15 years ago on December 15th, one of the most beloved (and completely underrated) Disney animated movies hit theaters. The lovable story of an arrogant Emperor turned Llama instantly became a fan favorite and continues to live on in the hearts of many. To celebrate the movie's 15th birthday, I've compiled a list of 15 surprising facts you might not have know!
1) The Movie Was Originally Called "The Empire of the Sun"
In the early days, we almost got a completely different movie! In this version the evil Yzma wanted to get rid of the sun because it gave her wrinkles. In The Empire of the Sun the Emperor Manco (still voiced by Kuzco actor David Spade) switched places with Pacha (who was completely different and voiced by Owen Wilson and not John Goodman). Then Manco was turned into a non-talking llama.
2) First Pregnant Animated Character
According to the DVD's commentary, this was the first time that Disney had included a pregnant woman in any of their animated features. In case you forgot, Chicha, who is Pacha's wife, was pregnant during the entire movie.
3) The Song Kronk Hums Is Improvised
In a scene that would soon become iconic, the misunderstood henchman Kronk carries the now llama-fied Kuzco in a bag on his way to the waterfall. While carrying the bag, Kronk hums a spy-like theme song. As it turns out, Patrick Warburton improvised the catchy tune and later signed the rights to the hum over to the Disney legal department.
4) Sting Wrote the Music
Unlike many Disney movies, The Emperor's New Groove doesn't feature a lot of singing in it. However, some fans might be surprised to learn that Sting of the Police was responsible for creating the soundtrack for the film.
5) Yzma is Catwoman
Towards the end of the movie, the primary antagonist is turned into a cat by one of her own potions. This happens to be a reference to actress Eartha Kit who not only gave voice to Yzma but played Catwoman in the Batman television series of the 1960s.
6) Happy Days Are Here Again
Pop Star/Movie Diva Barbra Streisand was originally the first to choice to play Yzma before the role ultimately went to Eartha Kit. Barbra Streisand is one of few people who have won an Emmy, Oscar, Tony, and Grammy! Is she one talented woman!
7) Rules of Engagement
Two of the main characters in the movie, Kuzco and Kronk, were voiced by David Spade and Patrick Warburton. Both Spade and Warburton are primary cast members in the television sitcom Rules of Engagement.
8) John is Human!
John Fiedler is best known as the voice behind Piglet in almost every Winnie-The-Pooh since his start in the 1988 television series. His role in The Emperor's New Groove (2000) marked the first time he had voiced a character non-Winnie the Pooh related since The Fox and the Hound (1981). It was also the first time ever he voiced a human character.
9) What's New Pussycat?
For the opening number "Perfect World", Sting was originally supposed to sing it. However, it was decided that he sounded "too old" and they hired Tom Jones to sing instead. Tom Jones is actually 11 years older than Sting but has a younger sounding voice.
10) Kuzco or Cusco?
Kuzco is the name of the Emperor in the movie, however, he is named after the ancient Inca city Cusco in southeastern Peru.
11) Purple is for the Mad!
Every time we see Yzma, she is often either wearing purple or is in some other way surrounded by it. The animation team did this on purpose as purple is said to represent madness! And we certainly know Yzma has plenty of that!
12) Sting's Wife Did What?
Sting's wife, Trudy Styler, was very involved in the production of the movie and often talked with her husband (that's how you keep a healthy relationship). She decided to create a documentary called The Sweatbox about the movie that discussed issues with getting the script off the ground and delays in production. The documentary, however, is owned by Disney and has never (legally) been released.
13) Kronk's New Groove
Some fans may be unaware that a sequel came out in 2005 following he life of henchman Kronk. In the sequel, Kronk is working in a diner and trying to win the approval of his father who thinks cooking is for women. He is also in charge of some Squirrel Scouts and tries to win the affection of an acrobatic woman.
14) The Emperor's New School
In 2006 Disney decided to make a television show about Kuzco's attempts to graduate from the empire's high school. Some of the original cast returned, such as Eartha Kitt (Yzma) and Patrick Warburton (Kronk), but David Spade was replaced with JP Manoux (Kuzco). The show was mildly successful and was discontinued after it's 2008 season after 52 episodes.
15) Kuzco Really Does Know Squirrel
When voice actor Patrick Warburton was asked if it was difficult to learn to speak squirrel Warburton replied " Well, I’ve gotta tell you – you really should be well-versed in the languages of all woodland creatures." He even said it in Kronk's voice!