Ralph Breaks The Internet Interview: New York Comic Con 2018

Ralph Breaks the Internet is the sequel to Wreck-It Ralph and is the 57th animated feature from the Disney Studios. It is directed by Rich Moore and Phil Johnston, who helped make Wreck-It Ralph and Zootopia.  Josie Trinidad is the Head of Story for Ralph and also worked on Wreck-It Ralph, Tangled, and The Princess and the Frog. Dani Fernandez is a writer, actress, and internet personality who voices herself in Ralph Breaks the Internet.  In Ralph Breaks the Internet, Ralph and Vanellope need to keep Vanellope’s game Sugar Rush from being scrapped.  The duo journey into the Internet to find a rare replacement part that can fix her game.

Screen Rant: Ralph Breaks the Internet. Funny here at New York Comic Con Ralph saved the internet for me. Because the wifi...Ralph breaks the he saved the internet for me. So I thought that was pretty cool

Rich Moore: Good for us.

SR: Good for you guys.

Rich Moore: You're welcome.

SR: Thank you. Dani this must be a dream come true for you because it was just revealed today that you are in the film...

Dani Fernandez: Yes, I know and I got to see it live with everyone else!

SR: How amazing, right?

Dani Fernandez: It was so exciting. And I love her so much already. And I'm so excited for my niece to see it too. As she loves Moana, so I know she is going to love seeing me in it.

SR: Disney has a great tradition when it comes to animation and I know a lot of hard research goes into this and I heard that there was a building in downtown L.A. that was kinda scouted for what the inside of the internet would look like. Can you guys chat me up about that?

Rich Moore: Well you're an L.A. guy right?

SR: I'm an L.A. guy but I've never been in said building .

Rich Moore: But you've seen it before, 1 Wilshire?

SR: I've seen it yeah.

Rich Moore: It sits right at the foot of Wilshire. That building it has no people in it except for some tech, a few...maybe a handful of technicians. It is several stories of just servers and wires. It's packed. 20 stories packed with servers, so many if they put one more in there it will get so hot, the building will burst into flames.

SR: Really?

Rich Moore: It's true! And companies rent space in the servers to get kind of the internet closer to the users on the west coast. Siri is there. I think the Waze matrix is there. Netflix is there. YouTube is there.

SR: Let me say Rich and Phil. You guys look glorious right now with the sun beaming on your beautiful faces.

Dani Fernandez: You know how those Youtubers have the Glow light? You guys don't even need it...You're in an Instagram filter

Rich Moore: I call it sunset. From that sun that's setting.

SR: I want to talk about the character Yesss. Taraji P. Henson, she is great but talk to about this character and what inspired Yesss...

Josie Trinidad: Yesss, with three S's. So Yesss is an algorithm of Buzz Tube. It's a video kind of sharing site, social media kind of sharing site. And she...what is she...Her brain is a miracle...She knows what's dope

Rich Johnston: Yeah, there was a very early iteration of her when we were just reading pages and coming up with the character. Then when we decided she's a miracle and her brain is dope is just something she said...because she's an algorithm, she know everything, she's up to the minute on everything. And not quite the arrogance of Kanye [West], but almost that level of self-confidence...super super confidence.

SR: Second interview in a row where Kanye West came up.

Rich Johnston: Oh man.

Dani Fernandez: Part of the zeitgeist.

SR: I know that this film is going to have Ralph try to become an internet sensation. You are an internet sensation, if you had to give Ralph a word of advice what would that be?

Dani Fernandez: Don't read the comments. Don't read the comments. Seriously. Or hire someone who will just read the good ones to you.

Rich Moore: There must be professional comment readers?

Dani Fernandez: One hundred percent my friends have assistants that do that. But I don't know..Don't take things too seriously and sometimes that's a vocal minority. And that doesn't always reflect...That's what I like about Comic Con... It's real people. Real faces. No one's behind a screen and everybody's just being super friendly to each other.

SR: The internet's a big place obviously and I know that even in some of the trailers and some of the stuff I've seen I know that we go to 'Oh My Disneyland'?

Rich Moore: Oh My Disney, it's a fan site.

SR: Oh My Disney which looks amazing. We already know that we are going to get all the iconic princesses. Even on the outside there's Star Wars stuff, some Marvel stuff. What went into that creation because I'm really excited for the whole scene to play out because I've only seen bits of it, but I haven't seen the whole thing...

Rich Moore: I mean it's a really good scene. It actually was kind of inspired Comic Con.

SR: Was it really?

Rich Moore: Yeah a little bit. Disney has it's own kind of Comic Con called D23. Where it is that superfans, just like the people here, come to experience all things Disney. And the website, Oh My Disney dot com, the actual site is kind of a continuation of that. It's quizzes and tests and things like that and lists. But it has some of that feeling, that energy that D23 Expo or Comic Con has. It's everything Disney at this website including things that you wouldn't really expect that are there, such as The Golden Girls. I mean it's like The Golden Girls are a huge component of this website.

SR: Is that known? I didn't know about The Golden Girls. Exclusive!

