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With their ambitious new animated feature Wreck-It Ralph, Disney delves into the world of video games to tell the story of an 8-bit baddie who is tired of being a villain. The promos so far have shown some dazzling animation as well as a sharp sense of humor, but one of the film's most surprising production elements is the inclusion of so many actual video game characters. Much like the inclusion of Looney Tunes and Disney's classic characters made the world of Toon Town in Who Framed Roger Rabbit all the more tangible, adding Pac-Man's Pokey, Street Figher's M. Bison, and Super Mario Bros.'s Bowser to Ralph's support group for video games villains deeply enriches the world of Wreck-It Ralph, where video games characters exist together outside of their remote-controlled day jobs.
But how did the filmmakers manage to get the rights to include so many of these characters? Total Film spoke with producer Clark Spencer, and found the answer was answer was simple: keeping the companies in the loop on the film's development:
"Rich [Moore, director] and I went to E3, and pitched the movie to all the different game companies…We said we'd keep them involved in the process, and give them the script pages. We showed them the models, we showed them the early animation tests, and even the final animations. We brought them along the entire way, and it made companies willing to participate, because they felt like we were going to be true to their characters. As a result we got pretty much almost anything we wanted, because the companies started feeling the momentum and everybody pretty much said yes to us."
Spencer said the collaboration with the companies was incredibly involved, with the latter giving details notes on how their characters move and the specifications of their size down to centimeters. While this might sound like a potentially frustrating process, Spencer insists it only benefitted the movie as the filmmakers want Wreck-It Ralph to be as "authentic" as possible. Still, they didn't want to force cameos, and so the film has some noticeable omissions, like Mario.
"The hard thing was, we were trying to work out the right way to use a character like Mario. It had to be organic to the film, we didn't want to just paste him in there. For Bowser, it made perfect sense for him to be a member of the Bad Anon group. For Mario himself we couldn't think of the right way to incorporate him into the film, and so we didn't do it."
While Mario didn't make it into the cameo mix, one of the contributors to the soundtrack did. Spotted in some advance screened footage, Spencer confirmed that dubstep DJ Skrillex and his signature asymmetrical 'do make it into one of a party scene. And even much like the video game companies, he was eager to participate, but had some notes on his character's depiction. Spencer recalls, "He said 'My tennis shoes will always be black.' So we changed the tennis shoes to black." Authentic to the last detail.
Wreck-It Ralph opens November 2. Find more information on the film in our Blend Film Database.