The Road to El Dorado

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The Road to El Dorado
Road to el dorado ver3.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Don Paul
Eric "Bibo" Bergeron
Additional Sequences:
Will Finn
David Silverman
Produced by Brook Breton
Bonne Radford
Screenplay by Ted Elliott
Terry Rossio
Starring Kevin Kline
Kenneth Branagh
Armand Assante
Jim Cummings
Edward James Olmos
Tobin Bell
Rosie Perez
Narrated by Elton John
Music by Hans Zimmer
John Powell
Elton John
Tim Rice (lyrics)
Edited by John Carnochan
Dan Molina
Vicki Hiatt
Lynne Southerland
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures1
Release dates
  • March 31, 2000 (2000-03-31)
Running time
89 minutes[3]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $95 million
Box office $76.4 million

The Road to El Dorado is a 2000 American animated adventure buddy slapstick comedy film directed by Eric "Bibo" Bergeron and Don Paul, with additional sequences by Will Finn and David Silverman, starring Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, and Rosie Pérez, and produced by DreamWorks Animation. The soundtrack features songs by Elton John and Tim Rice, as well as composer Hans Zimmer.

The movie begins in 16th-century Seville, Spain, and tells of two men named Tulio and Miguel who, when playing dice, win a map that supposedly shows the location of El Dorado, the legendary city of gold in the New World. However, when it is discovered that they are using loaded dice they attempt to escape, only to end up as stowaways on Hernán Cortés' fleet to conquer Mexico. They are discovered, but manage to escape in a boat with Cortés' prize war horse and eventually discover the hidden city of El Dorado, where they are mistaken for gods. The film received mixed reviews from critics and was a box office bomb.


In Spain 1519, two con artists, Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Branagh), win a map to the legendary City of Gold, El Dorado, in a rigged gambling match. After their con is discovered, the two evade capture while being chased by a bull and hide in barrels, which are shortly loaded onto one of the ships to be led by Hernán Cortés (Jim Cummings) to the New World. During the trip, they are caught as stowaways and imprisoned, but manage to break free and take a rowboat with the help of Cortés' horse, Altivo (Frank Welker).

Later, they land at an unknown shore at the edge of Mexico, and Miguel begins to recognize landmarks as stated on the map, which shows directions to El Dorado. The map leads them to a totem marker outside of a waterfall where a young woman approaches them, chased by a number of guards. The guards see the image of Tulio and Miguel riding Altivo as the same on the totem, and believing them to be gods, escort them and the woman under the falls and into Eldardo, the city of Gold, located on the other side.

Tulio and Miguel are brought to the city's elders, the kind-hearted Chief Tannabok (Edward James Olmos) and wicked high priest Tzekel-Kan (Armand Assante). While Tannabok warmly welcomes them to the city, Tzekel-Kan mainly sees them as a way to enhance his own standing. Tzekel-Kan also believes that with the arrival of the gods comes "The Year of the Jaguar", a year in which the city will be purged of all wicked people. Tulio and Miguel begin to argue on what to do. Everyone is convinced they are gods when as a volcano is beginning to erupt, Tulio yells at Miguel to stop pestering him, and the volcano suddenly stops. After celebrations offered by both Tannabok and Tzekel-Kan, the two are taken to private quarters along with the woman they met earlier, Chel (Rosie Perez), who has seen through their ploy but offers to help maintain it as long as they give her a share of the gold and take her with them when they leave. Tulio tells Tannabok the next day that they are only here for a visit, but will need a boat to leave the city with the gifts the city has showered upon them.

Tannabok says it will take them at least three days to construct a vessel to carry both them and the gifts given to them by the people of El Dorado. Chel encourages Miguel to continue to explore the city while she tries to get close to Tulio. Miguel begins to bond with the people and falls in love with the city. When Tzekel-Kan sees Miguel playing a ball game with children, he demands that the gods play against Chief Tannabok's warriors, the city's best players. During the match, Tulio and Miguel are clearly over-matched, but Chel replaces the ball with an armadillo named Bibo, allowing the two to cheat and win the game. However, when Tzekel-Kan offers to have the defeated players sacrificed, Miguel declares there is no need for sacrifices or Tzekel-Kan.

