The Road To El Dorado

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  • Directed By: Bibo Bergeron, Don Paul
  • Written By: Terry Rossio, Ted Elliott, Karey Kirkpatrick
  • Release Date: March 31, 2000
  • Domestic Distributor: DreamWorks
  • Cast: Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Rosie Perez

Box Office Info:
Budget: $95 million (estimated) Financed by: DreamWorks
Domestic Gross: $50,863,742 Overseas Gross: $25,568,985

The Road To El Dorado was a miserable one, which had a nightmare production that dragged out for nearly five years.  Dreamworks’ second traditionally animated feature after The Prince of Egypt (1998) was originally being animated as a PG-13 rated movie geared toward older audiences, but studio co-founder Jeffrey Katzenberg eventually decided to tone the picture down to a more family friendly rating.  The script was being thrown together during animation, disrupting the tone, which was changing back and forth from adventure to comedy.  The chaotic and mismanaged production led the animators and producers to refer to the movie as El Dorado: The Lost City on Hold.

In 1998, with the animators demoralized and the story haphazardly being retooled by committee, directors Will Finn and David Silverman were fired and replaced by Bibo Bergeron and Don Paul.  The Road To El Dorado became more and more broad in its comedy and ultimately a tone deaf and irritating goofy comedy about spanish conquistadors who initiate a genocide.  Despite the mess that was production, DreamWorks expected this to launch a franchise.  The budget for The Road To El Dorado was reported at $95 million — though that number is suspect considering the years of prolonged animation and its box office failure crippled DreamWorks’ bottom line so severely that they had to re-negotiate a new billion dollar credit line from their main investor Paul Allen, who had a 24.5% stake in the company.

After missing its planned late 1999 release date, The Road To El Dorado was dated for March 31, 2000.  DreamWorks reportedly spent over $50M on a domestic marketing spend and additional exposure was from a Burger King tie-in.  It bowed against The Skulls and High Fidelity and reviews were mixed.  It opened below estimates with a soft $12,846,652 — placing #2 for the weekend led by holdover Erin Brockovich.  The Road To El Dorado declined a modest 29.3% to $9,085,803 the following session and it continued to post modest drops in attendance, but the domestic run closed with a very disappointing $50,863,742.  DreamWorks would see returned about $27.9M after theaters take their percentage of the gross.

The Road To El Dorado went out through UIP in most overseas markets and it was a complete dud, with the theatrical receipts stalling at $25.5M.  This animated flop lost at least $80 million.


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  1. I watched it again the other night, IT’s not that bad a movie, The plot is all over the place, as there’s never a “liar revealed” scene when it feels there was supposed to be one, and the ending is them just walking off.

    But it’s more a buddy comedy, rather than a kids animated movie.

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