The King and I
Theatrical release poster
Directed byRichard Rich
Screenplay by
Based on
Produced by
Starring
Edited by
  • Joe Campana
  • Paul Murphy
Music byWilliam Kidd
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros.[1]
Release date
  • March 19, 1999 (1999-03-19)
Running time
89 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States[1]
LanguageEnglish
Budget$25 million[3]
Box office$12 million[3]

The King and I is a 1999 American animated musical film directed by Richard Rich. It is, to date, the only animated feature film made by Morgan Creek Entertainment.[4] Loosely based on the 1956 film of the same name, it portrays a fictionalized account of English school teacher Anna Leonowens' historical encounter with the King of Siam Mongkut, and royal court. The voice cast stars Miranda Richardson and Martin Vidnovic as Leonowens and Mongkut, respectively, with Ian Richardson, Darrell Hammond, and Adam Wylie. The score, songs, and some of the character names come from Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II's 1951 stage musical of the same name.[5] Screenwriters Peter Bakalian, Jacqueline Feather, and David Seidler took creative liberties with the history and with the source material from the musical in an attempt to make the film palatable to all audiences.

The King and I was released on March 19, 1999, eight months prior to Anna and the King, a live-action adaptation of the same story. The critical consensus on Rotten Tomatoes calls it "charmless and shoddily animated." The King and I earned $12 million at the box office[3] and its gross was seen as disappointing compared to that of other animated films released at the time. The film received five nominations including the London Critics Circle Film Award for British Actress of the Year for Richarson and the Golden Reel Award for Best Sound Editing in Animated Feature.

Aside from foreign films, TV shows, and direct-to-video films, The King and I was the final mainstream theatrical film to officially be released under the Warner Bros. Family Entertainment banner. Warner Bros. has since released theatrical family films under their standard Warner Bros. Pictures banner.

Plot

In 1862, a ship sails from London to Bangkok, on board are Anna Leonowens and her son Louis. Kralahome, Prime Minister, uses his powers of illusion to cause it to appear as if a massive sea serpent is attacking the ship as it's battered in a storm. Anna, with the help of Captain Orton, manage to save Louis from drowning. As they approach Bangkok, the captain explains to Anna how the kingdom is politically structured.

In the Grand Palace, in Siam, Anna witnesses King Mongkut receive a gift in the form of a slave, Tuptim, a young woman from Burma. Despite being promised her own house outside the palace, Anna is denied it. The King drags Anna to his workshop in which he tests new inventions such as hot air balloons and trains. Louis is taken on a tour of the armory by the Kralahome's henchman, Master Little, who barely misses an injury. In the palace gardens, Prince Chulalongkorn meets Tuptim and they fall in love, but Chulalongkorn keeps his true identity hidden. The King's wives help Anna unpack and Anna sees Chulalongkorn and Tuptim in the courtyard and supports their relationship. Anna wants to leave since she will not receive the house, but changes her mind after she meets the royal children, especially Chulalongkorn.

With the Kralahome still plotting to overthrow the king, he writes a letter to the British Empire that claims that Anna is in danger. Anna begins to teach the children and learns that they never been outside the palace walls. To give the hands-on experience, she takes all of the royal children around the city to see how other people live, which, in turn, angers the King. The Kralahome reports it from Master Little, who tells him of seeing the outing. It boils over into a fight, with Anna still complaining about the house that she was promised but has yet to receive.

Chulalongkorn meets with his father to discuss traditions. He wants to be with Tuptim but knows that his father would never allow it. Confused, Mongkut goes to pray to Buddha. The Kralahome then uses his powers on the statues in the room to try and attack the king, which the king's black panther, Rama, fights off. When Chulalongkorn is kickboxing, Tuptim finally learns that he is the crown prince and that their love is forbidden. However, he tells her that he does not care about tradition and wants to be with her. Master Little learns of their relationship and tells the Kralahome, who plans to use it to anger the King at the right time.

Anna goes to the King to learn that he is troubled after he learned that the British are coming because he is allegedly a barbarian, which she knows is false. Anna advises the King to throw a banquet for the British when they arrive so that he can show that he is civilized. At the dinner, the Kralahome mentions the royal ivory pendant that the King is supposed to wear, which he gave to his son, who then gave it to Tuptim. When it is revealed that Chulalongkorn gave it away, Tuptim is brought in by guards. Dishonored by the relationship, the King threatens to whip Tuptim to death, but finds that he can't do it; she and Chulalongkorn later escape into the jungle with Louis.

