Sunday, July 12, 2015

Breaking Bricks: Is 'Wreck-It Ralph 2' Moving Forward?

For a while, a sequel to Walt Disney Animation Studios' video game adventure Wreck-It Ralph was hinted at...

Not too long after Wreck-It Ralph debuted in the fall of 2012, director/Simpsons alumnus Rich Moore showed enthusiasm for doing a sequel, saying that he had wanted Mario to make an appearance this time around. He also mentioned a game that was removed from the first film, a sort-of social media-type game called Extreme EZ Livin' 2, and those comments sort of implied that the scrapped element could make it into the sequel. Not dissimilar to Pixar digging up scrapped Toy Story ideas and repurposing them for the two sequels...

So at that point, we knew that a sequel was possible...

In April 2014, the film's composer Henry Jackman (who also did the score for Big Hero 6) said in an interview that the sequel was indeed being written. Beyond that, we heard little else. Disney never officially announced it, and a certain someone who is in the know about Disney Animation arguably implied on twitter recently that there's a possibility that it won't move forward. By this point, however, we knew it existed. So at least we knew/know that...

To me, it seems like Moore was always gung-ho for a second Wreck-It Ralph film, but Disney Animation won't move forward on it until the story and script are to their liking. They don't want a rushjob nor do they want something that isn't all that good, especially since Wreck-It Ralph was critically acclaimed and seemed like the winner of the Oscar. (Remember how frustrated a lot of us were when Brave got the Oscar instead?)

Plus, Mr. Moore has been occupied for a little while. He moved on to directing Zootopia, the Hat Building's next feature, which is nearing completion.

However, him directing that feature raises a few questions...

How long has he been directing/working on that film? This past March, it was announced that he was directing the film alongside Byron Howard, the Tangled director who had been working on the project from the start. In fact, he and his directing partner Nathan Greno had pitched it to John Lasseter in early 2011, right after the success of their fairy tale adventure-comedy that became the studio's biggest hit in over a decade.

By mid-2012, it seemed like Greno left the project to pursue his own at the studio, that would of course be the still-not-yet-announced Giants. (Or maybe it has, depending on who you believe. Apparently Mr. Lasseter let it slip in Tokyo last autumn.) Wreck-It Ralph was completed around that time, so did Moore get the Zootopia gig right away? Or did Disney give it to him just recently? That's up in the air, but if Mr. Moore got onboard U.S.S. Zootopia sometime in fall 2013, that would explain why Ralphy's second outing stalled.

I think he got the gig after August 2013, because when the film was unveiled at the 2013 D23 Expo, no mention of him was made...

I mean, it seems like it has taken the sequel quite a while to gel, as it has almost been three years since the original opened. Again, this indicates that Moore started working on Zootopia very early on. Much earlier than this past March, or March of last year even!

You would think that Disney would've announced a Wreck-It Ralph sequel in some way, even if it wasn't going to be ready for a little while. After all, Wreck-It Ralph was a box office success and the Lasseter-run studio's second hit after 2010's Tangled. That being said, out of the four recent hits, it was the lowest grossing entry. Maybe the incentive to make a sequel wasn't as high, especially when one of those four hit films happened to become one of the highest-grossing films of all-time. It's no surprise Frozen 2 got announced first, but even then, they waited a year and a half to officially confirm its existence. You would think that any company would get on that very early on...

So, what's happening with Wreck-It Ralph 2 now? We might have an idea...

A little tidbit that surfaced today implies that the film is indeed going to happen! An Irish radio show called RTE Arena interviewed Ralph's voice himself, John C. Reilly. The show's producer, Penny Hart, said on her twitter that Reilly mentioned that he has signed on for the sequel!

Some would say "take that with a grain of salt", and I can see why. It's kind of a low-key way to announce "There's a Wreck-It Ralph 2 coming and I'm signed on for it!" But Reilly said he has signed on for it, so that means it's definitely a go. Remember back in mid-2012 when reports said that Albert Brooks and Ellen DeGeneres signed on for Finding Dory? Pixar didn't officially announce the film until April 2013. With this announcement, I expect Disney to announce Wreck-It Ralph 2 sometime soon.

This kind of "low-key announcement" thing has happened before though, and I think that the film is coming despite what might've been said before. I don't think Disney Animation cares about getting sequels out in a hurry, for Frozen 2 is going to open in 2018 at the earliest (possibly 2017 if some particular shuffling with Pixar happens), landing it roughly five years after its predecessor. With Disney, if it's hot, it'll probably remain hot for a long while. Hey, Alice in Wonderland's sequel is arriving next summer, that's over six years after the first one blew up the box office! People are still raving about Frozen, from my end. If the second film comes out in 2018, it'll still make serious bank both domestically and worldwide.

