"The Emperor's New Groove" "The Emperor's New Groove"

Disney doesn’t want you to see The Sweatbox, the behind-the-scenes documentary about its 2000 feature The Emperor’s New Groove — the making of the film was just too messy. While the doc languishes in the company’s vaults (and unofficially, online), you can check out the next-best thing: a thoroughly researched account of the animated film’s creation in Vulture. Read it HERE.

The Emperor’s New Groove is something of a paradox: a cult classic from the world’s biggest animation studio. Its breezy, zany humor contrasts sharply with the more dramatic epics that revived Disney’s fortunes in the 1990s, and this has earned the film a following of its own.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, this outlier in the Disney canon emerged from an unconventional production, which Vulture writer Bilge Ebiri lays out in wonderful detail. Ebiri has spoken to many of the key players in the film’s creation, who, now freed from the Disney omertà, can speak frankly about the joys, pains, and absurdities of the process.

Theirs is a story of ambition and confusion, sudden inspirations and crushed dreams, tough deadlines from McDonald’s and testy exchanges with Sting (who wrote half a dozen songs for the film, most of which were discarded). Sting’s wife Trudie Styler and her filmmaking partner John Paul Davidson filmed it all, only for their tell-all documentary to be buried soon after it was finished. Two decades on, Disney still hasn’t released it.

Vulture has some of the strongest animation coverage of any generalist entertainment publication. In October, it published a mammoth rundown of the 100 most significant sequences in animation history, which is worth a look.

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