🤩 20 Facts About ‘The Emperor’s New Groove’
Long before Disney came out with “Coco” there was a chart-topping animated film about an Incan emperor who became a Llama. Of course, the movie was primarily made of a white cast and creators but, most kids of the early 2000s will remember the Disney hit movie. The film Kuzco a snobby and spoiled Llama who learns about himself when he is turned into an animal has tons of facts and trivia of note!
1. The movie was going to be called “Kingdom of The Sun”Walt Disney Company
In 1994, Roger Allers the director behind the film “The Lion King” started working on a few ideas he had for a classic Disney style epic set in the ancient Incan Empire called “Kingdom of the Sun”. The film was actually supposed to be an Incan spin of the Mark Twain book “Prince and The Pauper” where an Incan emperor accidentally switches places with a commoner who looked like him. In the original plan for the story, the Incan emperor meets his doppelganger and switches places with him for fun only to run into trouble when a royal sorceress discovers the switch and turns the emperor into a llama.
2. A Documentary was made about the film.Walt Disney Company
Production for “Kingdom of the Sun” which later became “The Emperor’s New Groove” was quite the mess. It was originally going to be a musical and Disney had brought Sting on to compose and produce 6 songs for the movie. It was meant to keep up with the success of “The Lion King which had songs created by Elton John. As part of his negotiations for the film, Sting was able to get producers to agree to allow his wife Trudie Styler to make a documentary about the film’s production. The film was ultimately called “The Sweatbox” and followed the various ups and downs of the film’s production.
3. Yzma has a song that you can find online.Walt Disney Company
Yzma’s song “Snuff Out The Light” can still be found online. Eartha Kitt had lent her voice to the track which narrates Yzma’s jealous and desire to take over Kuzco’s position of power in the kingdom. In the song, she sings about zapping out the light in the kingdom and welcoming in demons and beasts that love and thrive in the darkness. The song also was meant to give audiences a better look into Yzma’s background and origin story. In the original film, Yzma’s father was supposed to be a royal mortician who trained her to use magic to prolong her life.
4. The film isn’t based on The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Fans of the film often mistake the movie for being inspired by the Hans Christian Anderson book “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Yep, the Hans Christian Anderson who inspried various other Disney feature films including “Frozen” and “The Little Mermaid.Funnily Enough, “The Emporer’s Groove” is not inspired by the Anderson tale. Actually, the similar phrasing the two titles of the stories are just plain old coincidental. The single and only running theme that can be mistaken for the same is the theme that the arrogance of royalty is a problem. Other than that, the two stories are completely not the same!
5. The movie is filled with subtle visual jokes.Walt Disney Company
Disney fans know that the big brand’s movies might be geared towards kids but have pretty clever jokes for adults as well. This fact is easy to see all throughout “Emperor’s New Groove” which is so funny, we have tow under if it wasn’t really just made for adults. When Yzma pours poison into the cactus plant, after Kuzco’s neck transforms, the cactus transforms into the shape of a llama. Later, when Kronk tries to hide Kuzco in the bag, the camera pulls back and shows a painting of two figures pointing at Kronk. Later, when bridge falls into the river, the word DAMN can be seen falling among the individual slats of wood.
6. Apparently, they really wanted a white man as the lead.Walt Disney Company
Despite the fact that Kusco is a Peruvian character, Disney seemed to have its heart set on casting a popular white male character. In fact, Owen Wilson was originally going to voice Pacha. He was supposed to be a very lowly peasant, who wasn’t even the strong character who was a leader of his village that he turned out to be in the film. In the original plans for the film, Pacha was supposed to meet the Emperor betrothed, Nina who was going to be voiced by Carla Gugino. Pacha and Nina would ultimately fall in love. It’s all pretty bizarre and insane.
7. Kronks spinach puffs aren’t what some might think.Walt Disney Company
Ah Kronk’s famous spinach puffs. Not actually spinach puffs, but more like empanadas. Most Latinos will recognize the delicious treats as empanadas but the word isn’t totally recognizable to those outside of the Latin community or unfamiliar with their cuisine and culture. To ensure the word was understood by all of its audience members, Disney decided to use the word”puff” because they believed it was the closest word in the English language to describe an empanada. So if you’re ever interested in recreating Kronk’s beloved pastry dish, be sure to follow up with a recipe for empanadas that have spinach inside.
8. Kuzco’s name has ancient roots.Walt Disney Company
Kuzco, the main character of “Emperor’s New Groove” was named after the ancient capital of the Incas, Cuzco. His name was based on the Capital of the Inca Empire which, at the time, was located in the modern-day country of Peru. The city was located on the crossroads of the corners of all four of the major cities of the Incan Empire. But’s it’s not just Kuszco’s name that’s drawn from history. Pacha’s name also has a historical reference as well. In the Incan language, which is called Quechua, Pacha means Earth. It’s a name that fits Pacha’s character pretty well when you consider that he’s the one that brings Kuzco down to earth in terms of perspective.
10. Kuzco is the second Disney protagonist to be of indigenous descent and Sting worked to save indigenous elements of the film.Walt Disney Company
Kuzco is from the Incan empire. Pocahontas is Disney’s first Indigenous princess and the third is Kenai from “Brother Bear.” Disney hasn’t always done indigenous portrayals well, but when it came to “Emperor’s New Groove” Sting made sure they didn’t mess it up. In the original ending of the final, the final draft had Kuzco build his home amusement park on a hill that a rain forest had been on. Sting took a strong pass on the end and wrote Disney a letter saying “You do this, I’m resigning because this is exactly the opposite of what I stand for. I’ve spent 20 years trying to defend the rights of indigenous people and you’re just marching over them to build a theme park. I will not be party to this.”
