performance. It's pretty amazing- from the complexity of the animation that went into it, as well as all the effects."
- Cesar Velazquez, head of effects animation, and his team amplified the look. "We went for ultrarealistic effects-there are plumes of smoke, haze, random bits of fire and explosions, and the air is dirty", he says. "In the huge car race when Vanellope is showing off her skills against Shank-one in a sports car and the other in a street-wise muscle car with very different driving styles-we add a lot of smoke and burning tires and they're drifting everywhere. There's debris getting kicked up and tire tracks on the road, plus a lot of destruction and an overpass that's on fire."
- Ultimately, Warner and his layout team placed 100 cameras into the set and shot the chase from every angle, delivering 1000 shots to editor Jeremy Milton. "And the end result is like nothing we've ever seen before in animation", says producer Clark Spencer.
- Dark Net
- Desperate to hold onto Vanellope's friendship, Ralph heads to the Dark Net to talk to a guy about a virus. "It's the seedy underparts of the internet", says head of environments Larry Wu. "It's a dark alley where everything is run-down and dreary. There are people in the corners with their hoodies up selling shady things. The Netizens have stuff in their coats.
- "Double Dan's place is like an apothecary-an herbal dispensary", continues Wu. "He has vials of viruses and little bugs crawling around-but they're like little computer chips that scatter."
- According to director of cinematography-lighting Brian Leach, the existence of the Dark Net actually elevated the rest of the film. "Having darker, somber or even creepy moments to juxtapose against the bright world of the internet helps make the colorful moments pop."
- The idea that Ralph wants to use a virus in the film triggered a lot of thought and research about viruses. "How do we visually convey a virus?" says Velazquez. "Is it a robot? Is it metallic? Is it made out of smoky or glowy things? We had to determine what language to use. Then we had to figure out how to visually tie whatever the virus touches to the virus itself. We wanted to find a simple motif with color or shape that could reach across the entire environment. And it all had to tie in with Ralph himself in some way because he's the guy that starts it all."
Sarah Silverman & Gal Gadot Sing Original Song "A Place Called Slaughter Race", with Music by Disney Legend Alan Menken; Imagine Dragons Write and Perform End-Credit Song "Zero"; Henry Jackman Scores the Film; and Julia Michaels Performs End-Credit Song "In This Place"
Walt Disney Animation Studios filmmakers have long valued the power of music in supporting and elevating its storytelling. For "Ralph Breaks the Internet", directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston called on Disney Legend Alan Menken ("The Little Mermaid", "Aladdin", "Tangled") to write the music, and Sarah Silverman (voice of Vanellope von Schweetz) and Gal Gadot (voice of Shank) to perform the song "A Place Called Slaughter Race" in the film. Composer Henry Jackman ("Wreck-It Ralph", "Big Hero 6", "Captain America: Civil War") returns to score "Ralph Breaks the Internet." The film also features original songs "Zero", written and performed by Imagine Dragons, and "In This Place", a pop version of "A Place Called Slaughter Race", performed by Julia Michaels.
- A Place Called Slaughter Race
- "We were exploring ways that Vanellope's arc could be completed in a fulfilling way", says director Phil Johnston, who co-wrote the lyrics. "Every classic Disney princess knows that if you know what you want and you go after your dreams, you'll start to sing."
- Adds Silverman, "Vanellope learns from the other Disney princesses that she must have a quest, a desire-a 'want'-and that she needs to express that desire in song", says Silverman. "Vanellope tries but it just doesn't come to her-until it does!"
- Of course, Silverman sang the song in Vanellope's iconic voice. "It's definitely different than just singing as me", she says. "The crazy thing is that Vanellope seems to have a wider vocal range. How is that possible? Somehow it was."
- In the vein of classic "I want" songs in the Disney canon like "Someday My Prince Will Come", "Part of Your World" and "colours of the Wind", the song showcases Vanellope's desire to be part of the world outside Sugar Rush-to grow as a racer and as a person. Says Tom MacDougall, executive vice president of music at Disney, who co-wrote the lyrics with Johnston. "It's funny that Vanellope is singing and the lyrics are unexpected, but the music was never intended to be a joke. We always wanted it to be earnest and real."
