And this movie really seems like a massive undertaking too. I heard that there are 188 original characters in this movie – which is the most in Disney animation – and you have “Fix It Felix Jr.,” “Hero’s Duty” and “Sugar Rush,” which are all worlds with completely different looks and feels.

The natural flow of these things is that they want to land in a homogenous kind of look where everything feels of the same mind and spirit – and this is one that I kind of had to bulldog and be like, no! “Remember, Calhoun’s from “Hero’s Duty” world, and that’s very realistic, so you have to push the realism – she’s a little too cartoony here, you have to push the realism on her.” And that was not just on animation, but on design, the camerawork, the layout, the lighting of every world. It was a challenge to shepherd people in a way they’re not used to. “I hear what you’re saying, but we usually do…” “No! It’s gonna be fine! It’s my job, it’s gonna be fine! It’s really gonna work out in the end!” [laughs] And little by little people were kinda going, ”Oh! Now I get it! That’s why the Nicelanders [the residents of “Fix it Felix Jr.] are like 8-bit, but in 3D!” But then once people kind of get it it’s like they can’t stop doing it [laughs]. “I’m having fun with this!”

Nostalgia is another interesting thing about this film because our society has actually become rather obsessed with looking into the past and remembering the good ol’ days and this movie seems to really tap into that in an interesting way. But there’s also the fact that video game arcades aren’t really as big as they used to be and you’re still appealing to a young audience.

That was a concern while we were developing it. I would think, “Is this just nostalgia? Is this just some kind of pining for some time that a lot of people won’t know about?” But I have kids – my daughter is 21, my son’s 18 right now – and I started this when my son was 15. I was like, “What do you think of arcades?” And he was like, “I love them!” Because we’ve been to tons of birthday parties at places like Dave and Busters and bowling alleys that had video games – we go to this one car wash that has video games sitting off to the side that we play. So you’d be surprised. This was a 15 year old kid was like, “Oh yeah, I know Pac Man! I know Dig dug! Yeah, I grew up with those.” So to him it feels like he’s grown up with those, that they’re a fabric of his childhood: a 15 year old being nostalgic. So I thought that was kind of interesting and I asked other people too. In the early days there was like, “Do we want to make this in an arcade? Is it all taking place on a hard drive?” It just didn’t seem very interesting. I get here’s Pac Man and here’s Centipede and Fix It Felix and Q*bert, and they’re their own worlds and they’re linked by plugging into a power strip. I get it. Whereas how would you show that… I’m sure you could, I’m just not that man [laughs]. No vision for that aspect of it. But then I think it gets into looking something like Tron or something, which is not where I wanted to take it. It’s its own thing.

So early on I was like, “I think it’s cool that people like it” – because I’ve had teens like my son’s friends who say, “I’m so into this movie! This is so for us!” And then I’ve had people in their 50s be like, “Man, finally Disney is making a movie for me!” Something’s happening – and I have people in the middle also saying, “This is for us!” So it’s multigenerational, I think. Games have been around long enough that if you’re 60 or 70 you probably still have some kind of connection to them – maybe not played them, but you know what they are. And if you’re in your teens or younger, you know what the old ones were to the point where you feel a connection to it. I think we’re really lucky. And my daughter, who is 21 now, her new hangout, like where her and her friends go after concerts and stuff, is Family Arcade on Vermont. There’s still an arcade there and they go all the time! They’re like, “We’re always playing the old games! We love em! My friends are so into this movie!” Thank you universe for putting us at the right place at the right time! [laughs] It’s a privilege to be the guy helming it.

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