While they escape, the Kralahome uses his powers to guide them through the jungle across a rope bridge. The bridge collapses, and Tuptim and Chulalongkorn are almost swept away by a river. The King, having had a change of heart and using one of his hot air balloons, rescues them with Louis's help in distracting Master Little's interference. However, on their journey back to the palace, the Kralahome fires a firework, destroys the balloon, and causes it to crash. Everyone but the King is able to jump into a lake to safety. The Kralahome celebrates his apparent victory of killing the King, but ends up exposing his true nature in front of Sir Edward and the royal guards.

An injured, bedridden King tells his son to be ready to lead Siam if he dies and allows him and Tuptim to be married and becoming king and queen. With his evil schemes of overthrowing the King exposed, the Kralahome loses his position, and as a punishment, he is forced to clean the elephant stables, with Master Little as his boss (who now loses all his teeth and attacks him). The King heals from his injury and presents Anna with her house outside the palace walls, and the two of them dance.

Voice cast

Production

Development

After the success of Walt Disney Animation Studios' The Little Mermaid in 1989 Warner Bros. began to seek out animated films to distribute, which led to them releasing The Nutcracker Prince and Rover Dangerfield, in 1990 and 1991, respectively. But it wasn't until the success of Disney's The Lion King, and all Hollywood studios began looking at getting into the animation field that the company began to develop animated feature films internally. In 1991 Morgan Creek Entertainment began a production and distribution deal with Warner Bros. In 1993 the company established Warner Bros. Feature Animation led by Max Howard to produce their own animated films while still distributing third party animated films. Warner Bros. distributed Thumbelina, and New Line Cinema distributed The Swan Princess in 1994, before releasing their first internally created feature film Space Jam in 1996. With the film a financial success, the next film was quickly underway Quest for Camelot. Arthur Rankin Jr. the head of Rankin/Bass Productions, who had been brought in to co-produce the film, was able to convince the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization who is in charge of the rights to their works that an animated feature film "would be a superb way" to expand the property.[6]

Writing

Prior to the theatrical release of the Quest for Camelot it's writers David Seidler and Jacqueline Feather were contracted to adapt The King and I for Morgan Creek, to be released under the Warner Bros. Family Entertainment label. In 1998 it was revealed the plot had been "slightly altered" from the original musical "in the interest of family viewing."[7] But no change could be made without approval by the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization, it was known that the family friendly changes would be a risk, but they hoped the film would "introduce a generation of younger people to the show, earlier than they might have been under normal circumstances" according to R&H President at the time Ted Chapin.[6]

Design and animation

Each of the characters in the film were designed by a team of animators consisting of Bronwen Barry, Elena Kravets, and Michael Coppieters. The final design of each character had to receive final approval from James G. Robinson, the head of Morgan Creek Entertainment. Over one thousand animators were hired in over 24 countries across four different continents to hand draw each second of the film.[8] Patrick Gleeson and Colm Duggan served as the supervising animators for domestic production, while additional animation was outsourced to Giant Productions, Canuck Creations, Partners in Production, Manigates Animacion, and Stardust Pictures. Clean-up animation was contracted to Hanho Heung-Up in Seoul, South Korea.

Music

A soundtrack album was released on March 16, 1999 by Sony Classical Records.[9] It was released on both CD and cassette formats.[10] Many songs from the original musical are performed in this film. All the songs on the album were originally composed by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. The Philharmonia Orchestra covers the instrumental score.[11]

William Ruhlmann of Allmusic.com gave the album a rating of 3 stars out of 5, describing it as a "surprisingly adequate" soundtrack to a "badly received" film. He adds, however, that the "overly effusive vocal performances" and "overly busy arrangements" make it "by far the worst version of this music ever recorded", and cites the use of "nine different orchestrators" as a possible factor. He concludes by conceding that there is good singing on the album.[12] John Kenrick in his article Comparative CD Reviews Part III, describes the 1999 recording as a "total disgrace" that sees "superb Broadway singers...labor against mindless cuts and gooey orchestrations".[13] In a relatively negative review of the animated adaption, The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia does say that "some of the songs survive nicely, and the singing vocals throughout are very proficient".[14]

Songs

No.TitlePerformer(s)Length
1."Getting to Know You"Christiane Noll & Chorus 
2."A Puzzlement"Martin Vidnovic 
3."I Whistle a Happy Tune"Christiane Noll, Adam Wylie & Chorus 
4."Hello, Young Lovers"Christiane Noll 
5."I Have Dreamed"David Burnham & Tracy Venner Warren 
6."Shall I Tell You What I Think of You?"Christiane Noll 
7."Shall We Dance Fantasy"Christiane Noll 
8."Shall We Dance? (Finale)"Christiane Noll & Martin Vidnovic 

Release

Theatrical run

The film debuted Friday, March 19, 1999, in 2,352 theaters, grossing $4 million in its opening weekend - number six at the box office behind two other Warner Bros. films, Analyze This, and True Crime.[15] The King and I played for 228 days in theaters, about 41 weeks.[16]

As with most film adaptations of Anna and the King of Siam, the film is banned in Thailand.