- So naturally, they turned to award-winning songwriter/composer Alan Menken to write the music. Menken's credits include "The Little Mermaid", "Beauty and the Beast", "Pocahontas" and "Aladdin", winning Oscars(r) for songs like "Under the Sea", "Beauty and the Beast", "colours of the Wind" and "A Whole New World." "Having Alan Menken write a song for our movie is the realization of a weird dream I never imagined could actually come true", says Johnston.
- Silverman feels the same way, "especially working with Alan Menken, who-besides writing iconic music for Disney movies-also wrote my favourite musical, 'Little Shop of Horrors,'" she says. "Getting to work with and know Alan was a career highlight."
- Gal Gadot was also called on to perform in the song as Shank. "The song is really about Vanellope, who's at a crossroads in her life", she says. "She's fallen in love with Slaughter Race and has found an immediate older-sister connection with Shank, which is a completely different relationship than she has with Ralph. And this place has made her question the life she's living.
- "It was so much fun", Gadot continues. "I really enjoyed working with Phil [Johnston], Rich [Moore] and Tom [MacDougall]. This being my first time singing in a film, I was a bit nervous, but they were great coaches! I hope everyone loves the end result as much as I do."
- Imagine Dragons, the GRAMMY(r)-winning band behind recent hits "Natural" and "Whatever It Takes", wrote and recorded the end-credit song "Zero" for the film, embracing the struggle Ralph has with his evolving friendship with Vanellope. According to Imagine Dragons' lead singer Dan Reynolds, the film's emotional themes are reflected in the song. "It's a pretty timely movie in a lot of ways in that it addresses some of the issues of identity and loneliness unique to this internet generation", says Reynolds. "Ralph's internal struggle for self-acceptance really resonated with us, and this song speaks to that."
- Says Moore, "It's a bold choice for an end-credit song because it's about someone who feels like a zero, someone who hasn't always felt worthy, someone who's allowed his entire sense of self to rely on a single friendship. When that friendship is threatened, there's a lot of insecurity."
- "We can all relate to that feeling", adds Johnston. "But the song tells us we're not alone. They nailed the theme of the movie in a way that also makes you want to dance."
- Says Reynolds, "The song is a dichotomy in some ways, with sometimes heavy lyrics over pretty upbeat instrumentation. The result is a tone that is somewhat bittersweet, which felt appropriate given the complexity of Ralph as a character."
Henry Jackman's mission was to create a score that's reminiscent of the first film, while embracing the new story and the vast, uncharted new world of the internet that Ralph and Vanellope must navigate to retrieve a part to save her game.
"I think this new score is Henry's best work", says director Rich Moore. "He's an extraordinary composer and truly a brilliant musician and writer. The emotion he brings is profound, thoughtful and funny."
Adds Johnston, "Henry's a very contemporary composer, but he's not afraid to use elements that are electronic and synth, as well as traditional orchestra. It was important to him that this felt bigger than the first movie, while ensuring that it comes from the same DNA. As we were working with him, he would point out that a new piece of music had
origins from 'Wreck-It Ralph'-it's not often that I think a composer is able to go back to his previous work and expand upon it."
Says Jackman, "'Wreck-It Ralph' is one of the best animated films of recent times and I was really proud of the score. What makes this one different? There's a clue in the title, 'Ralph Breaks the Internet'-we've moved from the arcade to the internet. While we can retain some of the original material, there's a new layer we had to create and integrate. There's a distinction between arcade electronica and internet electronica, which sounds more modern."
To ignite his imagination, filmmakers shared with Jackman a key scene from the new movie. "It was a four-minute, amazing visual sequence in which the main characters are propelled to the internet", says Jackman. "It was inspiring to see what that meant to each of them."
Ralph is overwhelmed by the internet and wants to finish their business as quickly as possible, while Vanellope's eyes are opened to new possibilities. Says Johnston, "Vanellope is growing up in this film. So, Henry took her original theme and gave it a more mature feeling-really transforming it."
Jackman maintained some of the other character themes established in the first film and created new themes for new characters. "The tuba is just perfect for Ralph", he says. "For Yesss, who's a VIP, I went with club music with a bit of orchestral integration."
