The idea for Ralph Breaks the Internet came shortly after making the first film. Directors Phil Johnston and Rich Moore wanted to revisit this world and these characters, but was there a reason be to make a sequel since the first film wrapped up so nicely? Also remember, Walt Disney Animation Studios doesn’t make many theatrically released sequels. This is the 57th theatrical feature from Disney Animation and only the second intended theatrical sequel in the company’s history (following Fantasia 2000 and to be followed by Frozen 2).
So in order to make a sequel, the idea had to be good enough to convince Disney brass to pull the trigger. Here’s the story of how that idea came about and how the filmmakers behind Zootopia will be tackling another important issue in this sequel.
How Zootopia Changed Ralph
In 2014, Johnston and Moore were developing the earliest ideas for a Ralph sequel with a small team when a non-literal fire broke out elsewhere at the studio. Production on Zootopia was not going smoothly, and like a lot of animated films, the story wasn’t working. However, what made this unusual was that it wasn’t working so late into production. They were a little more than a year away from the film hitting theaters nationwide and Moore was part of the Disney story trust that director Byron Howard turned to for guidance:
“There came a point where like Byron said, that we’re not liking Nick anymore,” Rich told me at the Zootopia junket. “Now he seems sad. Now he seems so oppressed the Jason’s not shining in it. And Ginnifer [Goodwin]‘s character seems kind of ignorant. How could this bunny who’s been raised in this method of collaring people, how do you care about her, she was like the Man. It’s like she never questioned like, is this right? That half of our population wears collars. So there was a big moment kind of a come to Jesus moment of saying like I think we need to try a version without these collars.”
The complete reworking of the film’s plot would require Moore to put down his work on the Ralph sequel and co-direct Zootopia with Howard:
“And that’s when John [Lasseter] asked me and this was in the fall of 2014. And we had about 16 months. In the film’s life it was late. Because parts of it were already in production. So but John said, will you jump on board since you know the movie intimately? Will you jump on and you have a sense of what the task is? Will you jump on? … I was [working on my own project]. And I said, absolutely, because that’s what we do at the studio. That’s if it’s all hands on deck, we put down what we’re doing and come to be to the service of the movie that’s kind of next in the line.”
Moore was pulled over to help save Zootopia and production on Wreck-It Ralph 2 was put on hold until he was able to return. And when he did return following the enormous success of Zootopia, it helped inspire the vision for the movie that became Ralph Breaks the Internet.
The Idea for the Sequel
The idea for the sequel came from a line in the first film. Ralph says “If that kid liked me, how bad can I be?” The line was originally intended to be nothing more than “very sweet sentiment,” but as the filmmakers thought more about it, the concept of the sequel emerged.
They understood that it is a little dysfunctional that Ralph was defining himself based on how others think of him, and what would be the worst place for that type of person? The internet. Ralph’s journey as a person is far from finished and as we’ll find out in this sequel, the same is true of Vanellope.
Even though this is a Disney movie, don’t expect the internet to be all candy-coated. Remember, these are the same filmmakers that tackled Zootopia in a bold, socially-conscious way. Director Rich Moore felt they had a responsibility to talk not just about the good, but also the more complicated parts of the internet.
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