Pop Culture | Movies | 00s
'The Emperor's New Groove' Was Almost A Drama About Two Lookalikes
The Emperor's New Groove is one of those Disney movies that didn't get a lot of love financially, but I've never met anyone who watched it that didn't absolutely love it.
This hilarious animated gem had a great cast of genuinely funny people, including David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt and Patrick Warburton. The story of a young and arrogant emperor who gets turned into a llama and has to learn a few lessons on his way back to being restored, the movie somehow takes a pretty old concept and injects it with lots of modern humor that's still great to this day.
Seriously, who didn't love when Kuzco and Pacha went down the waterfall?
Or when Kronk was being all sneaky.
Or how Kronk could never find the right lever.
It's really hard not to love The Emperor's New Groove, which is why it's so surprising that for the longest time, the movie that Disney planned for it to be was actually nothing like what we got! In fact, it originally had a completely different title: Kingdom of the Sun.
Click to the next page to find out more about what The Emperor's New Groove was originally supposed to be like!
Kingdom of the Sun began development in 1994, a full six years before The Emperor's New Groove would end up being released. It was conceived by The Lion King director Roger Allers and greenlit by CEO Michael Eisner, who said "it has all of the elements of a classic Disney film."
The story was supposed to be a retelling of the classic tale The Prince and the Pauper; Kuzco was going to be a selfish emperor who trades places with a peasant that looks exactly like him, and is then turned into a llama by his evil advisor.
David Spade was still cast as Kuzco, as was Eartha Kitt as Yzma, and it also had Owen Wilson as the peasant Kuzco, and Laura Prepon as a female llama herder named Mata that Kuzco falls in love with.
However, after the underwhelming performance of both Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the studio worried that the project was too ambitious and serious, and demanded that it have more humor added in. They also commissioned Sting to make original songs for it, after the success of working with Elton John on The Lion King.
Production slowed to a crawl, and when the executives demanded that it wrap up production by 2000, Allers left the project. Production then completely stopped as other staff tried to salvage the project, with storyboard artist Chris Williams pitching the idea to make it "a simple comedy that's basically a buddy road picture with two guys being chased in the style of a Chuck Jones 'toon, but faster paced."
The script was rewritten, roles were recast, and eventually the trailer for The Emperor's New Groove was released in early 2000, now looking like Williams' pitch. It was ultimately a comedy, and it's a movie we still love today!