The Road to El Dorado

The Road to El Dorado

Theatrical release poster
Directed by
Produced by
  • Brook Breton
  • Bonne Radford
Screenplay by
Narrated by Elton John
Music by
Edited by
Distributed by DreamWorks Pictures1
Release dates
  • March 31, 2000 (2000-03-31)
Running time
89 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $95 million
Box office $76.4 million

The Road to El Dorado is a 2000 American animated adventure 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 composers Hans Zimmer and John Powell.

The movie begins in 16th-century Spain, and tells of two swindlers 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 they are caught using loaded dice, the attempt to escape, only has them to end up as stowaways on Hernán Cortés' fleet to conquer Mexico. They are found out, 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 Road to El Dorado received mixed reviews from critics and grossed $76.4 million worldwide on a $95 million budget, becoming DreamWorks Animation's first box office bomb. However, the film has managed to gain a "cult classic" status online over the years.[2]


In Spain 1519, two con artists, Tulio and Miguel, 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 and hide aboard one of the ships to be led by Hernán Cortés 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.

Later, they land on an unknown shore at the edge of Mexico, and Miguel begins to recognize landmarks from the map, leading them to a totem marker near a large waterfall. Believing it to be a dead end, they suddenly encounter a native woman being chased by guards; when the guards see Tulio and Miguel riding Altivo as depicted on the totem, they escort them to a secret entrance behind the falls, along with the woman, and into a city truly made of gold, El Dorado. They are brought to the city's elders, kind-hearted Chief Tannabok and wicked high priest Tzekel-Kan. Tzekel-Kan, seeking to seize the city from Tannabok, insists that the two, mistaken as gods, demonstrate their powers. Tulio and Miguel bicker between themselves, while a nearby volcano begins to erupt. When Tulio yells at Miguel to stop pestering him, the volcano suddenly stops erupting, and the citizens take this as proof of their godhood. Celebrations are held, and the pair are given luxurious quarters to stay, along with charge of the woman, Chel. Chel is aware the two are conning the people but promises to remain quiet if they take her with them when they leave the city. The two are showered with gifts of gold from Tannabok, but disapproves Tzekel-Kan in sacrificing a civilian as the gods' ritual.

Tulio convinces Tannabok to build them a vessel that will allow them to leave the city with all the gifts they've been given, which will take three days. Miguel explores the city, allowing Chel to get romantically close to Tulio. Miguel comes to appreciate the peaceful life that the citizens seem to enjoy, and joins in with some of their activities. When Tzekel-Kan sees Miguel playing a ball game with children, he insists that the gods demonstrate their powers against the city's best players in the same game. Tulio and Miguel are far outmatched, but Chel is able to substitute the ball with an armadillo named Bibo, allowing them to win; Miguel spares the ritual of sacrificing the other team, much to the crowd's approval. During the match, Tzekel-Kan sees Miguel receive a small cut and realizes the two are not gods, because gods don't bleed. Tzekel-Kan conjures a giant stone behemoth to chase them through the city. As Tulio and Miguel argue over their differences, they manage to outwit the behemoth, causing both it and Tzekel-Kan to fall into a giant whirlpool, thought to be the entrance to Xibalba. When Tzekel-Kan comes to, he finds himself facing Cortés and his men; thinking Cortés is a god, he offers to lead them to El Dorado.

With the boat completed, Miguel states his intention to stay in the city. Tulio and Chel board the boat, loaded with the gifts, when they see smoke on the horizon and realize Cortés is close. Tulio concocts a plan to use the boat to ram pillars under the waterfall to cave-in the main entrance to El Dorado, but this requires the citizens to pull over a statue in the boat's wake to give it enough speed to ram the pillars. As the statue starts to fall too quickly, Tulio has difficulty in preparing the boat's sails. Miguel, giving up on staying in the city, rides Altivo then jumps onto the boat to unfurl the sails, assuring the boat clears the statue in time. Tulio's plan works, though the boat and their gifts are lost. Tulio, Miguel, Chel, and Altivo end up near the totem and hide as Cortés' men and Tzekel-Kan arrive. When Tzekel-Kan finds the entrance blocked, Cortés accuses him as a liar, and Tzekel-kan is taken prisoner as they leave. Tulio and Miguel, though disappointed they lost their treasure, take 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.

Voice Cast


Under the working title El Dorado: City of Gold,[3][4] the film was originally scheduled for release in fall of 1999.[5] 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, Kline and Branagh recorded their lines in the same studio room together, in order for the two to achieve more realistic chemistry. This resulted in a good deal of improvised dialogue, some of which ended up in the film.[6] However, it also made work more difficult for the audio team.

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.[3]

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

The film holds a 48% 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."[7] 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".[8]

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.[9]

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,[10] while Joel Siegel, on Good Morning America, called it "solid gold," claiming the film was "paved with laughs."

