Accidentally Correct Writing: Roads in the Inca Empire actually did have rest stops that provided food and lodging, but they were obviously nothing like the modern-day Greasy Spoon depicted in the film.
Acclaimed Flop: This film did get decent reviews but failed to make more than double its budget.
In the Italian dub, professional comedians Luca Bizzarri and Paolo Kessisoglu dub Kuzco and Kronk respectively, and Yzma is dubbed by none other than the late Anna Marchesini, an Italian comedy legend.
In the Brazilian dub, Kuzco is voiced by Selton Mello (who ironically initally started his carrer as voice actor, providing voices for the Brazilian dub of movies like The Breakfast Club and The Goonies and even voiced Doofus Drake in DuckTales (1987)), Pacha is voiced by Humberto Martins, Yzma is voiced by Marieta Severo and Theme Song Guy is voiced by famous musician Ed Motta (who previously worked with Disney in The Hunchback of Notre Dame by singing the brazilian version of Someday, and the brazilian version of the songs from Tarzan).
In Norway, the title is "A Kingdom for a Llama", because the word "groove" doesn't really have a good equivalent. Some merchandise does name it after its original title however (with "style" replacing "groove"), though the former mentioned remains the most known.
The German title translates the same as the Norwegian one, probably because translating the original title would have sounded extremely forced.
The Hungarian title can be roughly translated as "Mindless Empire" or "The Empire Gone Crazy".
The French title translates as "Kuzco, The Egotistical Emperor" (albeit with a very familiar term for 'egotistical').
"And then there was that truly evil epoch called DisneyToon Studios, wherein actually solving script problems with storyboard work was a capital offense, when Disney executives figured that they were the REAL storytellers and directors were nothing but "hired wrists" who were brought on to know how to make animation out of the hash they were handed to work with. The day that I objected to the whole idea of a "cheerleading camp" in ancient Peru (because the writer's wife was SO TOTALLY into cheer camp), at a production meeting with the president of DisneyToon Studios, was the day I signed my death warrant therein. When I questioned the anachronism of the two, I was loudly accosted by said president, who screamed at me: "You're being unproductive, Robin! This movie doesn't even HAVE TO BE IN ANCIENT PERU! It could be in OUTER SPACE! You're not being a TEAM PLAYER!!!" There wasn't much creative logic going in there, in those days. "Put it in a jewel case and ship it" seemed to be the overriding principle."
Creator Cameo: According to animator Nik Ranieri (who animated the opening scene), he provided Kuzco's sobbing in the opening in place of David Spade during the ADR process of the film.
Just about every song was cut from the movie, except for one, with another played over the end credits. They're still on the soundtrack, though. There's a whole documentary, The Sweatbox, about the film's troubled production (see Troubled Production below) which puts a great deal of focus on these songs (which were written by Sting).
The most notable of which was Yzma's Villain Song, "Snuff Out the Light", which, while a fantastic song, was actually a necessary cut, because the plot of the movie changed and made the motivation and ultimate goal described by the song irrelevant.
Descended Creator: Writer and director Mark Dindal has an uncredited role as Kitty Yzma.
The candle-holder in the dinner-scene depicts a character who got cut in the movie's overhaul.
Yzma was originally intended to be obsessed with youth. In the sequel, her scheme involves getting rich by selling (fake) youth potions.
Dueling Movies: Against two movies, nontheless: The Road to El Dorado from DreamWorks as well as Doraemon: Nobita and the Legend of the Sun King from Japan, all three of which take place in Mesoamerica. Disney themselves released Atlantis: The Lost Empire to go up against El Dorado. The Emperor's New Groove did win since it got better reviews and El Dorado bombed and sunk that franchise immediately. Legend of the Sun King as part of a wider franchise became the highest grossing film at $32 million, but obviously it pales in comparison to the $169 million The Emperor's New Groove got due to not being released outside of East Asia (since the series it's part of is unknown outside of the region).
The film started out as a Prince and Pauper movie called Kingdom of the Sun in 1994, described by Lion King co-director Roger Allers as an "epic picture mixing elements of adventure, comedy, romance and mysticism". It would have been in the traditional style of Aladdin and Beauty and the Beast. The plot would've involved a greedy, selfish emperor who finds a peasant who looks just like him, so the emperor swaps places with the peasant for fun. Meanwhile, the evil witch Yzma has plans to summon the evil god Supai and capture the sun so that she may retain her youth forever. Discovering the switch between the prince and the peasant, Yzma turns the emperor into a llama and threatens to reveal the pauper's identity unless he obeys her. The emperor learns An Aesop about humility, and ends up loving a llama herder named Mata. Together, she and the emperor set out to stop Yzma's evil plans. Sting was signed on as the song composer. Disney execs thought that due to the poor critical and commercial reception of Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, both of which were serious dramatic musicals in the vein of Kingdom of the Sun, the film would be unsuccessful. Compounding this was the fact that the release date had been firmly set at the year 2000, and by 1998 it was clear that production would not wrap up in time. Disney execs ordered production on Sun to be halted. Almost all the original plot points and characters were scrapped. Most of Sting's compositions were cut as well. The movie became transformed into a Looney Tunes-style slapstick buddy comedy. While the end result was warmly received by critics, who found it a breath of fresh air compared to most of Disney's fare, animator Andreas Deja, who supervised animation on Yzma during Sun, was displeased with what the film was reworked into, and left to work on Lilo & Stitch before the retool. Allers was also disappointed with the final film, calling it a "simple slapstick comedy", and saying that if he had had more time, he could've made the film according to his original visions.