As he is leaving, Tzekel-Kan sees a small cut on Miguel's forehead and realizes he is not a god because gods do not bleed. Tzekel-Kan conjures a giant stone jaguar to chase them through the city. Tulio and Miguel manage to outwit the stone jaguar, causing both it and Tzekel-Kan to fall into a giant whirlpool, thought to be the entrance to Xibalba, the spirit world. Tzekel-Kan comes to outside El Dorado, where Cortés and his men are searching for gold. Thinking Cortés is a true god, Tzekel-Kan quickly offers to lead them to El Dorado. With their boat completed and loaded with gold, Tulio is ready to leave but Miguel announces that he will be staying because he finds the city peaceful. As Tulio and Chel start to leave, they spot smoke on the horizon, realizing that Cortés and his men are approaching the city with the help from Tzekel-Kan. To protect the city from the Spanish troops, Tulio determines they can use the boat to slam against rock formations under the waterfall path that will cave in and block access to the city.

The city residents pull down a large statue to create a wave to propel the boat, but Tulio cannot get the sails up to give the boat enough speed to avoid the statue. Miguel forgoes his chance to stay in the city and jumps into the boat with Altivo to finish hoisting the sails. The boat clears the statue in time, and Tulio's plan is successful; though the boat and the gold are lost, the entrance to El Dorado is sealed for good. Tulio, Miguel, Chel and Altivo hide as Tzekel-Kan brings Cortés and his men towards the waterfall. Once Tzekel-Kan finds out that the entrance has been blocked, an angry Cortés takes this as a lie. Cortés and his men then march away with a humiliated Tzekel-Kan in their hands. Tulio and Miguel, though disappointed they lost their treasure, takes off in a different direction for a new adventure with Chel, unaware that Altivo still wears the golden horseshoes he was outfitted with in the city.


  • Kevin Kline as Tulio, one of the con artists who pretend to be gods so they can get gold. He is the planner who wanted to leave El Dorado with the treasure.
  • Kenneth Branagh as Miguel, one of the con artists who pretend to be gods so they can get gold. He is the fun-loving one who wants to stay in El Dorado.
  • Rosie Perez as Chel, a young native from El Dorado who discovers Tulio and Miguel's con and decides to play along.
  • Jim Cummings as Hernán Cortés, the merciless and ambitious leader of the expedition to find the empires of the New World.
  • Armand Assante as Tzekel-Kan, the fanatically vicious high priest who has a religious fixation for human sacrifices.
  • Edward James Olmos as Chief Tannabok, the kind chief of El Dorado who welcomes Tulio and Miguel.
  • Tobin Bell as Zaragoza, a sailor on the voyage to the new world of El Dorado and the original owner of the map, which he loses to Tulio and Miguel when gambling with them. Tulio nicknames him Pee Wee.
  • Frank Welker as Altivo, Cortés' horse who ends up teaming up with Tulio and Miguel.


Under the working title El Dorado: City of Gold,[4][5] the film was originally scheduled for release in fall of 1999.[6] During production, the filmmakers drew much inspiration for the characters of Miguel and Tulio from those of the Bob Hope and Bing Crosby Road to... films. "The buddy relationship [between the duo] is the very heart of the story. They need each other because they're both pretty inept. They're opposites — Tulio is the schemer and Miguel is the dreamer. Their camaraderie adds to the adventure; you almost don't need to know where they're going or what they're after, because the fun is in the journey", remarked one of the film's producers, Bonne Radford. Unusually for an animated film, both Kline and Branagh recorded their lines in the same studio room together, in order for the two to achieve more realistic chemistry. This proved difficult for the audio team.[7]

In late 1996, Tim Rice and Elton John were asked to compose seven songs, which they immediately worked on. In February 1999, before the release of Elton John and Tim Rice's Aida, it was announced that ten songs had been composed for El Dorado. It was also announced that the release date had been pushed to March 2000.[4]

The creation of the film was a challenge for the studio because DreamWorks Animation had devoted most of its creative efforts to its previous animated film, The Prince of Egypt.


