Comic-Con 2012: Rich Moore on Wreck-It Ralph

The director talks ripping out a heart in a PG-rated Disney film, getting the big video game cameos and the ideas they're saving for the sequel.

Fred Topelby Fred Topel


Disney first debuted the teaser trailer to Wreck-It Ralph at D23 to rave reviews. Wreck-It Ralph is a fictional 8-bit video game character, but he is the villain. He crosses over into first person shooters and racing games in an effort to become a good guy, running into cameos from actual famous video game characters along the way.

Today at Comic-Con they presented a panel with director Rich Moore and voice talent John C. Reilly and Sarah Silverman in Hall H. After Hall H, we got to attend a press conference with Moore and the actors. Reilly and Silverman mainly joked about video games (Reilly pondered how good Pac-Man’s cherry tasted and Silverman mimicked tapping the Joust buttons.) Moore was the focus as he could answer the nitty-gritty about video game and animation matters.


Wreck-It Ralph is a violent video game.

Rich Moore: I think it would be impossible to make a movie about video games if there wasn’t some of the violence that we know from video games. It’s a PG-rated movie so we draw the line on body parts and gore, although we do have a heart getting ripped out so we draw the line there. It’s a zombie heart so it’s a clean kill. It would be impossible not to do a shooter game without shooting. So you will see some of that type of violence that we know from those games in there, but I don’t think you take it to a point where it’s gratuitous or gory. I think we’ve done a good job representing it where I don’t think a fan of those types of genres would feel they’ve been shortchanged because we didn’t take it to a certain level. I think it’s well represented but keeps us right in that area of family comedy.


We ask if he saw the 8-bit episode of “Community” and if they beat Wreck-It Ralph to anything by being quick and first.

I didn’t see that episode. I’ve been working on this movie for the past 2 years. I haven’t really gotten out of the studio that much to watch TV. That’s a bad joke.


We follow up to ask why now seems like the right time for video game nostalgia.

I think that the nostalgia for them would be akin to I’m sure how people felt nostalgic for in the ‘50s or ‘60s rubber hose animation from the ‘20s and ‘30s. It was the first step towards the games that we know today. Video games were a baby. That’s what they kind of look like and now they matured to they look so realistic.  You can see there’s history now within video games. You can look back and see what they used to look like and you can see the fun that can be had of playing those two ends against each other to get that mashup quality between the genres and looks. Now is a pretty good time to be making this movie. You couldn’t have made it 10 years ago and it wouldn’t have struck the same chords it does now. Whether you’re a little kid to people in their 50s, 60s 70s, they’ve come up with this stuff. They recognize it so it feels like there’s something for everyone in video games. It’s not just a toy of a certain age group. It’s stepped in the culture now I think.


Why Wreck-It Ralph went after real video game co-stars, and how they got the rights.

When we developed the movie, right away we knew we if we’re going to make a movie about video games, we can’t just make up a bunch of fake ersatz [titles like] Rack Man or Nig Mug. We wanted to have the real thing for the movie. We wanted real characters from real games so it felt authentic. So we just began by taking the characters that we liked and putting them in situations that we thought were funny or dramatic. Then from there, we said, “Well, now we begin the process of going to these places and talking to these people and seeing if we could use them. It was a process of creating relationships with the other studios and being forthright on how we wanted to use the characters. Surprisingly it was easier than you’d think. I’m sure our lawyers would say, “Oh, you didn’t have to do all the paperwork.” It was not as bad as I thought it would be because people were excited to be part of this.


Nintendo’s specific rules about Bowser’s coffee habit.

It made the scenes with those characters better to send Nintendo the shots of Bowser, because they’d come back and say, “No, Bowser wouldn’t hold his coffee cup like that. He’d do this.” I thought, “Is that such a big deal?” But after jumping through those hoops you would look at hte scene and go you know what, that does feel more like Bowser than what we were doing before.


There are plenty more ideas for Wreck-It Ralph 2.

That was never the intent as we were working on the movie but during the three years that we have been developing and making it, there were a lot of ideas like different games that the characters were going to go to, the different people they were going to meet, different characters and situations that we’d have to say okay, we can’t go there. We can’t throw another world into the story this late. It hurts. There was a whole Sims world called Extreme Easy Livin’ 2. It hurt to say there’s too much, there are too many worlds here. We pulled that one out and we worked with John Lasseter. He told me, “It’s okay. Toy Story, we had to cut out a lot of things and put it over to the side, but they come back. All those good ideas can come back. There are things in Toy Story 2 and 3 that were story lines from the original. Don’t feel like this is forever because if this does well, if it’s well received like we think it’s going to be, those things can come back.” Hopefully we’ll get to see Extreme Easy Livin’ 2.


Kids, don’t worry, you can take your parents to Wreck-It Ralph and they won’t be confused.

When we started developing the movie, we knew we wanted to set this against a big backdrop of the world of video games. It’s a big rich environment and world to set a story. Once we knew that’s where it’s going to take place, we put that aside for nine months to a year as we were developing the story and just made sure the story was one that was emotional and people could relate to the characters and what they were going through and what they were trying to achieve without any connection to video games, so we really laid out a traditional emotional story before we even went back in and started to layer on the icing or the accoutrements or the skin, whatever you want to call it, of video games. So it was a conscious effort to make sure that emotional story between Ralph and Vanellope was well laid out. If you play video games, great. If you’ve seen someone play a video game, great. If you never even saw one before you’d still be able to get what’s going on. What’s great about it is it feels like it has that kind of point of view that’s inside video games where the gamers will enjoy it. But then the people who don’t know that will too. The trailer seems it’s all about cameos. It’s a lot more than that. I think everyone will be able to watch and get what it’s about.