Walt Disney Animation Studios’ all-new musical comedy “Wish” will be released on November 22, 2023. “Wish” invites audiences to the kingdom of Rosas, where Asha, a sharp-witted idealist, makes a wish so powerful that it is answered by a cosmic force, a little ball of boundless energy called Star. Together, Asha and Star confront the ruler of Rosas, King Magniﬁco to save her community and prove that when the will of one courageous human connects with the magic of the stars, wondrous things can happen.
During a recent press conference at the Walt Disney Animation Studios in Burbank, we heard from the filmmakers about the creative process and the inspiration behind the film. In attendance were Jennifer Lee (Writer/Executive Producer), Chris Buck (Director), Fawn Veerasunthorn (Director), Peter Del Vecho (Producer), Julia Michaels (Songwriter), and Juan Pablos Reyes Lancaster Jones (Producer).
Both directors were asked about the creative collaboration how the challenges were at the same time, and what the benefits were.
Fawn commented by saying, “Yeah, the wish was the same to work at Disney Animation. So it was so interesting to get to hear Chris talking. He mentioned earlier that when you have a wish, you speak it out loud. And he did when he was younger. And I was like, oh, man, I should have done that. I spent my day doubting myself. So we have different journeys but we put all of those aspects into this story, and it was great.”
Chris Buck continued, “I was lucky enough to train under the 9 old men. I definitely felt like they were handing the baton to the new generation.”
The ﬁlm’s innovative visual watercolor storybook style, brought to life through CG, evokes watercolor paintings that inspired the studios’ earliest ﬁlms like 1937’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” 1940’s “Pinocchio” and 1959’s “Sleeping Beauty.” Says Veerasunthorn, “It was our intention to go back to what inspired Walt himself the artists, the illustrators, the watercolor-storybook style, and the way they frame those illustrations. I ﬁnd it really beautiful. I wasn’t sure at ﬁrst how we were going to achieve it, but we all held hands it was a big collaboration. We knew if we started at the beginning the art that inspired those who were here 70, 80, 90 years ago, it would carry us all through.”
At the heart of “Wish”—like so many of the Disney features that came before it is the music. “So many of our beloved ﬁlms are musicals,” Del Vecho says. “When you think of Disney, you think of a range of emotions. You want to feel like you’ve been on a roller coaster and part of that emotion comes from music. These ultimately classic songs evoke deeper levels of emotion than we could convey with dialogue alone.”
When considering the songs and the songwriter for “Wish,” the ﬁlmmakers wanted to ﬁnd someone who could deliver both a timeless and contemporary sound. Says Lee, “Julia Michaels is an extraordinary talent, and Julia, along with her writing partner Benjamin Rice, have created original songs that inspired all of us working on the ﬁlm. Her collaborative process was so special, really siƫng down with us and talking about the motivations of our characters.”
When asked about how she started with Disney, Julia commented about how it all happened.
“Fun fact I used to do was go round the city to pay my rent and I got called in one day to do the backgrounds for the Demi Lovato version of Let It Go and I had no idea 10 years later that I would be writing the songs with the directors of the film from Frozen. But yes, wreck it, Ralph, Ralph breaks the Internet. Really was kind of my end to Disney. I had met Tom MacDougall back when he was doing music supervision for Disney and I had a meeting with him and I was like, I’m a Disney nerd. I’m a Disney fan. Please let me do something, anything for this company. And he called me one day for Ralph breaks the Internet. And he was like, we need like, a reimagination of this song called Slaughter Race. OK, challenge accepted. And it was just so much fun and so cool. And so when I got the call he was like, we need to try something new, it’s the 100th anniversary of Disney Animation.
According to Tom MacDougall, executive music producer/president of Walt Disney Music, Michaels, and Rice represent a bold direction for songwriters at Disney Animation because previous musicals most often enlisted pros from the theater world. “[Julia and Ben] come from a pop-writing background—Julia is the youngest person ever to write all of the songs for a Disney Animation feature,” says MacDougall.
During the Press event, we also had the opportunity to see brand-new merchandise that is now available at shopDisney and other Retailers. Here is a look at the collection.
“Wish” will be released in theaters on November 22, 2023.
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