The King and I is a 1999 American animated musical film that is loosely adapted from the Anna Leonowens story, and uses songs and some of the character names from the 1951 stage musical The King and I.
In 1862 Siam, the King of Siam rules with traditional beliefs and refusal to change. With the arrival of Englishwoman Anna Leonowens and her son Louis, his Prime Minister, Kralahome, plots to have the King overthrown with deceit. At the same time, the Crown Prince Chulalongkorn falls in love with Tuptim, a servant given to the King as a gift from Burma, but their love must remain a secret as such is strictly forbidden.
A soundtrack album was released on March 16, 1999 by Sony Classical Records. It was released on both CD and cassette formats. All the songs on the album were composed by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers. 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. 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". 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".
The King and I was released theatrically on March 19, 1999 by Warner Bros. and produced by Morgan Creek Productions, Rankin/Bass Productions, Nest Family Entertainment, and Rich Animation Studios.
The film was an complete box office failure. 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.
The film received mainly negative reviews with a 13% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes. 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". 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". 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". It notes that it is surprising that the Rodgers and Hammerstein Organization green-lit the project, and adds that it is shocking how the source material could be made into such an "awful" movie, saying "geared towards children, the story is reduced to a carefree singalong with annoyingly superficial characters, cuddly animals, a forced love story, and a wasteland of scenes without wit or intelligence". It notes that the film seems to be a The King and I for kids, though points out that the original film has been "a kid-favourite for generations already, without the addition of supernatural elements such as dragons." Roger Ebert gave it 2 stars out of 4 and felt that animated adaptations of musicals have potential but found the film rather dull.
Due to the performance at the box office and the overwhelmingly negative reviews, the estates of Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II have declared that there are to be no more animated features based on their musicals.