On the DVD commentary, director Mark Dindal grumbles about a minor example, claiming an executive at Disney forced him to include a particular The Wizard of OzShout-Out.
Also, Composer Meddling: Sting, who was already annoyed about having to stay on a project for which he'd already exhausted all of the time he'd set aside, nearly left the project when he objected to the original ending where Kuzco spared Pacha's village, but still built his water park on the hill next to his. He wrote to the producers that this meant that Kuzco hadn't learned anything, not to mention went against his personal beliefs about the environment, to which they agreed and had the necessary changes made.
Irony as She Is Cast: When called upon to sing the theme song for Kuzco that he had written, Sting said that a then-50-year-old wouldn't do that song justice and that it was suited for someone younger and hipper. The filmmakers went with Tom Jones, who is ten years older than Sting.
The Other Darrin: For the brazilian dub of Kronk's New Groove, Peterson Adriano replaces Selton Mello as the voice of Kuzco, Mauro Ramos replaces Humberto Martins as the voice of Pacha and Geisa Vidal replaces Marieta Severo as the voice of Yzma. Peterson, Mauro and Geisa would later reprise the roles for the dub of The Emperor's New School, with Peterson later in the series being replaced by Marcos Souza as the voice of Kuzco.
This is one of the biggest perpetrators of these tropes in the Disney canon. Originally, it was going to be a more traditional Disney epic called Kingdom of the Sun, with a typical Prince and Pauper storyline. After a Writer Revolt, Executive Meddling, and a Retool (as the two directors were going in opposite directions, and the film had only a short span of two years to get completed), they scrapped the idea of doing a serious epic, and the resultant film was completed in an entirely different style at great expense and at the last minute. Several animators, such as Andreas Deja who wanted to work on "a great film," left in a huffnote He would end up flying down to Florida to work on Lilo & Stitch, as well as many other staff members who just left Disney entirely.
There's a rumor that, at one point, the production got so out of hand that Michael Eisner stormed into a story room, got in the director's face, held his thumb and forefinger an inch apart and yelled "You are THIS close to getting canceled!" before storming out.
Related to Troubled Production: Mrs. "Sting", Trudie Styler, filmed a (slightly unfinished) documentary on the film's production, The Sweatbox. It was screened once, but since Disney owns this document of chaos, they make sure it never gets released (very likely due to there being a large amount of swearing in it), though it was briefly leaked on the internet in March 2012. A review can be found here.
Related to What Could Have Been: Owen Wilson was originally cast as Pachanote who originally was designed to look like a twin of Kuzco... who, by the way, was called "Manco" in the original version. He recorded all his dialogue but when the film was retooled, his voice work was thrown out. There also used to be a short talking Incan statue sidekick to be voiced by Harvey Feinstein. Kronk was nowhere in the story. Yzma's original carnation was creepier, less neurotic, far more threatening, and obsessed with becoming young and beautiful again.
Marc Shaiman originally scored the film but had his work rejected after a test screening and was replaced by John Debney. Shaiman's work can be heard in The Sweatbox (the making-of documentary on the film and its Troubled Production). He describes his take as having too much Mickey Mousing.
Originally, Kuzco was going to have a love interest named Mata. For the finished film, the character was scrapped and her name was given to the waitress.
The movie as made was supposed to end with Kuzco building his mansion on a hill further away from Pacha's village and inviting Pacha and his family to stay in it, before Sting pointed out that if Kuzco still built his mansion after all his experiences he wouldn't really have learned anything.
Changing the typical Disney Renaissance-era epic into a screwball comedy was nothing but this. Disney's staff was sick of doing blockbuster musicals and fought for a smaller, more experimental film when Kingdom of The Sun was rejected. In turn, a number of the original team who weren't fired willingly left, believing that the retool would trivialize their work.
In the Mexican Spanish dub, Kuzco was originally planned to be dubbed by a soap opera actor (Arath de la Torre), and while he did finished the dub and was payed for it, it was never used because Walt Disney's Mexican branch didn't like his performance and, probably to avoid another sub-par performance with the main character just like they did with the dub of Hercules, he was replaced with Jesús Barrero, who originally only dubbed him in the trailers.
Write What You Know: When the gag of baby Kuzco was added to the beginning of the film, Nik Ranieri, his lead animator, begged the directors to let him animate it because of how much it reminded him of his two toddlers and newborn at home and wanted to apply his observation of them to animation. Every frame of that gag is based on his kids. The design was specifically based on his daughter Belinda.