A workprint of a lost documentary about the tumultuous making of Disney’s 2000 animated The Emperor’s New Groove appeared on YouTube some weeks ago, but was subsequently removed. The back story, via MousePlanet’s Wade Sampson, prominently features Sting.
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.
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 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.”
We watched and enjoyed it.
[b]Note:[/b] The film “The Emperor’s New Groove” received an Academy Award nomination for Best Song for “My Funny Friend and Me” performed by Sting, but lost against “Things Have Changed” by Bob Dylan from Wonder Boys.