Box office

The film earned $12,846,652 on opening weekend at #2, behind Erin Brockovich's third weekend.[11] The film closed on June 29, 2000, 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.[12]

Home media

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


The Road to El Dorado
Soundtrack album by Elton John
Released March 14, 2000
Recorded 1998-99
Genre Rock, pop
Length 62:14
Label DreamWorks Records
Producer Patrick Leonard, Hans Zimmer, Gavin Greenaway
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",[16] but were uncredited due to record label problems. 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

No. TitleWriter(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, Tim Rice, Hans Zimmer 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" (with Heitor Pereira)Hans Zimmer 4:26
13. "The Brig" (with Triology)Hans Zimmer 2:58
14. "Wonders of the New World (To Shibalba / Save El Dorado / The Ball Game)"  John Powell 5:56

Video game

Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado was the video game tie-in, released on PlayStation, Game Boy Color, and PC on Microsoft Windows.[17]

Game Version Released Developed by Published by Licensed by
Game Boy Color April 30, 2000 Planet Interactive Ubisoft, Light & Shadow Production Nintendo
PlayStation November 16, 2000 Light & Shadow Production Ubisoft Sony
PC Dec 28, 2000 Revolution Software Ubisoft

The PlayStation & PC version of the game is drastically different to the Game Boy Color version. The main difference between the two games is that the PlayStation & PC version is a 3D adventure game with similarities to Resident Evil, while the Game Boy Color version is a more traditional 2D side-scrolling platformer.[17]

Versions of the game were intended to be released for the PlayStation 2 and Dreamcast, but were eventually cancelled.[18][19]

Review scores
Adventure GamersN/A[20]N/A
Game Informer4.5/10[23]N/A1/10[24]
Game RevolutionN/AN/AC−[25]
Nintendo Power7.3/10[31]N/AN/A
OPM (US)N/AN/A[32]
Aggregate scores

The PlayStation version received "unfavorable" reviews according to the review aggregation website Metacritic.[36]

Game Boy Color version

This version of the game is an 8-bit 2D side-scrolling platformer, where the player takes control of either Tulio or Miguel. The main objective in the first part of the game is to find nine separate map pieces that will eventually lead to the lost city of El Dorado. The player explores many settings in each different level such as a Spanish town, a ship, jungles, caves or the city of El Dorado. During the gameplay, there are two choices for weapons, a sword, the close range option, or bags, which can be thrown at enemies from a distance. Throughout each level, there are many bags which can be picked up, and replenish the "ammunition" count of the player. While moving through the different settings, you must fight off animals, plants, human enemies, or evading natural dangers. Inside each level there are many things to collect such as extra lives, or coins, which help boost your score.


  1. ^ In July 2014, the film's distribution rights were purchased by DreamWorks Animation.[37]


  1. McCarthy, Todd (April 3, 2000). "Review: 'The Road to El Dorado'". Variety. Retrieved May 27, 2015.
  3. 1 2 "The Road to El Dorado". Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Barbara and Scott Siegel (March 29, 2000). "Theater News: Kevin Kline & Kenneth Branagh".
  7. The Road to El Dorado at Rotten Tomatoes
  8. "The Road to El Dorado". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved January 19, 2014.
  9. Clinton, Paul (April 3, 2000). "Review: Little gold in this 'El Dorado'". CNN. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  10. Ebert, Roger (March 31, 2000). "The Road To El Dorado". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved February 12, 2013.
  11. "Weekend Box Office Results for March 31-April 2, 2000". Box Office Mojo. 2000-04-03. Retrieved 2012-02-04.
  12. The Road to El Dorado at Box Office Mojo
  13. DeMott, Rick (December 13, 2000). "The Road To El Dorado Leads To Home Video". Animation World Network. Retrieved November 14, 2013.
  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. "The Road to El Dorado". Retrieved November 18, 2011.
  17. 1 2 "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado". Gamespot. Retrieved October 13, 2012.
  18. "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado (Dreamcast)". IGN. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  19. "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado (PlayStation 2)". IGN. Retrieved 2016-01-23.
  20. Lacey, Robert (3 October 2008). "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado". Adventure Gamers. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  21. Woods, Nick. "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado (GBC) - Review". AllGame. Archived from the original on 13 November 2014. Retrieved 13 December 2014.
  22. "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado (PS)". Electronic Gaming Monthly. March 2001. Archived from the original on 9 March 2001. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  23. "[Gold and Glory: The] Road to El Dorado (GBC)". Game Informer (89). September 2000.
  24. Reiner, Andrew (February 2001). "[Gold and Glory:] The Road to El Dorado (PS)". Game Informer (94). Archived from the original on 7 August 2009. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  25. Sanders, Shawn (February 2001). "Gold & Glory: The Road to El Dorado Review (PS)". Game Revolution. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  26. Provo, Frank (25 May 2000). "The Road to El Dorado Review (GBC)". GameSpot. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  27. Villoria, Gerald (24 January 2001). "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado Review (PS)". GameSpot. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  28. Nix, Marc (21 June 2000). "Road to El Dorado Review (GBC)". IGN. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  29. Peterson, Erik (30 January 2001). "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado (PC)". IGN. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  30. Zdyrko, David (5 March 2001). "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado (PS)". IGN. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  31. "Gold & Glory: The Road to El Dorado". Nintendo Power. 133. June 2000.
  32. Steinman, Gary (March 2001). "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado (PS)". Official U.S. PlayStation Magazine. Archived from the original on 10 April 2001. Retrieved 26 February 2014.
  33. "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado for Game Boy Color". GameRankings. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  34. "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  35. "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado for PlayStation". GameRankings. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  36. 1 2 "Gold and Glory: The Road to El Dorado for PlayStation Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 14 November 2013.
  37. Chney, Alexandra (July 29, 2014). "DreamWorks Animation Q2 Earnings Fall Short of Estimates, SEC Investigation Revealed". Variety. Retrieved July 30, 2014.

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