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Troubled Production. In Hollywood, those two words are like a virus that can attach themselves to a healthy movie, activate the negative rumor mill and essentially kill the film before it reaches theatres.

Disney’s latest animated feature, THE EMPEROR'S NEW GROOVE (in theaters December 15th) was a victim of the “Troubled Production Virus.” However, those involved with the film want to assure everyone that rumors of its death were greatly exaggerated. In fact, it feels just fine.

“It’s frustrating that things leak out,” said producer Randy Fullmer. “It’s as if an artist decides to work on a painting for five days and someone comes along and critiques it on day one.” He also added, “The first two years we were working on this film, people were pouring out their hearts and souls, trying to make a good movie. We eventually just took a step back and said, ‘We are really on the wrong track.”

Here’s how it played out: In 1994, Disney began development on a dramatic epic film entitled KINGDOM OF THE SUN. Rooted in pre-Columbian legend, the film was to feature all of the traditional Disney animated elements—the hero, the love interest, the villain, the sidekick—as well as several familiar song archetypes—the ballad, the showstopper, the comedy song.

What was different about KINGDOM was that it was going to be set in a specific time period, which turned out to be not only it’s major ambition, but also it’s major downfall. “One day, literally, we had an argument about whether it was right to put a wheel in the movie,” remembered Fullmer. “The Spanish were the ones who brought over the wheel [to South America] and since the Spanish hadn't arrived yet, could we really have a cart with a wheel on it? At the end of that day, we realized that we were heading in the wrong direction.”

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