'Ralph Breaks the Internet' was nearly a cautionary tale about social media addiction (exclusive)

The Wreck-It Ralph sequel was nearly a different kind of movie
The Wreck-It Ralph sequel was nearly a different kind of movie

The Wreck-It Ralph sequel is a rather different film from when the story was first conceived.

Ralph Breaks the Internet sees Sarah Silverman and John C. Reilly reprise their roles of video games characters Vanellope and Wreck-It Ralph as they embark on a journey inside the World Wide Web, to find a replacement part for her game, so that she can continue to exist in the virtual world.

However, producer Clark Spencer, says the original concept went down a darker road for Vanellope as she became obsessed with her online status and growing her social media affirmations.

“In the very beginning we did want the story to be the concept of being caught up in the Internet,” Spencer told Yahoo Movies UK earlier this year. “So there was a story told where Vanellope, being the younger character, actually get caught up in the ‘likes’ and she started to feel like that was giving her the affirmation she needed.”

Vanellope Von Schweetz poses and fellow Disney princesses in “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” (Disney)
Vanellope Von Schweetz poses and fellow Disney princesses in “Ralph Breaks the Internet.” (Disney)

The filmmakers soon veered away from that narrative trajectory as they felt it wasn’t authentic for her character and audiences would find it predictable.

“Vanellope knows a lot about herself so for her to just get wooed into this world felt a little bit untrue to who she is as a character,” Spencer said. “But more importantly, because it’s a Disney animated film, you also know we’re going to learn that lesson.

“In a live-action film, you might assume that they were going to go down that road and it would be a dark movie but we’re obviously not going to do that. For us we had to say, even though that’s an incredible story to tell, within the Internet itself, it feels like we can’t have the audience be ahead of us.

“It made us take a step back and say: what’s a different story we can tell that still deals with those elements of the Internet that are complicated?” Spencer continued. “How do we deal with comments? How do we deal with the word ‘likes’ and what does it mean for someone? That idea of affirmation through this kind of anonymous body of the Internet.

“Those things are definitely touched upon in the movie but that’s not the main storyline we’re following and that’s probably the biggest shift we had in the movie storywise.”

Disney certainly deals with big moral themes in its films and with Ralph Breaks the Internet the narrative backbone seems to be concerned with identity and understanding who we are as individuals.

“What we wanted to say is: What would it mean to a character if their game actually was gone?” Spencer explained. “Do they define themselves by their games rather than who they are? It’s sort of like do I define myself by my career or do I define by myself as an individual or as a person? That is a key element of what we explore with Vanellope.

“In some ways, she loses her identity at the beginning of the film because the game is unplugged but she finds out who she really is by going to the Internet and realising there is a much more expansive world that she wants to be a part of.”

Ralph Breaks the Internet is in cinemas from 30 November

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