The Emperor's New Groove
The Emperor's New Groove is the thirty-ninth animated feature in the Disney animated features canon. A wacky comedy having more in common with a Looney Tunes or Tex Avery cartoon than a traditional Disney film, The Emperor's New Groove was produced by Randy Fullmer and directed by Mark Dindal. It was produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation over a troubled six-year timeline. During that time the film was altered significantly from its original concept as a more traditional Disney musical entitled Kingdom of the Sun, to have been directed by Dindal and Roger Allers (co-director of The Lion King). The title of the film derives from that of the popular Danish fairy tale, The Emperor's New Clothes.
The Emperor's New Groove was released by Walt Disney Feature Animation and Buena Vista Distribution on December 15, 2000. While not a box-office hit, it was successful enough to warrant a direct-to-video sequel, Kronk's New Groove, released December 2005, and an animated television series, The Emperor's New School, in January 2006.
The setting and culture of The Emperor's New Groove are based on the Inca Empire that developed in what is now modern-day Peru. Along with the architecture, roads, intricate waterworks, sun worship, and llamas as domestic beasts, Kuzco's name is similar to Cusco, the Peruvian city considered the capital of the Inca Empire, and Pacha's name is drawn from Pachacuti, considered the most important ruler of the Inca Empire, and a historical figure. (Note: Pacha means "earth" in Quechua, but apparently there's no link between this and the character's name).
Storyboard reels of deleted scenes appearing on the DVD release include Pacha's father, a hustling inventor of useless items, and a stoner neighbor, as well as a party with all the villagers and an increasingly beleaguered Kuzco-llama.
The film's ending originally had Kuzco building his Kuzcotopia amusement park on another hill near Pacha's, and inviting Pacha and his family to visit. Sting, an environmentalist, protested against the ending because it appeared that Kuzco had destroyed portions of the rain forest to build his park. The ending was rewritten so that Kuzco changes his mind about destroying more land and simply builds a hut similar to Pacha's and spends his vacation among the villagers.
In the German version of the movie, Kuzco was voiced by star comedian Michael "Bully" Herbig. His involvement has led this film to become a "cult movie".
Unlike many previous Disney films, this one is almost completely devoid of musical numbers and/or sing-alongs, which is ironic given the word "groove" in the film's title. It is the first Disney film since 1990's The Rescuers Down Under to not be a musical, and the start of a larger trend where the studio began to move away from musicals in general.
During the climax when Yzma is dosed with one of her own potions, there is a moment where it appears she has transformed into some kind of giant monster, but it is then revealed that she has in fact become a tiny kitten. This is a takeoff on Malifacent transforming into a dragon at the climax of Sleeping Beauty (1959 film), and the general animation cliche of having the villain transform into a huge, threatening creature during the climatic battle with the hero.
Unlike the pack-hunting scourge that is depicted in the movie, in real life black jaguars are both solitary and rare.