The Emperor's New Groove Didn't Have an [INSERT NOUN HERE] By the Time It Was in Theaters

Kuzco about to be chased by a group of jaguars.
Kuzco about to be chased by a group of jaguars.
Screenshot: Disney

Because you’re reading io9, you understand that by the time a movie makes its way to theaters or to a streaming platform, the project has gone through countless revisions at almost every step of the production process, from initial conceptualization to reshoots to the day the finished product is available to audiences.


Movies don’t just happen—they’re gargantuan efforts that require massive amounts of organization and coordination to get off the ground, especially when it comes to big-budget animated features produced by major Hollywood studios. While there’s no question that an incalculable amount of time and energy went into the creation of Disney’s The Emperor’s New Groove, Vulture’s new oral history of the movie describes how, unbeknownst to the public, the creative team was able to deliver a finalized movie that went out for theatrical distribution...despite the fact that there was never a finalized working script attached to the film.

In Vulture’s piece, The Emperor’s New Groove screenwriter David Reynolds describes how, after being given the heads-up by a friend working for the studio that archives would eventually come asking for the movie’s final script for recordkeeping purposes, Reynolds had no real script to offer. Though The Emperor’s New Groove was already in theaters, the scenes in the movie were comprised of various moments from unbound pages that were...around, in the sense that they existed.

“They had a couple interns just take all the pages and put them into a document, and then they wrote interstitials, and they slapped my name on it,” Reynolds said. “This is the honest-to-God truth: The first and only draft of The Emperor’s New Groove was handed in two weeks after the movie was in theaters.”

The implication here is that while The Emperor’s New Groove’s production team was able to crank out a movie, the process apparently wasn’t as streamlined and meticulous as one would imagine Disney productions to be. It’s likely that things like this happen more often than studios are inclined to let on, so as to not appear as if they’re just making things up as they go along. But it’s good to hear someone close to the project own up to how wild the creative process actually was.

The Emperor’s New Groove is now streaming on Disney+.


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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.



Still one of the best Disney movies.

Funny, irreverent, and no princesses.