It's hard to believe that it's been four years since Wreck-It Ralph opened up in theaters. The Disney film saw the titular character Ralph, a villain in a popular arcade game, trying to prove that just because he's a "bad guy" doesn't mean he's a bad guy. Ralph does this by going on a journey to retrieve a medal of valor from the game Hero's Journey, something that only good guys are awarded.
Now, four years later, Disney has finally announced that a sequel to Wreck-It Ralph is in development! Wreck-It Ralph 2 is officially coming to theaters on March 9, 2018. But while you wait TWO MORE YEARS for one of the most-anticipated Disney sequels of all time, why not re-watch the first one and appreciate its many qualities?
After all, Wreck-It Ralph is that special kind of movie that appeals to several demographics (something Disney is an expert at). It does this by choosing a topic everyone can get behind; video games!
The wonderfully animated Disney movie captured the interest of many viewers thanks to its comedy, great cast, and nostalgic value, resulting in something we'd all been waiting a long time for; a good video game movie!
Wreck-It Ralph manages to mix video games with good old fashioned nostalgia by including as many eye-catching '80s gaming cameos as it possibly can! The cameos are a big part of the movie, with Ralph coming face-to-face with such classic gaming icons as Sonic the Hedgehog and Qbert. But the story of how Disney got the rights to feature these characters is arguably just as interesting as the movie itself.
How The Wreck-It Ralph Team Filled The Film With Cameos!
Wreck-It Ralph features a variety of amazing cameos, with some of gaming's greatest occupying the hidden world within Litwak's Family Fun Center. The film even features a scene filled with video game villains, such as Bowser, M. Bison and Doctor Eggman, attending a "bad guys support group".
As you can probably imagine, getting these cameos was not easy, and in order to get the movie they wanted made, the team behind Wreck-It Ralph had to impress a lot of big gaming industry developers. But before we get into that, let's take a little necessary detour into the origins of Wreck-It Ralph itself, in order to better understand why these cameos weren't just wanted in the film—they were needed!
Ralph's '80s Beginnings
Wreck-It Ralph wasn't originally going to be a big throwback to 1980s video games, it was just going to be a video game movie made in the '80s. Disney had been experimenting with the idea of making a video game movie, but rather than make one based off of an existing property, they decided to cut the middle man and just go with something original.
The result was High Score, which at the time, was just a name with a few ideas wrapped around it. High Score was originally going to be about Fix-It Felix (or whatever the character was called during their initial planning phase), rather than Ralph. However, as time went on, ideas for the film changed, and the title changed to fit those ideas. High Score became Joe Jump in the '90s, before Disney realized that they wanted to tell the story from a villain's perspective, and changed it to Reboot Ralph in the mid-2000s.
At this point, more than two whole decades had gone by, but Disney wasn't ready to give up on Ralph's story yet- they just needed something interesting to attach to it! Somewhere during the Reboot Ralph phase of the film, they found that something; video game character cameos! Inspired by the success of films like Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Toy Story (a movie that was being developed around the same time as Wreck-It Ralph), Disney decided to make a video game movie full of awesome cameos to really bring in the crowd!
The Hard Part
After years and years of planning, the concept of Wreck-It Ralph was finally coming to fruition! Now, it was up to producer Clark Spencer and director Richard Moore to bring Disney's venture into the video game movie genre to life. But they would soon find out that such a task was easier said than done.
See, Disney's ambition to make a movie full of video game crossovers meant that they needed to get permission. They needed to ask for the rights to show several different video game characters in their movie. In order to get this insanely difficult task completed, Spence and Moore headed to the one place where tons of big name gaming industry members met on a yearly basis; E3.
Spencer and Moore headed to E3 2010, in the hopes that the premise of their movie would capture the attention of the video game developers they had in mind. Luckily, with Wreck-It Ralph being in production for so long, they had more than just a name and a simple idea to present to Nintendo, SEGA, and others.
As Clark Spencer put it:
“The movie was far enough along that not only could we pitch the story, but we could actually show storyboards with their characters as part of the film. I think, visually, when you see something, you start to think, ‘That’s funny. That will be a great integration of our character into this movie.'”
But Spencer and Moore were still making a video game movie, something that a lot of video game developers had already burned themselves trying to do. Spencer and Moore had to convince these developers to put their faith, and their characters, into another video game movie. They promised them that they would maintain complete control over their characters, and that they would get a look at every step of the process of integrating them into the movie.
In the end, what really attributed to the success of Wreck-It Ralph were the movies that inspired its final version. Toy Story and Who Framed Roger Rabbit proved to many studios that crossovers and cameos could work, and when the game developers at E3 saw what Disney had cooking, they were more than willing to cooperate with them for Wreck-It Ralph!
To Spencer and Moore's surprise, many of the companies actually said yes, assured that the film would be of great quality under the Walt Disney name. However, the hard part was far from over, as protective companies like Nintendo made sure to send as many notes as they could to assure that their character were being used properly.
Spencer: “With Nintendo, we sent the Bowser scenes back and forth to say, ‘Are we being true to your character? And they would give us notes, and we’d address those notes, and then we’d send it back to Nintendo and they’d give us [more] notes. They would talk about the mouth shapes. There was too much attention to detail in the mouth shapes. They would say, ‘That’s not how Bowser moves.’ And that’s a good note for them to be giving back to us, to stay true to the character.”
Wreck-It Ralph 2 is coming in 2018 hopefully with even more epic gaming cameos and references! Until then, we should all take a look back at the first Wreck-It Ralph, and appreciate the long and difficult journey its creators went through to get it made!