You may have seen Disney's Emperor's New Groove — the 2000 movie based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale, centering on a bratty teenage monarch — but you probably missed the movie's interesting backstory. In 1997, Tantric gigolo and musician Sting was asked to compose the soundtrack for New Groove (the movie formerly known as Kingdom of the Sun). As part of his contract, Trudie Styler — Sting's wife — came on board as a documentarian, along with filmmaker John-Paul Davidson. The production process doesn't sound like it was a joyride by any stretch of the imagination.
The documentary — The Sweatbox
— got its name, because there was no air conditioning at Disney's screening room in Burbank, California. Animators would be dripping with sweat while their work was being critiqued. Two executives apparently came across as "nerdy bullies who really didn't seem to know what was going on when it came to animation and were unnecessarily hurtful and full of politically correct speech," according to info shared by SlashFilm
. Another endearing moment caught on tape includes the moment Sting was told his songs were being cut from the production — which happened sometime before or after the original director quit (Lion King's
Roger Allers). The film changed from a dramatic tale to a "raucous comedy." SlashFilm shared a few other details about the rare, behind the scenes footage:
"The documentary includes the animators’ initial research trips to Peru, rough sketches, long discussions of color palate and backgrounds, completed animation that was later totally discarded, intense story meetings, Eartha Kitt’s voice recording and glimpses of Sting’s songwriting process. The first 40 minutes or so document the great detail and effort in putting together Kingdom of the Sun. The remainder of the documentary showcases the breakneck rush to complete the film when it becomes The Emperor’s New Groove. The difference in quality is jarring."
The Sweatbox premiered at TIFF in 2002. Disney snatched up the rights to the film and since then it hasn't been released for public viewing (le duh, this is the Mickey Mouse house we're talking about here). Thankfully, someone was kind enough to upload the video on YouTube. If you want to see Disney's hot mess of a project, check out the clip below.