31 Things We Learned About Ralph Breaks The Internet From A Trip To Disney Animation
By Michael Rougeau on
Ralph and Vanellope are back in a new adventure that will take them to the internet.
The original Wreck-It Ralph followed the titular video game antagonist and his candy-themed kart-racing friend Vanellope on their quest to prove Ralph could be a good guy. With that out of the way, Wreck-It Ralph 2, AKA Ralph Breaks the Internet, will take them to the next logical destination for a couple of aging video game characters: the internet.
When Ralph and Vanellope's arcade finally joins this century and gets wi-fi, our heroes quickly realize that the best way to fix up Vanellope's game so it doesn't get sold is to buy the piece she needs--a new steering wheel--on eBay. Naturally, since they can't simply hop into meat space and start placing bids with Mr. Litwak's stolen credit card number, they head to a physical personification of the internet that resembles a bustling city full of net users and "netizens" who do their bidding.
That's just the basic plot, of course, and with the entire internet as its playground, Wreck-It Ralph 2 will no doubt go to some surprising places. We used the opportunity during a visit to Disney Animation Studios to chat with the team making Ralph Breaks the Internet and learn everything we can about the upcoming sequel.
When you're done, check out our breakdowns of the movie's first and second trailers for all the Easter eggs and references you might have missed, read all about Wonder Woman actress Gal Gadot's recently announced role in the film, and watched out for way more Ralph Breaks the Internet coverage here on GameSpot.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is scheduled to hit theaters November 21.
1. The movie's version of the internet is visually based off the 1 Wilshire Blvd. building in Los Angeles.
This building in Los Angeles is apparently where all the internet traffic in North America passes through. "This building is literally filled from top to bottom with wires and boxes," said co-director Rich Moore. "It was this research trip that began to inspire our version of what the internet might look like."
Image: Frederick Dennstedt on Flickr
2. The movie's version of the internet is made up of two types of character.
There are Net Users, and Netizens. Users come from the real world to use the internet, and are represented by square-ish avatars. Netizens are the websites and services they use, and take many forms.
3. Ralph and Vanellope have to venture to the internet when her game breaks.
When Sugar Rush's steering wheel breaks, Litwak realizes it would cost more than the machine makes in a year to fix it. That leaves it up to Ralph and Vanellope to head to the internet and find the wheel on eBay, which of course leads to plenty of hijinks.
4. Sonic the Hedgehog will return in Ralph 2.
When Ralph and Vanellope first venture to the internet, Ralph makes a reference to Sonic warning them what it would be like. We didn't get to see that scene, but it sounds like Sonic will return for another cameo.
Image: Sonic's cameo in Ralph 1
5. They got the world's great auctioneer to play the role of an eBay auction.
Brian Curless, AKA the reigning US auctioneering champion, lent his considerable vocal talents to the movie for a scene where Ralph and Vanellope visit eBay.
6. The movie will address the internet's dark side as well as what's good about it.
"As we were thinking about how to portray the internet, we thought, 'We don't want to just show what's good about the internet. We felt we had a responsibility to talk about those things that are complicated on the internet," said co-director Rich Moore. At one point, Ralph discovers the comments section. It goes as well as you'd expect.
7. Vanellope is glitching in the movie.
This "ability" is what allows her to teleport into the princess room in the Oh My Disney scene.
8. The princesses will don customized t-shirts.
It turns out they greatly enjoy Vanellope's casual fashion sense--especially Ariel, who attempts to sing a song about her new discovery, the t-shirt. Each princess's shirt is customized for her, like a poison apple for Snow White's.
9. They got the princesses' original voice actors (where possible) to return for that scene.
"It was an incredible moment, truly, truly amazing," said co-director Rich Moore.
10. C-3PO makes a cameo too.
Although there's no Princess Leia in the Disney princesses scene, C-3PO does have a cameo at the end of the scene. It's unknown whether he'll play any larger role in the movie.
11. They didn't get licensing rights for any of the brands used in the movie.
"Over the course of making the film, we said to ourselves, 'We're creating the internet, and all of us use it every day, so we should populate it with the actual websites we go to,'" said producer Clark Spencer. "Because of copyright, we could put them into the film without actually having to go to the companies. So we didn't approach them...there wasn't a case where somebody said they didn't want to participate, because we didn't actually have to go and ask for permission."
12. The internet companies and logos used include brands from all over the world.
"We said to ourselves, 'Let's make the internet be the internet we know, and put in everything that we know about it,'" said producer Clark Spencer. "And that included actually going to all of our different parts of our company around the world, and saying to them, 'Give us brands from your own parts of the world.' We wanted the world wide web to feel like the world wide web."
13. The reception to Zootopia made them more confident about this movie.
"To some extent the three of us were emboldened by the work on Zootopia, knowing that audiences are OK and actually eager for a more sophisticated approach in family films to tricky subject matter, like in Zootopia it was racism, in this one we're dealing to an extent with online bullying and trolling," said producer Clark Spencer. "But more on an emotional level with Ralph, just self doubt, and insecurity, and all those things I think parents and kids can relate to."
14. They felt it was important for them to make fun of Disney's own characters.
"It felt like, if everyone else does it, why shouldn't we?" said co-director Rich Moore. "And we could do it better than other places, because those are our characters and we know them intimately...why not have fun at our own expense?"