For Slaughter Race, Jackman paid homage to 1970s brass arrangements, utilising a saxophone and trumpet with funk guitar. "But we introduced slightly tougher program beats", he says. "Slaughter Race is such a different world that we went outside the orchestra setting to record a pop brass section."
According to Jackman, directors Moore and Johnston encouraged him to lean into the narrative. "They go for the jugular every time", he says. "If it's aggressive, be aggressive. If it's emotional, take it seriously. If it's worrying, don't pull your punches. Just go for it.
"There's so many fun things to enjoy", continues Jackman. "But I think the universality comes from the fact that it's an important archetypal friendship story. Hidden behind all of this amazing technology and imagery is something very solid emotionally and narratively."
Filmmakers called on singer-songwriter Julia Michaels (Issues) to perform the second end-credit song, In This Place, a pop version of A Place Called Slaughter Race.
"I think one of my favourite things about 'Ralph Breaks the Internet' is Vanellope", says Michaels, "because she's just completely misunderstood. I think a lot of people feel that way-misunderstood-and go through life trying to find their power. And when they find it, it's really beautiful."
"Julia really made the song her own", says Johnston. "She took the longing and the desire that Vanellope has and translated it into something she's clearly feeling. It's a very personal interpretation of the song. Her soul is on fire."
According to MacDougall, the song's comedic roots might have been challenging to convert. "When you try to translate it into a more contemporary arrangement, you still have lyrics about dumpster fires and burning tires, among other colorful ideas. But Julia's such a huge fan of Disney Animation that she really wanted to see what she could come up with. She was able to extract something that even if you heard the song without any knowledge of the original, there's so much to enjoy."
Adds Johnston, "We showed her 15 minutes of the movie. She was laughing and I think she cried twice. She has very easy access to her emotions, and ultimately was able to honor the song while making a genuine connection."
John C. Reilly (voice of Ralph) is one of the most diverse actors working today with an impressive range of roles in dramas, comedies, musicals and foreign films. He has been acknowledged by the Academy Awards(r), the Golden Globes(r), the Tony Awards(r) and the Independent Spirit Awards, as well as the GRAMMYs(r), among others.
This year, Reilly will star in four very diverse films: Holmes & Watson, with Will Ferrell; Ralph Breaks the Internet; Stan & Ollie, as Oliver Hardy opposite Steve Coogan's Stan Laurel; and in Jacques Audiard's The Sisters Brothers, alongside Jake Gyllenhaal and Joaquin Phoenix.
Reilly recently starred in Kong: Skull Island with Tom Hiddleston, Brie Larson and Samuel L. Jackson, as well as the independent film The Little Hours, which premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.
Other recent films include The Lobster, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos; the French award-winning film Les Cowboys, directed by Thomas Bidegain; and the Italian film The Tale of Tales for director Matteo Garrone-all of which premiered at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
Reilly has worked with top directors, including Martin Scorsese in Gangs of New York and The Aviator; Brian De Palma in Casualties of War; Robert Altman in A Prairie Home Companion; Terrence Malick in The Thin Red Line; Rob Marshall in Chicago; Roman Polanski in Carnage; Wolfgang Petersen in The Perfect Storm; Lynne Ramsay in We Need to Talk About Kevin; and Paul Thomas Anderson in Hard Eight, Boogie Nights and Magnolia.
He has starred in the hit comedies Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story, Stepbrothers, Cyrus and Guardians of the Galaxy. He voiced the title character in the Academy Award(r)-nominated animated feature Wreck-It Ralph, and he was the voice of Eddie in Sing.
Reilly's work in the world of independent films includes The Good Girl, Cedar Rapids, The Promotion, Terri, Year of the Dog, Criminal and The Anniversary Party.
On television, Reilly is a frequent collaborator with comedians Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim for the shows Tim and Eric's Awesome Show, Great Job! and Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule, among others.
Reilly's many theater credits include True West, in which he received a Tony Award(r) nomination, and A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway, as well as Steppenwolf productions of The Grapes of Wrath and A Streetcar Named Desire.