Critical reception[edit]

The film received mixed reviews from critics; it holds a 48% "rotten" rating out of 104 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, with 50 positive reviews, making this the first DreamWorks animated film to earn a "rotten" rating; the consensus states: "Predictable story and thin characters made the movie flat."[8] Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 top reviews from mainstream critics, calculated a score of 51 based on 29 reviews, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9]

Paul Clinton of CNN wrote, "The animation is uninspiring and brings nothing new to the table of animation magic," praising the Elton John/Tim Rice songs, but noting the weak plot.[10]

In contrast, Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a thumbs up and commented that it was "bright and zesty," having enjoyed it as a simple comedic farce,[11] while Joel Siegel, on Good Morning America, called it "solid gold," claiming the film was "paved with laughs."[citation needed]

Box office[edit]

The film earned $12,846,652 on opening weekend at #2, behind previous year's Erin Brockovich‍ '​s third weekend.[12] The film closed on April 29, 2001, after earning $50,863,742 in the United States and Canada and $25,568,985 overseas for a worldwide total of $76,432,727. Based on its total gross, The Road to El Dorado was a box office bomb, unable to recoup its $95 million budget.[13]


Award Category Winner/Nominee Recipient(s) Result
Annie Awards[14] Animated Theatrical Feature Nominated
Individual Achievement in Storyboarding Jeff Snow (Story supervisor) Nominated
Individual Achievement in Production Design Christian Schellewald (Production Designer) Nominated
Individual Achievement in Character Animation David Brewster (Senior Supervising animator - Miguel) Nominated
Individual Achievement in Character Animation Rodolphe Guendonen (Supervising Animator - Chel) Nominated
Individual Achievement in Effects Animation Doug Ikeler (Effects Lead - Crashing the Gate) Nominated
Individual Achievement in Voice Acting Armand Assante ("Tzekel-Kan") Nominated
Individual Achievement in Music Hans Zimmer (Music)
John Powell (Music)
Critics' Choice Awards[15] Best Composer Hans Zimmer Won

Video game[edit]

The video game tie-in, released on PlayStation, Game Boy Color, and PC, was named Gold & Glory: The Road to El Dorado. It was developed by Planet Interactive for Game Boy Color and Revolution Software for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation.[16]

Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado received mixed reviews. Aggregating review website GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PC version 60.40%,[17] the Game Boy Color version 59.20%[18] and the PlayStation version 51.89% and 34/100.[19][20]

Home media[edit]

The Road to El Dorado was released on DVD and VHS on December 12, 2000.[21]


The Road to El Dorado
Soundtrack album by Elton John
Released March 14, 2000
Genre Rock, pop
Length 62:14
Label DreamWorks Records
Producer Patrick Leonard
Elton John chronology
The Muse (1999) The Road to El Dorado
Elton John One Night Only – The Greatest Hits (2000)
Singles from The Road to El Dorado
  1. "Someday Out of the Blue (Theme from El Dorado)"
    Released: 2000
  2. "Friends Never Say Goodbye"
    Released: 2000

The Road to El Dorado is an album released by singer Elton John to accompany the DreamWorks animated motion picture The Road to El Dorado. The songs were composed mainly by John with lyricist Tim Rice, with score contributions by Hans Zimmer and John Powell. John, Rice and Zimmer had previously collaborated on the soundtrack to The Lion King, another animated movie. Zimmer had also previously composed the music score to The Prince of Egypt.

In some instances (such as "The Trail We Blaze"), the songs have been altered musically and vocally from the way they appeared in the film. A "Cast & Crew Special Edition" recording of the soundtrack exists, but was never released to the public. It includes the theatrical versions of the songs, including "It's Tough to be a God" recorded by Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh, and several of the score tracks by Hans Zimmer.