Rich Moore: Yes. Golden Girls are Disney! Buena Vista Television I guess produced it. And so we thought when we were making the movie, 'Well it's on the website. Why don't we try putting it in?' And we got so many comments from our colleagues asking 'Why are The Golden Girls at the website?' It's what everyone said to the point where we were like 'It's not very well known, so maybe as much we love 'em, as much as we love the Girls, we don't know if they are appropriate.'

Phil Johnston: What animator doesn't have the dream as a child of animating Rue McClanahan?

SR: Bea Arthur?

Phil Johnston: I mean it would be a dream.

Josie Trinidad: I did watch a lot of Golden Girls growing up.

Rich Moore: We refer to it as the Bea Arthur of it all.

SR: Chat me up about...Because obviously like Ebay being an auction house I think is brilliant. What were some of the harder things to adapt when you knew that you're going to go around different places in the internet?

Phil Johnston: Honestly one of the hardest things. Probably the hardest thing was coming up with these videos that Ralph is making. There were times when we thought alright we are going to do wholly original things. We are going to create new memes that are going to become viral. And they were so dumb and so lame.

SR: And how many involved cats also?

Phil Johnston: Yeah there are a lot of cats. But cats are eternal. There will always be a lot of cats on the internet. Yeah but coming up with videos that feel fresh and original and ultimately we were able to just kind of be on the nose about it. Like Ralph is pretty much saying, 'I will just do whatever is popular. I will just copy the popular stuff.' So we kind of took the easy route out a little bit on it. But I still think that there's some really funny stuff in there.

SR: A character that I haven't seen much of is Fix-It-Felix. Where's he at in all of this?

Rich Moore: Felix and Calhoun have a pretty big role in this movie that when Penelope's game gets unplugged...that's why they are actually going to the internet because the steering wheel, the console has been broken off and they find out that there's replacement at Ebay. And not only is Penelope game less, or homeless. So are the hundreds of characters that live in Sugar Rush, including the other racers. Who are these kind of hellions, you know, out of their game. So Felix and Calhoun are kind of the adoptive parents of these kids. So they are in charge of kind of keeping everything, you know, calm at home. While Ralph and Penelope go off on this adventure, so we get to see kind of their parenting style with these kids.

SR: I love it. Can we talk about Sugar Rush real quick, because I have to ask. First of all, in the first film that J-pop song that's in there might be the most catchy thing that I've heard in my entire life...

Rich Moore: It took me years to kind of clear it out of the head.

SR: Can we expect any other musical cues?

Rich Moore: Dude, you have no idea! Do you want to speak to that?

Phil Johnston: No, it's secret.

SR: You gave me one!

Phil Johnston: There's some really good music and some very surprising music in this movie.

SR: Josie can you talk to me about the creation process when it comes to these guys. How does that all work with story and how you guys lay it all out? And who's in that room generally and just the creativity and synergy you have?

Josie Trinindad: Yeah, I'm the head of the story on Ralph Breaks the Internet. And I work alongside a very smart and very funny guy named Jim Reardon, who's the director of story. And Jim and I have this team of story artists and it's about ten people and we help Rich and Phil visualize their film. So we have Phil's script and we storyboard. Storyboards are like loose, rough, comic book-like drawings.and we storyboard the entire film.

SR: And that's with voices as well when you do the presentation...

Josie Trinindad: Yeah, some of those voices are us. You know because it's really early on, so we are about maybe 2 or 3 years out and we just want to try things you know? We don't know if things are going to stick. We know generally, but you know, we're experimenting. We're workshopping. So we put up a screening in a couple of months and it's temp tracks, temp dialogue, and we show it internally in our studio and we get some notes from our story trust. And then we kind of tear it apart again

Rich Moore: And do it all over again.

Josie Trinidad: Exactly, so we board the movie many times, like 8 or 9 times before the audience gets to see it. In fact, on this movie we drew about 283,839 storyboards.

SR: Wow, that's a pretty exact number. That's crazy.

Phil Johnston: About...

Josie Trinidad: So it's an incredible feat...

Rich Moore: Way back when, I think Wall-E used to hold like the record of 100,000 storyboards so we...I mean...

Phil Johnston: We are a whole lot less efficient than those guys.

SR: So speaking of that I know that you said you use different voices and sometimes it's you guys. Now with the Snow White character in particular, I know that you guys brought back most of the princesses but I believe that that's somebody that actually works with you at Snow White is that correct?

Phil Johnston: Well yeah. Pam Ribbon is my co-writer and basically when we're doing the scratch track, as Josie was talking about, there are four people that do the whole movie, Rich, Me, Josie, and Pam, do all of the voices all of the time. Until it's ready for actors. And so, Pam had done every single one of the princesses, until the real performers were coming in to do it. And her Snow White was really fantastic and she had a big hand in the creation of that scene and the jokes you know. We listened to her voice and just thought that it was great. And because the original Snow White is obviously no longer with us, she felt like a natural fit for it.

SR: Amazing. Well guys, Ralph fixed my internet this weekend, but he's going to break it very soon for everyone else. Thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it. I can't wait to see the film.

More: Why Make A Wreck-it Ralph Sequel?

Key Release Dates
  • Ralph Breaks the Internet/Wreck-It Ralph 2 (2018) release date: Nov 21, 2018
GameStop Store Redesign
GameStop's Leaked Redesign Looks Nothing Like GameStop (& That's Great)

More in Interviews