Home media

Despite the underwhelming box office performance of the film, upon the home media release the film July 6, 1999 on DVD and VHS by Warner Home Video, it stayed in the top 20 of Billboards Top Kid Video Chart for over 15 weeks.[17] Leading to The King and I going on to be the 16th best-selling children's video tape of 1999.[18] The King and I was available on Amazon Prime when the streaming service premiered on August 1, 2011. The film was listed on iTunes for digital sale in 2010.

Mill Creek Entertainment released the Blu-ray/digital combo pack of the film on October 6, 2020.[19]

Reception

Box office

The King and I was a box office bomb. It took in $4,007,565 in its opening weekend, taking the #6 spot at the box office, but only managed to gross just under $12 million at the box office, and was overshadowed by the release of Doug's 1st Movie, which was released the following week.[3]

Critical reception

On Rotten Tomatoes, The King and I has an approval rating of 13% based on 24 reviews and an average rating of 3.51/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Charmless and shoddily animated, The King and I pales in comparison to its classic namesake in every way."[20] Historian Thomas Hischak wrote that it was "surprising to think that the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organization allowed it to be made ... children have enjoyed The King and I for five decades without relying on dancing dragons".[21] Hischak, in his work The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television, says the film is "easily the worst treatment of any Rodgers and Hammerstein property".[22] The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia says "whether or not one agrees about the 1956 film of The King and I being the best R&H movie, most would concede that [the] animated adaption is the worst". Roger Ebert gave it 2 stars out of 4 and felt that animated adaptations of musicals have potential but found the film rather dull.

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c "The King & I (1999)". AFI Catalog of Feature Films. Retrieved March 31, 2021.
  2. ^ "The King and I (U)". British Board of Film Classification. April 15, 1999. Retrieved April 1, 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d "The King and I (1999)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  4. ^ "The man behind Morgan Creek". The Baltimore Sun. March 21, 1999. Archived from the original on November 12, 2019. Retrieved November 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Lenburg, Jeff (2009). The Encyclopedia of Animated Cartoons (3rd ed.). New York: Checkmark Books. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-8160-6600-1.
  6. ^ a b Jones, Kenneth (March 18, 1999). "Shall We Kickbox? Animated 'King and I' Opens at Movie Theatres March 19". Archived from the original on November 12, 2019.
  7. ^ Simonson, Robert (May 4, 1998). "Plot Changes Planned for Animated The King and I Film". Archived from the original on November 12, 2019.
  8. ^ Making The King and I bonus feature (DVD). Warner Home Video. 1999.
  9. ^ Artists, Various. "The King and I – Original Animated Feature Soundtrack [Music Download]: Various Artists". Christianbook.com. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  10. ^ "The King and I [Original Animated Feature Soundtrack] – 1999 Soundtrack : Releases". AllMusic. March 16, 1999. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  11. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "1999 Soundtrack: The King and I", Allmusic.com, accessed December 24, 2012
  12. ^ Ruhlmann, William (March 16, 1999). "The King and I [Original Animated Feature Soundtrack] – 1999 Soundtrack : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  13. ^ "Comparative CD reviews – 3". Musicals101.com. Retrieved March 23, 2013.
  14. ^ Hischak, Thomas S (June 30, 2007). The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia. ISBN 9780313341403.
  15. ^ "Domestic 1999 Weekend 12". Box Office Mojo.
  16. ^ "The King and I Domestic". Box Office Mojo.
  17. ^ McCormick, Moria (November 13, 1999). "Top Kid Video". Billboard. Retrieved November 11, 2019.
  18. ^ McCormick, Moria (December 25, 1999). "'Simba's Pride,' Buena Vista Rule Kid Vid Chart For '99". Retrieved November 11, 2019. ((cite magazine)): Cite magazine requires |magazine= (help)
  19. ^ "Upcoming Mill Creek Entertainment Blu-ray Releases". Blu-ray.com. June 9, 2020. Retrieved June 10, 2020.
  20. ^ "The King and I (1999)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 27, 2013.
  21. ^ Hischak, Thomas S. The Rodgers and Hammerstein Encyclopedia. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Publishing Group, 2007, p. 151 ISBN 978-0-313-34140-3
  22. ^ Hischak, Thomas S (June 2, 2008). The Oxford Companion to the American Musical: Theatre, Film, and Television. ISBN 9780195335330.