Backstreet Boys provided backing vocals on "Friends Never Say Goodbye",[22] but were uncredited due to record label problems.[citation needed] The group is "thanked" by John following the credits in the CD booklet. Eagles members Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit are credited as background vocalists on the song "Without Question".

Track listing[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "El Dorado"   Elton John, Tim Rice 4:22
2. "Someday Out of the Blue (Theme from El Dorado)"   Elton John, Patrick Leonard, Tim Rice 4:48
3. "Without Question" (featuring Don Henley and Timothy B. Schmit) Elton John, Tim Rice 4:47
4. "Friends Never Say Goodbye" (featuring Backstreet Boys) Elton John, Tim Rice 4:21
5. "The Trail We Blaze"   Elton John, Tim Rice 3:54
6. "16th Century Man"   Elton John, Tim Rice 3:40
7. "The Panic in Me"   Elton John, Hans Zimmer, Tim Rice 5:40
8. "It's Tough to Be a God" (Duet with Randy Newman) Elton John, Tim Rice 3:50
9. "Trust Me"   Elton John, Tim Rice 4:46
10. "My Heart Dances"   Elton John, Tim Rice 4:51
11. "Queen of Cities (El Dorado II)"   Elton John, Tim Rice 3:56
12. "Cheldorado" (Performed by Hans Zimmer with Heitor Pereira) Hans Zimmer 4:26
13. "The Brig" (Performed by Hans Zimmer with Trilogy) Hans Zimmer 2:58
14. "Wonders of the New World" (Performed by Hans Zimmer) John Powell 5:56


  1. ^ In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation and transferred to 20th Century Fox.[23]


  1. ^ Munoz, Lorenza (March 29, 2000). "Bumpy Road to 'El Dorado'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 1, 2014. 
  2. ^ "The Road to El Dorado (2000)". British Film Institute. Retrieved November 5, 2015. 
  3. ^ McCarthy, Todd (April 3, 2000). "Review: ‘The Road to El Dorado’". Variety. Retrieved May 27, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b "The Road to El Dorado". Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  5. ^ Fabrikant, Geraldine (January 20, 1997). "Despite a Sluggish Beginning, Dreamworks Is Viewed as a Potential Hollywood Power". The New York Times. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  6. ^ Aleiss, Angela (January 24, 1999). "Animated Features of a Different Hue". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved June 24, 2014. The movie features the voices of Edward James Olmos, Armand Assante and Rosie Perez and is tentatively scheduled for a fall release. 
  7. ^ "The Road to El Dorado". DreamWorks. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  8. ^ The Road to El Dorado at Rotten Tomatoes
  9. ^ "The Road to El Dorado". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 19, 2014. 
  10. ^ Clinton, Paul (April 3, 2000). "Review: Little gold in this 'El Dorado'". CNN. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (March 31, 2000). "The Road To El Dorado". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 12, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for March 31-April 2, 2000". Box Office Mojo. 2000-04-03. Retrieved 2012-02-04. 
  13. ^ The Road to El Dorado at Box Office Mojo
  14. ^ "Legacy: 28th Annual Annie Award Nominees and Winners (2000)". The Annie Awards. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  15. ^ Armstrong, Mark (December 19, 2000). "Broadcast Critics Eat Crowe". E! Online UK. Retrieved January 4, 2014. 
  16. ^ "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado". Gamespot. Retrieved October 13, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  18. ^ "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado for Game Boy Color". GameRankings. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  19. ^ "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado for PlayStation". GameRankings. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  20. ^ "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado for PlayStation Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 14 November 2013. 
  21. ^ DeMott, Rick (December 13, 2000). "The Road To El Dorado Leads To Home Video". Animation World Network. Retrieved November 14, 2013. 
  22. ^ "The Road to El Dorado". Retrieved November 18, 2011. 
  23. ^ Chney, Alexandra (July 29, 2014). "DreamWorks Animation Q2 Earnings Fall Short of Estimates, SEC Investigation Revealed". Variety. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 

External links[edit]