Brother Bear is Disney's 44th animated feature and the last one to be created entirely at the Orlando Studio, which closed shortly after the production ended. Disney was slowly shifting away from 2D animation (due to the bad reception its previous features had had) and they ended up closing the studio in Paris the same year.
Brother Bear was conceived after the huge success of Lion King. Disney directors wanted to create a new feature taking place in the wild, so the creative team came up with the idea of following the adventures of a bear.
The film was directed by Aaron Blaise and Bob Walker, two Disney artists who had had a lot of experience working on animals and natural themes. Blaise worked on Young Nala and Rajah while Walker had worked on the layout department in movies like Pocahontas and Lion King. So they were both perfect to lead a project like this.
In fact, the animal character's animation and the backgrounds are what stands out most in this feature. The script isn't as sharp as other Disney films, but the story is really nice and the art that supports it, makes Brother Bear a movie worth watching.
Although mainly focused on American Indians' myths, the story was based on many different tribes' legends of people that turn into animals.
Originally, the characters were based more on Inuit art and, for me, were more interesting. But in the end, the characters had to be simplified to reduce the animation time, and what was left was a sort of alaskan design.
I think that one of the biggest flops from the film is the music. Having Phil Colins create the original songs for this film was a great idea since he had done such an excellent job with Tarzan, but this time his songs seem a bit more superficial and they don't really help the story as they did in his previous collaboration with Disney.