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Trivia / Atlantis: The Lost Empire

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  • Bad Export for You: The European DVD has a tiny aspect ratio of 1.33:1, which is much smaller than the original 2.39:1. Luckily the original ratio was restored on both digital versions and the Blu-Ray.
  • Box Office Bomb: This was released two months after the literal monster hit that was Shrek (which involved former Disney executive Jeffrey Katzenberg) and around the same time as the original The Fast and the Furious, as well as opening the same day as Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. As a result, it made only $186 million against a budget of $120 million, making it one of Disney's biggest underperformers. This, along with the underperformance of Pearl Harbor, prompted Peter Schneider (then chairman of Walt Disney Pictures, and former vice president of Feature Animation) to step down to form his own theatre production company.
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  • Creator Killer: The film's failure at the box office was one of the events that led to Michael Eisner being exiled from Disney and stalled the careers of directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale (who'd previously directed Beauty and the Beast and The Hunchback of Notre Dame); Trousdale has since gone on to work on DreamWorks animated shorts while Wise eventually moved to a few documentaries, but was credited on an animated film with Open Season. In addition, this was the first in the set of dominoes that made Disney give up on traditional animation (apart from DisneyToon Studios) for a brief period. Then they returned to traditional animation for a short time, but now it seems as though that won't happen again.
  • Creator's Favorite: Cree Summer lists Princess Kida as her favorite role, because she got to be a Disney Princess.
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  • Deleted Scene: The prologue was going to show a group of Vikings using the Shepherd's Journal and encountering the Leviathan instead of the Great Flood.
  • Development Gag: The commentary tells a story about how there used to be a mystic named Zoltan (who used to speak in the third person, for some reason) along for the ride. At one point everybody sounds off after falling down a hole. For the longest time he was still there shouting "Zoltan is okay!" even after his character had been written out of the script. Interestingly enough, Cookie's robotic mule can still be seen in the final film, while Rourke is accused of plotting to sell the Heart of Atlantis to Kaiser Wilhelm, which was a discarded plotline.
  • Dueling Movies: This was the second Disney Animated Canon film in a row to deal with DreamWorks Pictures' The Road to El Dorado, this time with the hidden city/Ms. Fanservice lead angle. This duel was much closer than the one with The Emperor's New Groove thanks to both Atlantis and El Dorado scoring about the same Rotten Tomatoes score (upper 40's), underperforming, and becoming Stillborn Franchises. Atlantis does have an edge as it got a Direct to Video sequel, while El Dorado was a worse Box Office Bomb and buried that franchise stone dead before DreamWorks could do anything with it. But given the reception of Atlantis' second film from both audiences and critics, it's not much of a victory.
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  • Executive Meddling: The film was originally intended to be a creature feature adventure film. Then the Disney execs decided that they needed to get to Atlantis quicker, and so much potential was wasted.
  • Fake American: Canadian actor Michael J. Fox once again fakes an American accent as Milo.
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  • In Memoriam: The movie is dedicated to Jim Varney, the voice of Cookie, who died from lung cancer partway through production.
  • Multiple Languages, Same Voice Actor: Italian voice actor Pasquale Anselmo did the voice of Vinny for the Spanish versions (both Spain and Mexico) of the film aside from the Italian version.
  • Old Shame: For Disney, owing to its very poor box office performance.
  • The Other Darrin:
    • Cookie's lines in the goodbye scene are the only Cookie dialogue delivered by Steve Barr instead of Jim Varney.
    • James Arnold Taylor replaced Michael J. Fox for the role of Milo in the sequel.
    • The cutscenes in the game adaptation are actual clips of the film but with the voice actors re-dubbed by the game's VA cast.
  • The Other Marty:
    • Lloyd Bridges was cast as Whitmore, but died just as production began. John Mahoney was given the role instead.
    • In the Spanish version, the voice of Vanessa Garcel from the Mexican dub was used for Audrey's dialogue to give her a distinctive Latina personality and accent. However, Spanish voice actress Cristina Yuste did some small takes to replace Mexican jargon words that Spanish viewers might not get, and there's rumor that she was originally slated to dub the whole character before they decided to use Garcel's recordings. Yuste also went to voice Audrey in the videogame of the film.