15. The Disney princesses scene started as an idea about a Buzzfeed quiz.
"It started as this idea of wouldn't it be funny if somehow, Ralph was taking one of those kind of quizzes or tests of like, 'Are you an Anna or an Elsa?' and he and Vanellope getting into an argument over it," said co-director Rich Moore. "And we thought, 'Well, wouldn't it be funny if somehow Anna and Elsa are there?'" From there they conceived of a scene where multiple Disney princesses were present, and how Vanellope would react to meeting them.
16. They had to be tactful when proposing the princesses scene within Disney.
"If we were to go and talk to people and say, 'We're thinking of this scene where we make fun of the Disney princesses,' you know, that could be met with a little bit of resistance," said co-director Rich Moore. "But to actually do an animatic of it and be able to show it and say, 'This is what it's going to be, and it's funny, and respectful, and irreverent all at the same time,' it's hard to argue that that isn't working. Once everyone saw it, everyone [was on board]."
Image: Directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston
19. Fix-It Felix and Calhoun return from the first movie, although their role is very different.
Ralph breaks the internet may put its focus on Ralph and Vanellope as the heroes once again, but Calhoun (Jane Lynch) and Felix (Jack McBrayer) return in the sequel as well. This time around, they take on a pseudo-parenting role for Vanellope's fellow racers when their game, Sugar Rush, breaks down.
18. Co-director Phil Johnston drew from his experience collecting clown paintings from the internet.
Johnston cited his expertise with online auction sites thanks to an obsession with buying clown paintings. "I have north of 200 clown paintings that have come from eBay, Etsy," Johnston said. He said he received several from John C. Reilly, who also collects clown paintings, when Reilly's wife made him get rid of some.
Image: A sad clown
19. Marvel will be represented somehow in the movie.
"It's represented pretty well as both kind of characters in the OH My Disney scene, and little avatars that are kind of 'cosplaying' as Marvel characters," said co-director Rich Moore.
20. They've come to view the first movie's ending as a little "dysfunctional."
"The first movie wrapped up pretty nicely with Ralph's line, which is, 'If that kid likes me, how bad can I be?'" co-director Phil Johnston said. "Which, at the time we made it, felt like a very sweet sentiment. However, as we started poking around at that idea, it's actually a little bit dysfunctional that Ralph is defining himself based on how another person feels about him. And so we were like, 'Well, Ralph still has some work to do.'"
"What is the worst place you could put someone who defines himself by how other people think of him? The internet," co-director Rich Moore added.
21. They were mindful of not using memes or internet references that were too fleeting.
"We knew when we started working on the movie, that the internet--or the things, the tropes of the internet--would not be the same that day as when the movie came out," said co-director Rich Moore. "So there would be moments where people would come up to us and say like, 'You know what you've got to put in there? Ken Bone! He's huge on the internet, this guy's big.' It's like, no one remembers Ken Bones today. It's so fleeting...so we decided we need to just kind of concentrate on the pillars of the internet, of social media, shopping, entertainment, [and online gaming]."
22. Ralph goes to the "Dark Web" at some point.
"We imagine that our city is basically floating above this big abyss, which is the deep web, and at the very bottom of it, we imagine that all the discarded and outdated stuff sort of collects at the bottom," described Matthias Lechner, the art director on the movie's environments. Even further down, at the bottom of an encrypted elevator, is the "dark web" where the users are all anonymous, and where stuff is probably going to get weird for Ralph.
23. A crazy number of artists worked on the internet.
There are so many posters, animations, and other small design touches all over the internet that at one point, they had every single artist in the studio working on it.
Image: Concept art
24. The art/environments team visited the Disneyland Dream Suite for inspiration.
The Dream Suite is a private apartment at Disneyland that few get to visit.
Image: Ken Lund on Flickr
25. The environments team created 150 master sets (unique environments) and 5736 unique assets.
There are roughly 100,000 elements in any given city shot, which all adds up to 1.9 million render hours per day to create the movie.
26. The environments team had to let go of "logic" to make the city better.
"The thing is, we didn't really build the internet," described Matthias Lechner, the art director on the movie's environments. "Everybody knows the internet, and it's not [a city]. So at some point, the city just becomes itself, and you just have to make it believable and make the audience buy it. But we just let go of logic at some point and do what works, what looks good."
27. The story team went through many kinds of memes.
At one point in Ralph Breaks the Internet, Ralph and Vanellope will go viral. The story team had to come up with memes that would help them along the way. They tried "two kinds of people" memes with Ralph and Vanellope, as well as a "meme factory" that pumped out memes using randomized combinations of words and phrases like "otter disco party" and "liger wedding photobomb."
28. Ralph Breaks the Internet has many more characters than previous Disney Animation movies.
Bolt had 57 characters total. Wreck-It Ralph had 223 characters, with 421 variants (similar models with altered clothes, hair, etc.). Zootopia had 182 characters with 687 variants. Ralph Breaks the Internet? 434 characters, 6752 variants, plus "color swings" (different skin, hair, and clothes colors and patterns), which equals 500,000+ options.
29. The character Yesss was modeled visually after Cruella de Vil.
The character design team modeled parts of Yesss's look, including the way she walks and the way her jacket moves, after Cruella de Vil, since both characters are considered fashionable.
30. The character Knowsmore originally had a much larger part in the story.
And they played around with making him an owl instead of a tiny know-it-all man.
31. Ralph Breaks the Internet co-writer Pamela Ribon also voices Snow White.
They got as many original Disney princess voice actors as they could to return to their roles for the Oh My Disney scene, but for some that wasn't an option. Co-writer Pamela Ribon did the "scratch" voice performance for the princesses in the scene, and her impression of Snow White was so good, they wound up using it for the final version.