How Ralph breaks the internet created its epic Disney Princess scene
The internet is like the Wild West. There are no rules, and anonymity provides the perfect cover for those who want run amok. Sounds like the perfect place for Ralph.
Ralph Breaks the Internet is the follow-up to 2012’s hugely successful Wreck-It Ralph. In this eagerly awaited sequel, Ralph, the not-so-bad guy of Fix-It Felix, wants to help Vanellope, his friend from the Sugar Rush racing game, find a new piece for her arcade cabinet. Without it, arcade owner Litwack will be forced to scrap the game. The piece is only available from eBay, and it is a lot of money. Ralph and Vanellope are let loose in the internet to earn enough money to pay for the piece.
One of the best clips released from the film has Vanellope meeting all the classic Disney princesses. While at an early press day at Disney Studios, we got to see an extended version of this clip, and yes, it gets even better. Vanellope decides that the princesses are not living their best lives when they are mystified by her comfy hoodie and leggings. So she – and the princesses – create their own line of comfy-casual clothing. The highlight of the day was seeing the shirts that Ami Thompson, art director of characters, created for the princesses.
“This was the most exciting thing we had ever worked on,” Thompson enthused.
The princesses were only ever seen in dresses; Thompson and her team got to come up with a whole new line of clothing for them. They started by putting them in pajamas, but then Thompson and her team decided that was too relaxed. “Instead, we decided to go closer to what Vanellope is wearing,” Thompson said.
“Our whole crew came up with the idea for the shirts,” Thompson explained. “Each shirt is based on a reference to their film.”
Sleeping Beauty wears a shirt that says “Nap Queen.” Merida has a t-shirt with a bear on it, that says “Mum” underneath. Cinderella’s shirt has a picture of a pumpkin coach, with the characters “G2G” inside it. Elsa’s shirt says “Just Let It Go.” Snow White’s shirt has a picture of the poison apple on it.
Recreating the classic Disney Princesses for Ralph Breaks the Internet wasn’t as easy as just copying each original design.
“Our main challenge was to make sure the princesses looked like they belonged in the same world,” Thompson told us. After all, there are over 60 years of animation style represented in these girls, from basic pencil and ink drawings, to ever-evolving computer graphics. “Some are really realistic, and some are kind of cartoony.” Thompson and her team worked together, with the directors, to create the CG look of the classic princesses.
Kira Lehtomaki, the co-head of animation, then had to figure out how all these princesses moved.
“We all had a princesspalooza lab, where we all got together to help build these princesses. We got the modelers and the riggers and simulation artists, all guiding the design of these women. Us animators were researching. Research is everything, so we went to the source. We went to Disneyland and spoke to the princesses themselves. We asked them questions and studied their gestures.”
In keeping with the theme of making the Disney Princesses as real as possible, all the original actors returned to voice their characters: Paige O’Hara as Belle; Irene Bedard as Pocahontas; Linda Larkin as Jasmine; Jodi Benson as Ariel; Anika Noni Rose as Tiana; Idina Menzel as Elsa; Auli’i Cravalho as Moana; Ming-Na Wen as Mulan; Kelly Macdonald as Merida; Kristen Bell as Anna; and Mandy Moore as Rapunzel.
“Now they all have to be in one room together. It was a bit of a brainteaser, figuring out who would stand next to who,” Lehtomaki continued. She admitted the animators had an “unconventional” way of figuring this out: they used Disney dolls, action figures, collectibles… whatever you want to call it. But they got to sit around and play with toys as part of their job. “When it comes to animating, we always reference the original material,” she assured us. So apparently her job isn’t solely to play with toys.
There is one, iconic princess, new to Disney, that was not included in this group: Princess Leia. Pamela Ribon, one of the co-writers of Ralph Breaks the Internet, said that she thinks of the Disney Princesses as the ones from the Disney animated films. “Vanellope is of this house; would she stand next to these princesses? I didn’t see Princess Leia in this room because she is not who I see Vanellope talking to.” In other words, Princess Leia wasn’t victimized like all the other Disney Princesses.
Ralph Breaks the Internet opens in theaters November 21st.