Ben Oliver

Banner image for The Sweatbox

The Sweatbox

The movie that Disney didn’t want you to see.
03 February 2021

A banned-by-Disney ‘making-of’ documentary of Kingdom of the Sun, an animation that went on to become The Emperor’s New Groove.

This is an unusually candid look at the process of making an animated film at Disney. It’s pretty standard DVD-feature stuff until the shit hits the fan and the animators face trial by corporate. The executives do not like the film at all and scrap the whole thing, firing the director and moving in a different direction.

Eventually it even shifts away from being a musical, despite Sting having written a load of songs for it.

It all sounds very dramatic but we are watching people at the top of their game at work. There are no crazy arguments or fights in back rooms, everyone is remarkably professional even when having to back track on 2 years of work.

It’s natural to want to hate the suits from corporate, and they do come over as unnecessarily insensitive bullies. That said, I just re-watched1 The Emperor’s New Groove and it’s pretty great still, probably Disney’s funniest. It’s hard to fault the process shown in The Sweatbox however brutal it may have been.

A fascinating look behind the scenes that Disney should consider formally releasing.