A new Disney princess is set to make her royal debut this fall in “Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess.”
Set in the storybook world of Enchancia, the movie introduces young Sofia, an average girl whose life suddenly changes when her mother marries a king and she becomes a princess, Sofia the First. Sofia must learn to navigate the extraordinary life of royalty while holding on to her own hopes and dreams. Her journey to being the best she can be also paves the way for those around her to realize how special they each are.
Sophia will make her debut in a music-filled movie entitled “Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess.” The movie will debut on the Disney Channel, Sunday, November 18 while a series based on the movie will premiere in early 2013.
Sofia’s royal adventure begins as she prepares to move into the castle with her mom, starting a new family with her step-father, King Roland II, and step-siblings, Amber and James. Helping Sofia in her journey is a cast of characters led by a wise-talking rabbit named Clover. Sofia soon discovers that looking like a princess isn’t all that difficult, but displaying honesty, loyalty, courage, independence, compassion and grace is what makes one truly royal.
“Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess” stars the voices of Ariel Winter (“Modern Family”) as Sofia; Sara Ramirez (“Grey’s Anatomy”) as Queen Miranda; and Wayne Brady (“Let’s Make A Deal”) as Clover.
Craig Gerber is co-executive producer of the movie “Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess” and the animated series “Sofia the First.” Gerber developed both the movie and the series and serves as story editor on the series. He is the sole screenwriter of the feature.
Jamie Mitchell is executive producer and director of both the movie and the animated series. He is responsible for the creative development and the look of all of the elements for the feature and series.
In the production offices of the movie and the series, sketches in various stages, from simple pencil drawings to full color illustrations, line the walls. Incredibly detailed visions of characters, country sides and castles demonstrate the amount of attention that has been poured into every aspect of the creation of this endeavor.
“The kingdom of Enchancia is coming to life and it’s all happening right here,” explains Gerber.
While marrying traditional Disney features with a new product did not hold a specific challenge for Mitchell and Gerber, it was more of an exciting dare to do the franchise justice with this project. “Taking the script and bringing it to fruition in terms of traditional Disney lore is something that we understand because we’re sort of Disney nerds,” admits Mitchell. “When I first read the script I said, ‘I know exactly what it needs to look like and how to do it.’ There was no hesitation and the result is exactly what we wanted. We were extrapolating from films like ‘Cinderella’ from 1950, ‘Lady and Tramp’ from 1955, ‘Sleeping Beauty from 1959 and ‘The Jungle Book’ from 1964; all of that was 2D and now we have new technology so translating from 2D to the new world is an interesting process. For this film and series, we’ve created what I describe as, not ‘3D’ really, but more of a ‘2 and half D’ look.”
The look and feel of the project is definitely Disney, as is the storytelling.
“One of the fun things is that we present a classic storybook world, a fantasy world with princesses, sorcerers, knights and flying horses,” explains Gerber, “but what happens to the characters in the story are things that any kid can relate to now. That’s really what we want people to come away with; the idea that kids watch this show and relate to Sophia, Amber, and James. The fantasy is fun, but at the end of the episode, kids can take away something that they can bring to their own lives. Those ideals are such a natural part of what Disney has done for years. We’re just attempting to do a version of that; the best version that we can do on television.”
Mitchell adds, “The goal is to discover what’s going to inspire the imagination of the viewer. I think if you have a combination of a reality based socialization of a character there’s a practical entry point for the audience that then spurs you to go off in this imaginative world, then you have the best of both worlds. Some shows do one or the other, this show does both.”
“Sofia the First: Once Upon A Princess” the movie will debut on the Disney Channel, Sunday, November 18 (7:00-8:00 p.m., ET/PT) with a re-airing on Disney Junior on Thursday, November 22nd (9:00-10:00 a.m., ET/PT). “Sofia the First” will premiere as a television series in early 2013 on Disney Junior with 26 episodes.