Two-time Emmy(r) Award winner Sarah Silverman (voice of Vanellope) is one of the most versatile talents in entertainment. She serves as creator, executive producer and
host of the Emmy-nominated "I Love You, America", which returned with new episodes on September 6 on Hulu. The weekly half-hour topical show sees her looking to connect with people who may not agree with her personal opinions through honesty, humour, genuine interest and not taking herself too seriously. She also continues to lend her voice to the Emmy Award-winning Fox animated series "Bob's Burgers", and is a part of JASH, a comedy collective on YouTube featuring original content by Silverman and friends Michael Cera, Tim & Eric, and Reggie Watts.
On stage, Silverman continues to cement her status as a force in stand-up comedy. In May 2017, she released her latest stand-up special, Sarah Silverman: A Speck of Dust, on Netflix, which culminated in two Emmy(r) Award nominations and a GRAMMY(r) Award nomination. In 2013, she debuted her hour-long HBO stand-up special Sarah Silverman: We Are Miracles, which earned her the 2014 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special. The special received an additional Primetime Emmy Award nomination that year for Outstanding Variety Special in addition to a Writers Guild Awards nomination. In September 2014, Silverman released the special as an audio album through Sub Pop Records, which went on to receive a 2015 GRAMMY Award nomination for Best Comedy Album. Previously, Silverman made an impressive splash with her concert-meets-comedy film Sarah Silverman: Jesus Is Magic, which garnered major attention at the Toronto International Film Festival.
In the film world, Silverman was most recently seen opposite Emma Stone and Steve Carell in the critically acclaimed film Battle of the Sexes, which was based on the true story of the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. She also starred in I Smile Back, the film adaptation of the Amy Koppelman novel. The drama premiered at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival and was later released in theaters by Broad Green Pictures. Silverman received much praise for her role as Laney Brooks, culminating in a 2016 Screen Actors Guild Award(r) nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role. Her additional film credits include The Book of Henry, Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping, Ashby, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Take This Waltz, Gravy, Peep World, I Want Someone to Eat Cheese With, School of Rock, There's Something About Mary, The Way of the Gun and the Oscar(r)-nominated smash hit Wreck-It Ralph.
In 2010, she released her first book, a memoir called The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee. The book went on to become a New York Times Best Seller.
Silverman was nominated for a 2009 Primetime Emmy(r) Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for her portrayal of a fictionalised version of herself in her Comedy Central series The Sarah Silverman Program. This marked Comedy Central's first-ever Emmy nomination in a scripted acting category. Silverman also received a Writers Guild Award nomination for her work on the show. In 2008, Silverman won a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Original Music and Lyrics for her musical collaboration with Matt Damon. Additionally, she was honoured with a Webby Award for Best Actress for her online video The Great Schlep, in which she persuaded young kids to encourage their grandparents in Florida to vote for President Obama prior to the 2008 presidential election.
Silverman has made memorable guest appearances on a number of acclaimed and notable television shows, including Monk, which earned her a 2008 Primetime Emmy(r) Award nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. Her additional television work includes buzzed-about roles on Masters of Sex, The Good Wife, The Larry Sanders Show, Seinfeld and Mr. Show with Bob and David. Silverman has also hosted a number of major awards shows, including the 2007 MTV Movie Awards and the Independent Spirit Awards.
Silverman grew up in New Hampshire and attended one year of New York University. In 1993 she joined Saturday Night Live as a writer and feature performer and has not stopped working since.
Gal Gadot (voice of Shank) is rapidly emerging as one of Hollywood's most engaging and sought-after talents. She debuted as Diana/Wonder Woman in the blockbuster Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and in 2017, she starred again in the role in the first-ever Wonder Woman feature, which was the highest-grossing film of the season, taking in more than $820 million worldwide. She is currently in production on the highly anticipated sequel, Wonder Woman 1984.
For her role as Diana/Wonder Woman, she won the Rising Star Award at the Palm Springs International Film Festival and the 2018 #SeeHer Award at the Broadcast Film Critics Association Awards. She also won the 2018 MTV Movie + TV Award for Best Fight and the 2017 Teen Choice Award for Choice Movie Actress: Action. Wonder Woman was honoured with the 2017 Spotlight Award by the National Board of Review.
