The lights are on
Wreck-it Ralph is leaving the movie theaters and entering the world of video store shelves, so we spoke to the film's director Rich Moore about making the movie. We find out why Mario didn't make an appearance, whether or not there will be a Wreck-it Ralph 2, and what video game Moore would create if he ever decided to leave the world of film making.
Where was Mario? He was referenced but we never actually saw him there. Is there a reason he didn’t show up?
We established a really good relationship with Nintendo on this movie. In fact, all the game companies were really, really cool to work with. They were great partners for the scenes that their characters were in, and they really helped us elevate those scenes with their characters by giving us great notes and helping us out – the nuances of their characters. So, Nintendo was one of those companies that we kind of partnered up with for this film and when we pitched the idea of Bad-anon to them, and having Bowser in the scene, they were like, “Yes!” Almost immediately they were like, “If there is a group that is dedicated to helping the bad guy characters in video games then Bowser must be in that group!” and we're like, “absolutely, we feel exactly the same way. It’s good to know we’re on the same page here.” And then through a little bit of conversation, it came up and they said to us, because they knew we were interested in Mario, too, “If you can find an scene that is as appropriate to Mario as the Bad-anon scene is to Bowser, then we can definitely talk about Mario being in the film.” "Ok great!"
So we keep working on the story, and that was always in the back of my mind. We’re always kind of looking for a place to put him from that point on and it became really apparent that kind of scene was not coming up, that kind of centered around something that would make it important that Mario was there. It seemed like every time we would try to put him into a movie or into a scene, it felt like we were just kind of forcing him in there. It didn’t seem like, “Oh that’s totally appropriate that Mario be there.” So rather than going back to them and saying, “Well we tried to kind of shoe-horn him in here. What do you guys think?” because I really respected what they were saying, I totally got it. I had to make the tough decision as the director of holding off and taking kind of a leap of faith and hoping that, ok, if the movie does well, and it’s as good as we think, if it's well-received, and we’re lucky enough to do a sequel, then we definitely should really find a nice juicy role for Mario, and we’ll find it then. That’s kind of how it ended. That’s where we are now, as we wait and see, "will there be another film?" I would love to be able to go back to Nintendo and say, “We found that scene, we found that moment for Mario, what do you think?”
Judging by what you just said, there’s been no word on a sequel or a follow-up movie? You don’t know if that’s going to happen, but it sounds like something you would like to happen.
Within the creative staff, the film, and everyone here at the animation studio, everyone that I talk to – from all the artists to all the animators, the voice cast like John [C. Reilly] and Sarah [Silverman] – everyone would love to kind of revisit that world. I think that it’s kind of unanimous that to say that we just barely scratched the surface. We talked about arcade games. Imagine if we went into home systems and other kinds of platforms or online, or mobile games or something like that. We can’t end with just arcade cabinets from the 1980s. There is huge interest on the creative side. And I think the people across the street from us on the main lot, they love the movie, too. I’m hoping that we’ll be able some day soon that we are doing one.
And it did do well, correct? It did well critically and commercially, as well, right?
Yeah, I think, especially when you consider, this is not necessarily the type of movie people would equate to a Disney film. It wasn’t a classic fairy tale, it didn’t have songs in it. But it had all those kind of underpinnings of like a great Disney film. It had tremendous heart to it, and characters that you really cared about, and a really emotional story that was engaging and it all took place in a fantastic world, or several fantastic worlds. It has all those elements, but in a different kind of package. For the audience to kind of embrace it as such, I can see now that a Disney movie isn’t necessarily just musical numbers and fairy tales. To that end we look at it as a really big success.
Sort of on that topic of it not being a typical Disney film, there were a lot really obscure video game references all over the place. Was there a line that you had to walk between obscure video game references and something every movie goer would understand’?
I don’t think there was anything that was too obscure, because to me, some of the more obscure stuff, like the ‘Aerith lives’ graffiti, was my favorite stuff. Where it was like, we have to put that in. That’s a great idea, that goes in. Because then it’s the people that really, really love [gaming] who will get that. That means a lot. I don’t think there is anything wrong with talking to, as long as you have some broad kind of references – everyone knows Pac-Man – but then who knows Paperboy? There is probably a much smaller percentage, a niche of people who know who Paperboy is who are going to get that, or the Aerith lives graffiti. But still, those who see it, get it, it means a lot to that section of the audience. I never looked at it, okay, that’s just too obscure. If at least two people are getting it, than I think that’s worth it. As long as there are other things, that the general audience who are were casual gamers or are casual gamers are just watched a person play a video game, will be able to get as well.
Have you gotten any feedback from members of the video game industry? Has Shigeru Miyamoto seen the film and offered any kind of feedback?
I’ve not heard from any people in the game industry. We worked with a lot of people beforehand, but I will be honest with you, no I haven’t heard from... I’ve heard from a lot of people in animation, but no one in the game world. That’s very interesting. You’re the first one to kind of bring it up. I’m wondering what’s going on now.
What about gaming fans? Fans of video games have a tendency to be highly analytical when it comes to analyzing video games in different mediums.
In a broad sense, I’ll talk to people and they will bring up a little reference – and it will always kind of go to the place of, "I think that’s really cool that you made this movie from my generation, for those of us that love this kind of gaming." It’s weird that I’ve heard that from people in their twenties, from people in their forties, and fifties, and sixties, so I feel like we did something right that a teenager can be saying that, saying, "thanks for making this movie for me." And then a person in their thirties can be saying that, and a guy in there sixties can be saying that, that it feels like the movie is speaking specifically to their age group. That’s been pretty cool, that it feels like all that hard work of making sure that we didn’t leave anyone out. I like comedy that’s very inclusive, and I like movies that feel inclusive, that aren’t talking down to children or insulting the intelligence of adults. To hear game fans from different generations saying that they feel a special connection to the movie, kind of across the board? That’s pretty great.
Any plans to dip your toe in the video game world outside of movies? Spielberg has kind of played around with making games, and Guillermo del Toro sort of has a game in the works.
Did you see the cabinet version of the Fix-It Felix Jr. game? I thought that was really great. To make something that felt so kind of close to the real thing, as if it had been made back in the 80s. I thought that was really, really great.
I’ve talked to so many people in the studio and outside of the studio that say like, “Are you guys going to make a a Sugar Rush game?” That’s the one that everybody always goes to. And we’re like, why aren’t we making a Sugar Rush game? Like a full, no-holds-barred, amazing version of Sugar Rush. And I think that would be really cool. If there were one that would love to kind of dive into, it would definitely be doing a balls-out – can we say balls out? – race game based around Sugar Rush that goes far farther than any of the race games so far. That would be mine dream game project if I could do one. I would never leave my house.
Wreck-it Ralph is coming to DVD and Blu-ray on March 5, and will be available digitally on February 12.
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