11. It’s the first time a Disney animated film featured a pregnant woman.Walt Disney Company
In the Disney movie, Kuzco’s sidekick, and really saving grace, Pacha is married to a strong and confident woman named Chicha. Her character is clever and wise and also the mother of two other children who are constantly running around and creating chaos. Still, Pacha’s wife, Chicha, handles all of this while pregnant for most of the movie and it isn’t until the very end of the film that she has hers and Pacha’s child. Chicha is portrayed as a wise and loving mother whose capable of solving most problems that come her way. She’s a great figure for kids to look up to.
12. Patrick Warburton improvised Kronk’s hummed theme song.Walt Disney Company
“Emperor’s New Groove” let a bit of room for improvisation for its actors of the film. In a great scene from the movie, Patrick Warburton, who portrayed the somewhat dense character Kronk’s, improvised a song that the character hums in the film. In the scene in the film, Kronk has captured Kuzco and carries him towards a massive waterfall. During their treck, he hums a little song that is pretty clever and funny. To make sure they wouldn’t have any problems with the film rights, Disney’s legal department made Warburton sign all rights to the humming composition over to them.
13. Inside jokes were rampant in the movie.Walt Disney Company
Disney has quite a few inside jokes peppered all throughout most of its films and their 2000 film “Emperor’s New Groove” is no different. In fact, inside jokes amongst the film’s cast and crew run rampant throughout the movie. One hilarious example comes in the scene where Pacha carries Kuzco through the jungle. By this point, Pacha and Kuzco have yet to truly rub off on each other they way that they do towards the end of the film, in the movie scene they both argue about Kuzco’s low blood sugar. It’s a joke rooted in David Spade’s hypoglycemia.
14. There’s a “Wizard of Oz” reference you missed!Walt Disney Company
In the third act of the film Kuzco and Pacha search for potions. During the scene, Pacha says, “Lions, tigers, bears…” when they find a potion for humans and find that it is missing Yzma says “oh my.” It’s a scene that the director of the film actually completely hated and didn’t want to see make it to the screen. Unfortunately for them, they were pressured to include the inside joke by the head of Disney Feature Animation Thomas Schumacher. The joke is a bit contrived and dad joke-like but it is kind of a fun reference to a film classic.
15. Yzma usually wears purple.Walt Disney Company
The color which is typically associated with madness and royalty. It represents what Yzma is and what she wants to be. Another little fun fact about Yzma is that Barbara Streisand almost took on her voice. She’s one of the most well-known performers of era and is known for her voice, but she had never done voice acting. The actress was almost cast in the role of the film’s great big villain but the role ended up being given to Eartha Kitt. The reason for Kitt’s casting is still unknown but her take on the villain was loved by the creators of the film.
16. You better believe there’s a Citizen Kane reference.Walt Disney Company
In the scene where Kuzco is in Kronk’s bag, there’s a pretty hilarious reference to Citizen Kane. The scene sees Kronk trying his best to make the most out of life while attempting to kill of Kuzco who is llama form. While walking the streets with Kuzco in the bag he wears on his back, he starts humming a very similar soundtrack to Mission Impossible. The scene also includes a Citizen Kane reference in which Kronk starts to second-guess his mission of killing Kuzco by sending him over a waterfall. The scene zooms out and shows a monkey eating a bug. It’s a lot like the scene in Citizen Kane when a clouded building is zoomed out of to reveal a group of monkeys snacking on bugs.
17. Yzma was a rarity for women.Walt Disney Company
Disney has done a lot to distort the image of women it’s films. More often than not, it’s princesses are white, slender and patriarchaly perfect. Cinderella, Ariel, Snow White, Rapunzel are just a few characters that fall into this understanding of how Disney likes it’s women. Even it’s female characters of color, ones like Pocahontas, Taina and Mulan take on physical attributions that are considered just right in the Disney sphere. Rarely do women get to play the part of the villain in their films. It’s why Yzma’s role as an incredibly awful villain is so interesting and refreshing to watch. In the film, she’s one of the few female Disney Villains to be physically fought in a Disney movie.
18. John Fielder is in it.Walt Disney Company
John Fiedler has had a long a prominent career in the world of voice acting for years. Fiedler was a voice actor who worked on Winnie the Pooh and The Fox and the Hound. Emperor’s New Groove was his only film where he voiced a human character. In “The Emperor’s New Groove” the voice actor took on the role of Old Man who gets kicked out of the temple. Fiedler died five years later at the Lillian Booth Actors’ Home in Englewood in New Jersey. He was 80 years old and had just finished recording his lines for Piglet in “Pooh’s Heffalump Movie.”
19. David Mamet thinks the film is one of Disney’s most innovate.Walt Disney Company
Famed playwright David Mamet who wrote The Postman Always Rings Twice (1981) and The Verdict (1982) turned out to be a big fan of the film’s script. The American playwright and film director once said that “Emperor’s New Groove” was the “most brilliantly innovative which Hollywood has produced in recent years.” Still, despite Mamet’s original opinions about the original script, “Emperor’s New Groove” had a box office debut with gains that were quite a bit lower than the ones previous Disney Feature Animation productions released during the 90s. Despite its critical acclaim it was pretty much a big Disney flop.
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