Gadot will star in 20th Century Fox's remake of Death on the Nile, alongside Kenneth Branagh, who will be directing and reprising his role as Poirot. She is set to produce My Dearest Fidel, alongside Sue Kroll and Jaron Varsano. She is also in talks to star in the film, which follows the untold story of how ABC journalist Lisa Howard became one of Fidel Castro's leading American confidants. Gadot will also star in and executive produce a Showtime series based on the life and career of Hedy Lamarr.
In 2019, she will begin production on the Universal Pictures action thriller Red Notice, opposite Dwayne Johnson and directed by Rawson Marshall Thurber.
Last year she starred in the Warner Bros. film Justice League, opposite Henry Cavill, Ben Affleck and Ezra Miller.
Her other film credits include John Hillcoat's Triple 9, with Kate Winslet and Woody Harrelson; Ariel Vromen's action film Criminal, with Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Costner and Gary Oldman; and the comedy Keeping Up with the Joneses, opposite Jon Hamm, Isla Fisher and Zach Galifianakis.
In 2009, Gadot appeared in her first U.S. feature as Gisele, Vin Diesel's love interest in Fast & Furious. She returned as Gisele in Fast Five, Fast & Furious 6 and Furious 7.
Taraji P. Henson (voice of Yesss), Academy Award(r)-nominated and Golden Globe(r)-winning actor, writer and producer, quickly rose to fame after her breakout performance in the critically acclaimed film Hustle & Flow, which earned her and the cast a Screen Actors Guild(r) nomination, as well as won her a BET Award for Best Actress.
Henson currently stars as Cookie Lyon in Fox's hit drama Empire, which has earned her three Emmy(r) nominations, a Golden Globe(r) Award, a Critics' Choice Award and three BET Awards. Prior to Empire, Henson had recurring roles on Person of Interest, Boston Legal and The Division.
In 2017, Henson portrayed NASA mathematician Katherine G. Johnson in the Academy Award(r)-nominated film Hidden Figures. Henson and her cast received a Screen Actors Guild Award(r) for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture for the film. Other credits include Tyler Perry's Acrimony; Proud Mary; Think Like a Man, with Kevin Hart; Think Like a Man Too; Talk to Me, opposite Don Cheadle; Smokin' Aces, with Ben Affleck and Alicia Keys; Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys; Hurricane Season, opposite Forest Whitaker; No Good Deed, starring opposite Idris Elba, which opened No. 1 in the box office; Larry Crowne, with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts; Taken from Me; and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, with Brad Pitt, for which she earned an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Next up, Henson will star in Paramount's What Men Want from director Adam Shankman.
In October 2016, Henson released her New York Times best-selling novel, Around the Way Girl, a memoir about her family and friends, her determination to make it to Hollywood and the importance of living your own truth. In Around the Way Girl, she reminisces on the world-class theater arts education she received at Howard University, and how she chipped away at Hollywood's resistance to give women, especially women of colour, rich and significant roles. With her iconic humour and honesty, Henson shares the struggles and disappointments of an actor's journey and shows audiences that she is ever authentic.
In fall of 2018, Henson launched the Boris Lawrence Henson Foundation in honor of her late father. The organisation provides scholarships to African-American students majoring in mental health, offers mental health services to youth in urban schools and works to lower the recidivism rates of African-American men and women.
Jack Mcbrayer (voice of Felix) is an Emmy(r) nominee for his portrayal of Kenneth Parcell on the multi-award-winning and critically acclaimed series 30 Rock for NBC. He is also known for his work on The Jack and Triumph Show for Universal/Adult Swim, Adult Swim's first half-hour comedy straight-to-series pickup. McBrayer executive produced and starred opposite Robert Smigel. He can be seen in Cooties, opposite Elijah Wood and Rainn Wilson for Lionsgate, which premiered at Sundance. He also starred in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, opposite Jason Segel, directed by Nicholas Stoller and produced by Judd Apatow for Universal.
His other credits include Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, directed and written by Adam McKay and produced by Judd Apatow for Columbia Pictures. He played opposite Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis in The Campaign, directed by Jay Roach for Warner Bros., as well as opposite Bill Hader in The To Do List for CBS Films and They Came Together, opposite Paul Rudd and directed by David Wain for Lionsgate.
