Disney’s new animated film, Wish, is hitting theaters just in time for the holidays.
At Walt Disney World’s Very Merry Holidays, a special preview of the film was shown ahead of release. The film follows Asha (Ariana DeBose), a 17-year-old who lives in the magical kingdom of Rosas — a fantastical kingdom ruled by Disney’s newest villain, Chris Pine’s King Magnifico – makes a wish so powerful that it’s answered by a cosmic force, a little ball of boundless energy called Star. With Star’s help, Asha must save her kingdom from King Magnifico’s ill intentions while there’s a manhunt to stop her. Asha and Star’s journey combines human connections with the magic of nature, proving that wondrous things can happen.
The film’s composer, Dave Metzger, spoke about his work on the film. In his 50+ year career, he’s worked on 11 Disney animated films thus far. But Wish was something special for him.
“The first thing that happened when I found out I had the job is that that I just shouted at the top of my lungs in the phone,” he recalled. “It just came out of the blue…it is something I didn’t really expect would ever happen. I’ve been mostly known as an arranger and orchestrator for my career. And to get the call to be the composer on the score of a film as major as Wish was something I just didn’t believe was ever going to happen. And to have it finally happen at this point in my life was very, very thrilled and very happy about that.”
Metzger’s work with Disney as an arranger and orchestrator includes the films Tarzan and Jane, Tarzan II, Frozen 2 and more. Working on Wish provided him the unique opportunity to partner with the film’s songwriters Julia Michaels and JP Saxe. In his role, he was part of the songwriting process from start to finish, with the exception of the film’s title song.
“I was actually brought in to be the arranger and orchestrator of the songs….so I was there for the birthing of all of the songs along the way,” he gushed. “I knew a big part of my job was to make that a cohesive flow between the songs and the score. It’s kind of never, never desirable to have the score complete and then all of a sudden here’s a song, and then there’s the score again afterwards. So one of my major jobs was really to make that flow transfer of the transitions seamless, as simple as possible.”
The songwriting and score process of the project was six weeks. It may seem like a tight deadline, but Metzger says otherwise. “I think it’s not uncommon, but it is hard to because there was about 60 minutes of music to write for Wish,” he said. “And it’s all very full orchestra, as you might gather, along with all these other kinds of colorful elements. And so I didn’t have any time to spare.”
Having worked on multiple Disney productions, he agrees that music is the soul of the films, and the songs of Disney are passed down from generation to generation. He has big hopes for Wish.
“With it being the 100th anniversary of Disney, I think back to my mom. When she was a little girl, she saw Pinocchio and she saw Bambi in the theater. And she took me when I was a child to see The Jungle Book in the theater. And then when I had my children, when they were young, we took them to see Tarzan, and I was very thankful that I had been the orchestrator and arranger on Tarzan, so it was a chance to share that with them,” he recalled.
“If my kids ever have kids, I hope that they will take them to Disney films wherever they are at that point,” he continued. “And I think really what I’m trying to say is that with Disney films, we’re so lucky they have this at this touch point to so many people’s lives, and to bring out joy and happiness. And Wish just a very small part of that. But it means a tremendous amount to be united. So I hope Wish makes the world a better place.”