The animated musical “Wish” from Walt Disney Animation Studios releases on November 22nd, and we were invited to a press day to learn more about this highly anticipated film. There was a question and answer session that featured Jennifer Lee (Animation Chief Creative Officer, Writer/Executive Producer ‘Wish”); director Chris Buck, director Fawn Veerasunthorn, producer Peter Del Vecho and producer Juan Pablo Reyes Lancaster-Jones.
The filmmakers fielded a question about Ariana DeBose, who plays the 17-year old Asha in the film, about how much of her physicality was embodied in the character. Buck answered, “A lot. She’s very, very active within the booth. Sometimes maybe a little too much, because the sound engineer is like, “Ariana, can you move back on the mic a little bit?” He continued, “But you know, she’s acting it all out. And yes, we record all of it. The animators, all the way down to the mouth shapes, eye shapes, anything that she’s done. She’s so expressive and she’s so much fun to work with.”
Reyes Lancaster-Jones added that DeBose also came to the studio and spoke with the animators. The animators used her facial expressions as inspiration.
There is a song in the teaser trailer calledhat’s what fascinating about it. We gave her some of the brief storyline, and then she wrote that incredible song.”
Lee continued, “And I remember, we really wanted to talk about that time in life, because Asha is 17, turning 18, where you have big aspirations and then the world shows you its flaws. And you go, ‘This isn’t acceptable’.
Buck talked about Michaels and her songwriting. “She’s still in her 20s. And so, she can still tap into that, of Asha. She understood Asha so well from the very beginning. And so that was great having her as a songwriter. She not only had love for the classics – all the Disney songs – but again, being younger, also embraces the more contemporary side too.”
The filmmakers were asked about the inspiration of the setting for “Wish”. Veerasunthorn answered, “…and for our story, we wanted to create Rosas as a destination, a place people go to. So, in the Mediterranean Sea – that’s kind of where all the cultures converged, historically. We worked with our culture consultant to make sure that this could happen”. (laughing).
With it being the 100th Anniversary of the Walt Disney Company (and Walt Disney Animation Studios), it was fitting to hear the filmmakers loop it all back to Walt Disney. Reyes Lancaster-Jones said, “I think one of the things that I really like that is also a direct inspiration from Walt is that in this Wish sequence, we have the Wishing Tree that is inspired by his Dreaming Tree in Marceline, Missouri. So, just maybe sitting down with him next to a tree, talking about what he wanted his creativity to turn into would be really cool.”
Veerasunthorn said, “It goes back to what was said in one of our greatest films, Cinderella. A dream is a wish your heart makes. And for all of us at Disney Animation, creating this film has truly been from all of our heart. So, thank you so much for being her today and thank you for being part of this dream”.
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 ofAcademy 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.