Wreck-It Ralph is a big win for Disney. The characters are adorable, it’s contemporary while holding on to classic themes, and it embraces the original Disney mantra of focusing on strong original characters. Every one of them is flawed, and deeply lovable.
But most notably, this is the first Disney film in nearly a decade that returned to the Renaissance-era tactic of playing the long game. Promotion for the film started early, the characters were developed publicly and the merchandising appropriately on-key.
A version of Ralph’s game — Fix-It Felix Jr. — in the movie was released for smartphones in advance of the theatrical release to familiarize fans with the world of the film. It ramped up to the top of the iTunes best seller list inside of a week.
Previews of the characters rolled out alongside the main theatrical trailers on YouTube and the popular Apple Trailers website. The 8-bit-style poster of Ralph’s face began popping up in cities around the world, and television spots teased familiar video game characters like the Pac-Man ghost and Bowser to boost interest among older viewers.