When Disney’s next animated feature arrives in theaters in November, it promises to not only tell a magical new story but also reference classic Disney stories. In a recent interview with EW, Directors Chris Buck (Frozen) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (head of story on Raya and the Last Dragon) shared that in Wish there will be dozens of “legacy nods” to previous Disney films.
While it is easy to call these nods Easter Eggs, the directors shared that these nods are a bit more nuanced. “They’re all over the movie,” Buck says. “We are compiling a list, and I couldn’t tell you how long it is now. Each department puts things in and there’s some that we don’t even know are there yet, and we may not know until they tell us.”
Some of these nods will be more obvious than others. One that most Disney fans will most likely notice is the poison apple that is found in the villain’s lair of King Magnifico. EW showed a picture of this reference in its article. On the other side of the nods is a more nuanced reference that comes in the form of the aspect ratio. For the first time since 1959, Disney is using the same aspect ratio as that found in Sleeping Beauty.
“It’s a wider screen. So, it just has that epic feel to it — and the story does too,” Buck says. Sleeping Beauty became a big influence on Wish more generally. “The way things are framed, it’s purposeful,” Veerasunthorn adds, “and we embarked on that journey with the same thinking.”
It turns out that King Magnifico also is a nod to the classic Disney stories. He has the ability to grant wishes as king of Rosas, Magnifico. He also “can do other things too,” Buck shared. The two directors shared that this character is a classic Disney villain, much like Maleficent or the Evil Queen. “We were always attracted to the idea that the villain and hero, for a moment, might align philosophically,” Veerasunthorn explains of Magnifico. “In the understanding of what wishes mean to people, the most important part of you is what drives your heart. Asha and Magnifico understand the importance of that, but what drives them apart is how you go about achieving your wish.”
The background scenery found in Wish also are another nod to classic Disney storytelling. In particular, it is a nod to the watercolor art that influenced the style of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937. “The goal is that this is a moving illustration. Every frame is a painting,” Veerasunthorn says. “When you pause on it, we don’t put a lot of motion blurs in this film or in the background. We employ the watercolor technique of when things are in the distance, you reduce the detail. This is a new technology that our team has developed to be able to control the lines and the details that go into whichever area on the screen. So, when you want to narrow down the focus to someone or some situation, we have all those tools at our hands to really emanate the real-life watercolor.”
The creation of Wish really was a collaborative effort. Ideas were solicited from many people at Disney. They were asked what they would like to see on the screen when the movie arrives in theaters on November 22, 2023. This is also where many of the nods came from.
“We wanted to make a movie that celebrates the joy of Disney and make a movie for the fans,” Buck says, noting the studio’s milestone birthday. “It’s a hundred years. The Disney audience has kept us going and kept this studio going, and so there’s so much of that.”
Veerasunthorn concluded, “It’s a love letter to what was inspiring to us growing up.”
In “Wish,” 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 a most formidable foe—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. Featuring the voices of Academy Award®-winning actor Ariana DeBose as Asha, Chris Pine as Magnifico, and Alan Tudyk as Asha’s favorite goat, Valentino, the film is helmed by Oscar®-winning director Chris Buck (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2”) and Fawn Veerasunthorn (“Raya and the Last Dragon”), produced by Peter Del Vecho (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2”) and co-produced by Juan Pablo Reyes (“Encanto”). Jennifer Lee (“Frozen,” “Frozen 2”) executive produces—Lee and Allison Moore (“Night Sky,” “Manhunt”) are writers on the project. With original songs by Grammy®-nominated singer/songwriter Julia Michaels and Grammy-winning producer/songwriter/musician Benjamin Rice, plus score by composer Dave Metzger, “Wish” opens only in theaters on Nov. 22, 2023.
Are you excited to see all of the different nods that will be found in Wish that looks back at the last 100 years of storytelling by The Walt Disney Company? Are there any you really hope will be included? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments below!