A workprint of a lost documentary about the tumultuous making of Disney's 2000 animated The Emperor's New Groove has magically appeared on YouTube (Update: And now it's gone, but we've put up a particularly tense clip). The back story, via MousePlanet's Wade Sampson, prominently features Sting, so you know it's sexy:
In 1997, musical performer and composer Sting was asked by the Walt Disney Company to write the music for a new animated feature called Kingdom of the Sun. It was to be directed by Roger Allers who was basking in the success of his work on The Lion King.
Sting agreed, on the condition that his wife, filmmaker Trudie Styler, could document the process of the production with their own production company, Xingu Films.
The Sweatbox, whose title refers to the air-conditioning-bereft screening room Walt Disney set up to evaluate his employees' work, premiered at the 2002 Toronto Film Festival but has gone virtually unseen by the public ever since. Disney owns the rights and never officially released it. This is possibly because the years-long process of turning Kingdom of the Sun into The Emperor's New Groove was a messy one, full of waffling, bound in bureaucracy and spearheaded by Peter Schneider and Tom Schumacher, the indelicate heads of animation at Disney at the time.
That said, don't get your hopes up: It's not that damning. It's basically a too-many-cooks-in-the-kitchen story about sensitive creative types and the people in charge who have to tell them, "No." Anyone who's been edited knows the story. And, spoiler alert, even the repeatedly jerked-around Sting, who ends up the loudest voice of displeasure in the whole movie, comes around: "As much as I've bitched and moaned about having to write for a committee, and having a censor, an artistic censor, every time I've had to go back and work it, it's better...So, if I'm being honest, I have to say the process does work." None of the fury or vengeance that's described in The Emperor's New Groove's Wikipedia page is depicted.
Yes, it's always great to see Eartha Kitt acting weird (bonus: her voiceover greeting for New York taxis plays at one point, and I've really missed the purred request to buckle up). But this is one that's basically for Sting/Emperor's New Groove enthusiasts only. [via Cartoon Brew]