When last we left Wreck-It Ralph he was realizing that while he might be the bad guy in the video game world that didn’t necessarily mean he was a *bad* guy. Now the scope of the action has broadened in Ralph Breaks the Internet.
Taking place years after the first movie, Ralph (John C. Reilly) and Vanellope (Sarah Silverman) have maintained their friendship. When an internet router is installed in the arcade where their machine is located the two decide to venture out into the web to try and find a piece of software needed to fix Vanellope’s game, leading to all kinds of new adventures.
A motion poster kicked off this part of the campaign as we see a search bar asking “who broke the internet?” with a mouse pointer clearly accusing a sheepish-looking Ralph of being behind it. The second one-sheet shows the same internet city shown in the first full trailer, the logos of Facebook and other companies seen affixed to some of the buildings as Ralph and Vanellope ride a mouse pointer across the sky.
All the characters are arranged around a wireless signal on what seems to be the theatrical poster
The movie’s Real3D release was promoted on a poster that had Ralph and Vanellope putting themselves in an Instagram-like photo frame.
We’re back in the arcade from the first movie as the trailer opens, with the owner installing wireless internet in the store. That quickly attracts the attention of both Ralph and Vanellope, who decide to go exploring. There’s not much story here, it’s just about how the two of them encounter memes, kid-centric games, cute cat photos and other internet cliches.
As soon as the first full trailer opens we get the basic idea, that Ralph and Vanellope are going to the internet to explore what’s there. When they arrive we see all sorts of well-known company logos like Google, Amazon, Facebook and others. Vanellope is whisked off to the Disney website that’s filled with fairy tale creatures, Stormtroopers and other characters, leading to an extended sequence where she interacts with the assembled Disney Princess lineup. It ends with Ralph having a discussion about the phrasing of the title in some manner.
It’s funny enough, but I’m kind of afraid it’s just going to be an endless string of in-jokes. I get the humor being sold here but it also betrays a “oh we’re so clever” mindset that doesn’t always age well. Plus, there’s still no actual story being shown. Why are they going to the internet? What’s the purpose of their journey once they’re there? None of that is explained.
A short “first look” trailer was released in mid-August that didn’t offer a whole lot more plot details but did show Vanellope gets involved in a racing game while the pair are stuck in the internet. That trailer served as an introduction to the racer voiced by Gal Gadot and showed off a bit more of the Disney Princesses, who by that point had become a central focus of the campaign as a whole.
The second official trailer from late September shows Ralph and Vanellope are in this situation because the racing game was unplugged, taking to the internet to find a fix. The focus here is on the racer played by Gal Gadot and how she helps the two friends come to an uncomfortable but unavoidable truth.
Online and Social
Not much on Disney’s official website for the movie other than a handful of videos and images, along with a list of the promotional partner companies.
The Void developed a hyper-reality VR experience based on the movie, the first project as part of a deal with Disney.
Advertising and Cross-Promotions
In addition to all that, the movie was one of the first to be part of a renewed agreement between Disney and McDonald’s to include promotional toys in Happy Meals. Dark Horse also announced a choose-your-own-adventure graphic novel tied to the movie.
- National Cinemedia, which created a movie-themed augmented reality game for those arriving early to theaters beginning in early October. Part of NCM’s pre-show entertainment package, the game could be played via the company’s Noovie Arcade app.
- Carvana, which launched a cobranded campaign to sell audiences on its online car buying. The company’s website featured information on the vehicles from the movie and added Ralph to its “Car Vending Machine” locations in Phoenix and Orlando.
- Atom Tickets, which teamed with Disney Movie Rewards to let users link accounts on both services, with extra points being available for those who bought tickets to this movie through Atom.
- eBay, which set up a special movie-branded shop of merchandise.
- Netgear, which created a co-branded campaign using the movie to advertise its line of secure wireless routers.
- Purple, which ran co-branded ads positioning their mattress as one that broke the internet just like Ralph.
- MailChimp, which sponsored a special preview for those visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Sponsored posts on Twitter used videos and links. Outdoor ads used elements from the key art.
Media and Publicity
While it had been talked about before this a bit, the first real press for the movie came at 2017’s version of the D23 fan event. It was there that the title was officially unveiled as well as the fact that it would bring together many of the Disney Princesses from the 90s to the present as well as characters from Marvel and Star Wars. Things were quiet for a while until the first concept art and synopsis were released.
At the same time the first trailer hit the film’s directors talked about the challenge of expanding the story and how they wanted to introduce some more interesting and mature themes while remaining accessible to young audiences.
The movie was among those Disney teased to distribution execs and press at CinemaCon, showing off a bit of footage to get industry insiders excited. After that a photo was released showing Vanellope meeting all the assembled Disney Princesses, something the internet just ate up. The movie was also part of the later CineEurope presentation from the studio. It also showed up at the Annecy Animation Film Festival, offering attendees an exclusive look.
Another new look at the Princesses showed them in their casual wear, which generated a lot of conversation. A later profile of Reilly talked about his career so far while pointing out this was the first sequel he’s done to date.
A bit of controversy erupted around initial footage from the film that showed Tiana, the princess from The Princess and The Frog, had had her nose thinned out and skin lightened, making her appear less ethnically appropriate. That lead Disney to reanimate the character to correct those mistakes.
The focus on the princess characters is likely what lead Disney to announce it was rereleasing five movies featuring those women to AMC Theaters a few months prior to this movie coming out.
A “Special Look” video was released in late October that acted as kind of a trailer, with the focus on new music from rock band Imagine Dragons.
The first clip from the movie expanded a scene from the trailer with Ralph trying to search the internet with little success. Another has Ralph receiving some well-deserved hearts for creating a popular video.
The first clip from just a few days ago featured Ralph and Vanellope realizing they’re in the internet.
There’s some good stuff here but overall it just never really comes together for me. It’s all flash and no substance, nothing offered for the audience to really latch on to. It might not matter, of course, as it’s a family-friendly film opening on a holiday weekend and a sequel to a popular movie. But I just don’t get some of the choices made for the campaign, which got derailed on a couple different occasions by focusing on the Disney Princess subplot, indicating this was more about brand management than anything else.