While the first trailer for Ralph Breaks The Internet was released all the way back in February, and another came out this summer, they didn't exactly provide a lot of story context. We learned that Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) were going to be visiting the internet and getting into a variety of shenanigans, but the preview didn't explain what the film was actually going to be about. As a result, the mystery has persisted for months, but now the story at the heart of the Wreck-It Ralph sequel.
A few weeks back I attended a special press day at Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, California for an inside look at the making of Ralph Breaks The Internet, and it was through a variety of presentations and interviews that I learned the central plot of the new movie. It picks up where the last one left off, with Ralph and Vanellope living comfortably and harmoniously in their respective games -- Fix It Felix and Sugar Rush -- but everything changes when the arcade owner, Mr. Litwak (Ed O'Neill), plugs in a Wi-Fi router. At first the device is deemed totally off limits for all game characters, but we all know that won't really stop our heroes... especially in a time of crisis.
That time of crisis is specifically comes thanks to an incident with the Sugar Rush cabinet, as an over-excited player accidentally breaks one of the steering wheels. Because the manufacturer no longer exists, the only replacement available online costs more than the game makes in a year, Mr. Litwak is forced to make the terrible decision to unplug it. As a result, Vanellope is left homeless, but Ralph is determined to help her, and believes that the answer to their problems rests on the internet -- specifically on the website eBay.
After sneaking into the router and being transported to the World Wide Web -- awed by it's incredible and expansive majesty -- a Search Bar takes them to eBay where they find the auction for the Sugar Rush steering wheel (which is amidst items such as a portrait of a sad kitten and a potato chip shaped like Beyoncé). Unfortunately, they don't actually understand how an auction works, and think that it's just a race to say a higher number than the other bidders. As a result, they wind up winning, but owing a handsome sum of $27,001. Ralph and Vanellope learn about this serious mistake, and are told that they have 24 hours to complete the purchase or forfeit the item.
Needing to earn a crazy amount of money quickly, the heroes come into contact with Yesss (Taraji P. Henson) -- the algorithm that exists behind the trendiest website online, BuzzTube. She tells them that the best way to make money on the internet is through the creation of a viral video, and while that puts the characters on a positive path, it's also one full of landmines for Ralph, given how he validates himself through other people.
Ralph Breaks The Internet is described by directors Rich Moore and Phil Johnston as a road film that will take Ralph and Vanellope into all aspects of the online experience -- so what's above is really only the set up for the larger story and larger world that the movie is building. It's incredibly exciting -- particularly for those of us who love Wreck-It Ralph -- and we'll have a lot more for you about the new Disney animated film in the weeks and months ahead.