Wreck-It Ralph was not a super-smash hit on the level of Frozen, but it was a very big hit in its own right and I'd like to think that it continues to be a popular film to this day. Disney may not aggressively push it in your face all the time, but it doesn't seem like the film has faded away, and thankfully so if that's the case. I consider Wreck-It Ralph to be the best out of the Lasseter-era films (that's right, not Frozen!), and it's arguable that the film set up a big world that should be explored in sequels or other media. I mean, the film is set in an arcade. There are home games, mobile games, console games, there is much potential there! So much to explore! Hey, if Moore himself wants to do a sequel, I say let him!

Right now, it seems like a good chunk of Walt Disney Animation Studios' slate is locked down. Zootopia and Moana have been set in stone for a while, and it seems very likely that Giants will be their spring 2018 release with either Frozen 2 or Dean Wellins' film following in fall 2018. Right now, they don't have a film set for 2017 because Pixar is hogging both prime slots up that year. It's very possible that Disney Animation might end up getting the November 2017 slot, if Pixar were to budge. If that doesn't happen, then maybe this could be the plan...

Zootopia - 3/4/2016
Moana - 11/23/2016
Giants - 3/9/2018
Either Frozen 2 or Untitled Dean Wellins - 11/21/2018
Either Frozen 2 or Untitled Dean Wellins - 2019

That would mean that Wreck-It Ralph 2 would open sometime in 2019 or 2020 (!), roughly 7-8 years after its predecessor. That seems like quite a long wait... But would it even matter, box office-wise? Would a wait hurt Wreck-It Ralph 2's chances at doing well? Or would it only increase demand? I don't know, maybe some sequels aren't meant to out-open their predecessors by a wide margin to begin with.

However, if Pixar were to let Disney Animation have the 11/22/2017 slot that they current have, Ralph 2 would still probably be a 2019 release at the earliest. It depends on what's ready, and what Disney Animation is willing to do. But Mr. Reilly is signed on, so maybe the story is more than ready at this point. If it is, picture this: After Moore completes Zootopia in late 2015/early 2016, he can jump right over to Wreck-It Ralph 2 and possibly get it out as early as spring 2018!

Moore seems to work well within shorter time-spans, which isn't surprising considering his resume. Rich Moore's first Simpsons episode was the season 1 episode 'The Telltale Head', which aired in February 1990. Yes, Moore has been working that way a for a looooong, loooooooong time. I reckon he knows how to solve problems and make decisions quicker than most other directors. Hey, Brad Bird does it as well. In fact, he recently spoke about this at the Tribeca Film Festival, mentioning how his Simpsons and TV days showed him how to not hesitate and just make decisions. Like Walt did in his day.

Bird was directing Simpsons episodes in 1990, before moving on to The Critic and King of the Hill. He got The Incredibles done at a relatively fast clip. He had ideas for the film prior to entering Pixar, but the film was started in 2000 and was done by mid-2004. Compare that to Finding Nemo, which entered active development in 1997 but didn't hit theaters until 2003. Not too long after The Incredibles opened, Brad Bird got aboard the sinking ship that was Ratatouille, turned it around, and got it done in a little over 2 1/2 years. I reckon Mr. Moore operate like this: Make big decisions, don't sit around, get it done.

Wreck-It Ralph evolved out of a project called Joe Jump. Its director Sam Levine was working away at it for roughly four years. It began work in 2004, when Michael Eisner was CEO. Of course, Disney Animation was saved from near-death when Bob Iger, in the months after Eisner's ouster, brought John Lasseter in. Joe Jump was still a go, as Lasseter loved the concept, but two years later he pulled the plug on the project and Levine left the studio. That was in early-to-mid 2008. Lasseter then handed it over to Mr. Moore shortly after the stop. The quarters were in, and Disney Animation pressed "start".

Rich Moore and crew reimagined it (very few of Levine's ideas made it into the finished film), turned it around, and by early 2011, the film was progressing so well that the company moved the release date up. That's right, they pushed it forward because it was coming along so well! Plus, 2012 was vacant, Disney Animation-wise. That move meant that Pixar had to push Monsters University out of fall 2012 and back to summer 2013. Yes, that's how well Ralphy was progressing, that it pushed the Pixar prequel that was obviously going to make big Disney a lot of money, back seven months! Seems like Moore had it all down pat by the end of 2010!

So I believe that Moore can get right into Wreck-It Ralph 2 after Zootopia debuts this coming March, and have it ready by March or November 2018. What do you think? When do you think Disney will announce the film? Do you think, with this announcement, that this film is indeed moving forward? Do you think the story could be in tip-top shape as of now? Sound off below!


  1. Or it is possible John C. Reilly just signed on to do a sequel when he signed on to first, you know just in case. This dis not sound like a sequel announcement at all.