  • Playing Against Type: James Garner playing a mercenary villain. Also one of the few times Cree Summer has not been a Sassy Black Woman.
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  • Recycled: The Series: A cartoon series called Team Atlantis was planned, but never came to fruition; the Direct to Video "sequel" is really just a few episodes of it strung together. Amongst the ideas proposed for this series was a crossover with Gargoyles, which is broadly considered a canonical part of Gargoyles according to Word of God.
  • Referenced by...: In Elena of Avalor episode "The Magic Within", Elena's power-up is based on Kida with the Heart of Atlantis as well as the Sailor Moon Transformation Sequence.
  • Refitted for Sequel: The lava whales from Milo's Return.
  • Stillborn Franchise: This film's failure to perform led to the in-development sequel getting cancelled and the planned TV series getting recut into a Direct to Video film, and also shelved the intended Gargoyles crossover.
  • Swan Song: Jim Varney, who played Cookie, died from lung cancer in February 2000, over a year before its release. According to those who worked with Varney, he signed on knowing he wouldn't live to see the finished film.
  • Throw It In:
    • After Milo gets seasick the first time, he mutters "Carrots. Why is it always carrots?" This was an ad-lib from Michael J. Fox and the filmmakers kept it.
    • Much of Vinny's dialogue. Actor Don Novello just started rambling and the production crew liked it better than the scripted dialogue.
    • Like Vinny, this applies to much of Cookie's dialogue as well.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • A crossover with Gargoyles was planned, but never made. Disney had been planning to make a series out of the movie, but turned it into a direct-to-video when it underperformed at the box office. This is also true with the future of this film's merchandise: To date, the only characters from the film that still appear in the merchandise are, due to Disney's merchandising policy of marketing the villains of flopped pictures, Rourke and Helga.
    • The submarine ride at Disneyland was originally going to be based off this film, but the film's failure resulted in that ride being based off Finding Nemo instead. However, there is a restaurant at Castaway Cay called Cookie's BBQ, and part of Port Discovery's background music at Tokyo DisneySea is taken from this movie.
    • Jim Hill has an article that goes on in length about things that were cut from the movie, which includes deleted scenes of the Squid Bats and Lava Whales. There was also a plan, very early in production, for a magician character, Zoltan the Magnificent.
    • A behind-the-scenes footage found on the DVD release and one of the tie-in games shows the original intro was of a group of vikings searching for Atlantis only to be attacked by a sea monster while engulfed in a storm, fully animated, voiced and with sound effects. While mystifying, the executives felt no connection nor desire to learn more about the city or its inhabitants so the intro was done over.
    • At one point, Mark Hamill was considered to voice Mole. Just think about it...Luke Skywalker, Mr. Spock, and Marty McFly in a film with a story by Joss Freakin' Whedon.
    • According to the commentary on DVD and Blu-ray, during previous drafts, Mole was just a stuffy scientist, Helga and Rourke were going to have a thing for each other, Rourke was going to be a German spy, and the eye over the pyramid on the back of the US dollar was going to be used to help locate the heart of Atlantis. Also, Milo was going to be related to Blackbeard at one point.
    • In an earlier version of the script, during the final battle, after failing to struck down Milo with the axe, Rourke was going to leave the axe and pull out a revolver to shoot Milo. However, Milo would have shoved the piece of crystallized glass in the revolver's barrel, leading it to backfire and rendering Rourke blind once the shards hit his eyes, causing Rourke to fall to his death. As this fate for Rourke was too similar to Helga's Disney Villain Death, the writers opted to rewrite the scene.
    • According to Word of God on the DVD commentary, each tunnel would have led to a different monster, although we only see one in the finished film.
    • Before James Garner was cast as Rourke, Jack Davenport, Tommy Lee Jones, Nathaniel Parker and Kurt Russell were all considered.
    • In a 2020 interview, Kirk Wise revealed that a true sequel was being planned out at one point. It would have introduced a new villain who was described as "wearing big, scary, wool, bulky, World War I-style clothing with a frightening gas mask" and would have lead an army of mercenaries to take back Atlantis to finish Rourke's work. The twist would have been that this new villain was actually Helga Sinclair who survived her fall at the end of the first film and be brought back as a "early-20th-century cyborg"


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