The Emperor's New Groove

  • The Emperor's New Groove box office disney
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  • Directed By: Mark Dindal
  • Written By: David Reynolds
  • Release Date: December 15, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: Disney
  • Cast: David Spade, John Goodman, Eartha Kitt

Box Office Info:
Budget: $100 million (estimated)Financed by: Disney
Domestic Gross: $89,302,687Overseas Gross: $80,025,000

The Emperor’s New Groove began development in 1994 under the title Kingdom of the Sun as a dramatic epic adventure story, loosely inspired by Mark Twain’s The Prince and the Pauper.  Director Roger Allers was given more creative freedom to helm Kingdom of the Sun than the mouse house usually allots to its productions, as Allers had gained the trust of Disney executives after salvaging the troubled production of The Lion King (1994), turning it into their most successful animated movie ever.  Part way through production of Kingdom of the Sun, Disney brought on Mark Dindal to co-direct the picture and the two directors were basically making two different movies — Allers’ footage was more serious in tone and Dindal’s footage was more light and goofy.  An early test screening in 1998 did not bode well for the movie, which had a schizophrenic tone and Disney began to interfere to get the movie into releasable shape for its 2000 release date.

Roger Allers tried to get Disney to give the production an extension to work out the story issues, but they refused since Disney had to release the picture in 2000 to keep their promotional tie-ins from McDonalds, Coca Cola, General Mills and many others.  Allers quit the project and demanded his name be removed.  Three years into active development and 1 1/2 years into actual production, Kingdom of the Sun looked to be completely dead.  It was ultimately decided to ditch the The Prince and the Pauper direction and move ahead with a new silly version of the story, where the lead gets turned into a llama — which became The Emperor’s New Groove.  All of the animated footage from Kingdom of the Sun, of which $30M was already spent, was scrapped.

With Mark Dindal now in charge of the production, he was eventually granted a deadline extension.  Disney swapped release dates with Dinosaur and moved The Emperor’s New Groove to the prime end of year holiday slot on December 15 and Dinosaur was pushed forward to May 2000.  It has been reported that Dinosaur was hurt by the move, by rushing the film to completion, story problems were unable to be addressed.  The budget for The Emperor’s New Groove was estimated at $100 million — though the number is suspect considering the torturous production history.

Despite the messy behind the scenes issues, The Emperor’s New Groove was warmly received by critics.  It bowed against What Women Want and Dude, Where’s My Car? and would have direct competition with How the Grinch Stole Christmas, which was still going strong in its 5th weekend.  The Emperor’s New Groove pulled in a terrible $9,812,302 — placing #4 for the frame led by What Women Want.  Auds gave the toon a strong “A” Cinemascore and it saw a modest 21.5% second session decline to $7,698,635.  Over the New Year’s frame there was a 47% uptic in business to $11,319,523 and The Emperor’s New Groove continued to hold on at the box office — but the domestic run closed with a disappointing $89,302,687.  It was the second major animated wipeout at Disney in 2000 after Fantasia 2000.

Overseas business was soft, where it pulled in $80M.  The worldwide total stalled at $169.3M.  Disney would see returned about $93.1M after theaters take their percentage of the gross, which would not even fully cover the global P&A expenses.

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