McBrayer can also be seen appearing on ABC's The Middle; Comedy Central's Drunk History, opposite Derek Waters; and USA's Playing House, opposite Lennon Parham and Jessica St. Clair. He can also be heard voicing the lead role of Fix-It Felix in Wreck-It Ralph, directed by Rich Moore and produced by Clark Spencer. His other animated film voice credits include Despicable Me for Universal, The Simpsons on Fox and Archer on FX.
Additionally, McBrayer was nominated for a SAG Award(r) for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series for 30 Rock from 2007 through 2013 and won in 2008. He was also nominated for Emmy(r) Awards for both Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for 30 Rock in 2009 and Outstanding Actor in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series in 2016 for Your Pretty Face Is Going to Hell.
Jane Lynch (voice of Calhoun) is the two-time Emmy(r) winning host of Hollywood Game Night and an Emmy and Golden Globe(r) winner for her portrayal of Sue Sylvester on Glee. She currently appears in The Good Fight on CBS and on Amazon's The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Additional television credits include portraying Janet Reno in Manhunt: Unabomber, as well as Criminal Minds, Portlandia, Angel from Hell, Party Down, Lovespring International, Two and a Half Men and The L Word.
Lynch's film credits include Wreck-It Ralph, The Three Stooges, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby, Role Models, Julie & Julia, A Mighty Wind, Best in Show and For Your Consideration.
Emmy(r)-nominated Alan Tudyk (voice of KnowsMore) is a multidimensional actor whose credits span throughout stage, film, television and voice -over entertainment platforms. Over the span of his career, his films have garnered a worldwide box-office total of over $8 billion.
In 2016, Tudyk appeared in Lucasfilm's Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, as the scene-stealing security droid K-2SO. Directed by Gareth Edwards, the film grossed over $1 billion at the global box office and was the first live-action Star Wars spin-off. He also voiced characters in two Academy Award(r)-nominated animated films, playing Duke Weaselton in Disney's Zootopia and the rooster Hei Hei in Disney's Moana.
Tudyk is also the creator and star of the Emmy(r)-nominated, record-breaking series Con Man. Executive produced by Tudyk, Nathan Fillion and author PJ Haarsma, the series was funded via Indiegogo, resulting in a record-breaking $3.2 million donation that had the support of over 46,000 fans from around the world. It debuted on Lionsgate's Comic-Con HQ in 2015. Loosely based on Tudyk's and Fillion's experiences starring in Firefly, Con Man centers on the post-show life of Wray Nerely (Tudyk) of Spectrum, a sci-fi TV series canceled before its time that later became a cult classic beloved by fans. Wray's best friend, Jack Moore (Fillion), co-starred as the series' captain and has gone on to become a major celebrity, while Wray continues to struggle to find his big break. While Jack enjoys the life of an A-lister, Wray is the begrudging guest of sci-fi conventions, comic book store appearances and different pop culture events. The series explores these events and all the crazy and real things that happen behind the scenes in the world of fandom. During the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con convention, it was announced that SYFY would acquire Seasons 1 and 2 of the series, which premiered in September of this year. In 2016, Tudyk, along with Fillion, also launched Con Man: The Game based on the series. The game allows players to build and host their own comic book conventions and can be downloaded for free on iTunes and Google Play.
Tudyk has shown audiences wide versatility in numerous television shows and a plethora of feature films. Most recently he co-starred in the Jay Roach 2015 SAG Award(r)- nominated feature Trumbo, opposite Bryan Cranston, Diane Lane, Helen Mirren, John Goodman, Louis C.K., Michael Stuhlbarg and Stephen Root, as well as 2014's Welcome to Me, with Kristen Wiig. In 2013, Tudyk co-starred in the well-received Jackie Robinson biopic 42, as former Phillies manager Ben Chapman. He made his feature film debut in 1998, when he first appeared opposite Robin Williams in Patch Adams.
Tudyk's role in the Disney animated feature "Wreck-It Ralph" garnered him an Annie Award for his role as King Candy. He returned to the recording booth to voice the Duke of Weselton in Disney's Academy Award(r)-winning Frozen. He continued his work with Walt Disney Animation Studios, voicing Alistair Krei in Big Hero 6, and reprised his role in the Big Hero 6 television series on Disney XD. He can also be heard as Ludo and King Butterfly on the Disney Channel series Star vs. the Forces of Evil. Tudyk has also done voice work for many other features, television shows and video games.
His film credits also include: Wonder Boys, 28 Days, A Knight's Tale, Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story, Death at a Funeral (the original U.K. version), Knocked Up, Tucker and Dale vs Evil, 3:10 to Yuma, Serenity, Premature, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. Additionally, Tudyk motion performed the lead robot, Sonny, in I, Robot, opposite Will Smith.
In television, Tudyk was a series regular on the critically acclaimed ABC comedy Suburgatory, and he reprised his role in the Netflix revival of Arrested Development as Pastor Veal. His work on Joss Whedon's Firefly has been highly lauded by fans and has gained him a strong cult following. Tudyk also appeared in Strangers with Candy, Dollhouse, Frasier and Justified. He also was the host of Newsreaders, written and produced by Rob Corddry and David Wain, on Adult Swim.
Tudyk starred as Van Wayne, the cousin to Bruce Wayne, in NBC's workplace comedy Powerless, opposite Vanessa Hudgens, Danny Pudi and Christina Kirk. Powerless was the first comedy series set in the universe of DC Comics, where the story follows the reality of working life for a normal, powerless person in a world of superheroes and villains. Tudyk appeared in Season 2 of BBC America's Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency as Mr. Priest, a ruthless, dangerous and violent bounty hunter. This series premiered in October 2017.
Tudyk attended the prestigious Juilliard School in New York and has starred on Broadway opposite Kristin Chenoweth in Epic Proportions, and played Lancelot in the original cast of Monty Python's Spamalot, as well as the lead role of Peter in Prelude to a Kiss, opposite John Mahoney. Tudyk appeared on stage next in the role of Norm in Steve Martin's Meteor Shower, with Amy Schumer, Laura Benanti and Keegan-Michael Key. The story centers around a hot night in Ojai, Calif., and Corky (Schumer) and her husband, Norm (Tudyk), are hosting a dinner party for another couple. Eventually, the two couples find themselves in a marital free fall matched in velocity and peril only by the smoldering space rocks tearing through the sky.
Alfred Molina (voice of Double Dan) is an accomplished London-born actor whose diverse and distinguished gallery of performances has led to a lengthy and triumphant career. Some of his most unforgettable performances include portraying hedonistic Mexican muralist Diego Rivera in Frida (2002 SAG Awards(r) nominated for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role); Jewish milkman Tevye in the 2004 Broadway revival of the musical Fiddler on the Roof (Tony(r) nominated for Best Actor); deranged drug dealer Rahad Jackson in the critically acclaimed film Boogie Nights (1997); comic book villain Doc Ock in the blockbuster hit sequel Spider-Man 2 (2004) for director Sam Raimi; and artist Mark Rothko in the John Logan play Red (2009-2010 Tony Award(r) nominated for Best Lead Actor).
Recently, Molina was seen in the Ryan Murphy-directed HBO film The Normal Heart (2014 Emmy(r) nominated for Outstanding Best Supporting Actor); HBO's critically acclaimed miniseries Show Me a Hero (2015) for director Paul Haggis; British period drama miniseries Close to the Enemy for the BBC; Eugene O'Neill's Pulitzer Prize winning drama Long Day's Journey into Night for the Geffen Playhouse (2017); Showtime's comedy-drama series I'm Dying Up Here (2017); and the much-lauded Ryan Murphy-produced FX series Feud: Bette and Joan (2017 Emmy(r) nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor), opposite Jessica Lange and Susan Sarandon.
Up next are feature films Road to Capri, opposite Virginia Madsen; The Devil Has a Name for director Edward James Olmos; The Front Runner for director Jason Reitman; indie film Saint Judy for director Sean Hanish; and animated films Ralph Breaks the Internet for Walt Disney Animation Studios and Henchman for Bron Studios.
Molina most recently wrapped up a run at Wyndham's Theatre in London, where he reprised his role as Mark Rothko in the multi-Tony Award(r)-winning John Logan play Red (2018).