This Friday, Disney’s live-action Beauty and the Beast will mark the studio’s latest installment of its ongoing (and well-documented) run of live-action remakes based on its library of classic animated films.
Regardless of what you think about Beauty and the Beast, it may not surprise you that there is another live-action remake headed our way.
In a couple news reports that went under our radar last year (and one item that cropped up last month), it was revealed that the studio has forged ahead with a live-action remake of the 1992 animated film Aladdin*.
In the director’s chair for the project is Guy Ritchie (Sherlock Holmes movies, The Man from U.N.C.L.E.), who will direct from a screenplay by John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie). Dan Lin, who produced Ritchie’s Holmes films for Warner Bros., will produce this film under his Lin Pictures production banner.
Sources close to the project told THR that August’s script will retain the original film’s musical component. As of that report, how they will approach the Genie character is still being determined, especially since that character remains closely associated with Robin Williams’ memorable performance in the original film.
Guy Ritchie is best known primarily for his fast-paced, hyper-stylized visual aesthetics. This made him a perfect candidate for Disney, who was reportedly seeking a director that could deliver on what the studio promises to be an ambitious, non-traditional, and nonlinear take on the property. Ritchie is currently in post-production on Warner Bros.’ upcoming fantasy film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword*, a movie with plenty of his stylistic flourishes on display, judging by the latest trailer:
Once he’s done with King Arthur, Ritchie will reportedly move straight into Aladdin as the studio intends to begin production on the film this summer. Specifically, according to a casting call floated around on Twitter, Disney intends to start filming Aladdin this July, with principal photography set to last all the way through to January of 2018.
Also, did you notice that the casting call is specifically searching for Middle Eastern actors between the age of 18-25 for the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine? During the press junket for The LEGO Batman Movie, Dan Lin was interviewed by Collider about Aladdin. Lin, who himself is Taiwanese-American, had this to say about the casting process for the movie:
“Look at me. (Laugh). I Mean I’m not a typical guy. Listen, I’m very fortunate working in Hollywood; I am diverse. So when I came in to make the movie, I wanted to make a diverse version of the movie. Luckily for me, Guy Ritchie has the same vision and Disney has the same vision. So we’re not here to make Prince of Persia. We want to make a movie that authentic to that world.”
Lin also elaborated on the film’s musical elements, stating that newcomers to the roles will have a challenge: can they be able to act and sing?
“We’re gonna be discovering new people because it’s a real challenge, because not only does an actor have to act, but they really have to have singing chops. Disney’s done an amazing job from Cinderella to now Beauty and the Beast. … So they’ve really raised the bar for these musicals and these animation-to-live-action adaptations, that we have to then raise the bar on Aladdin. … Disney’s done such a good job between Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and then Aladdin will hopefully be the next one up.”
Like with The Lion King, Aladdin was an iconic highlight of Disney’s original Renaissance era, and it became something of a small franchise for Disney, with several direct-to-video sequels produced and a short-lived TV show for the Disney Channel and a Broadway show under its belt. Now, the property joins an never-ending list of animated films getting the live-action remake treatment. Will it have the same success as previous films? Once more, only time (and box-office numbers and critical reception) will tell.
What do you think? Are you excited for latest in the line of Disney’s live-action remakes?
* #1: Two years ago, Disney announced that it was developing Genies, a prequel to Aladdin that would have functioned as the origin story of the popular Genie character and explored his world. Nothing from this project has materialized since.
* #2: Disney is also working on its own version of the Arthurian legend: a live-action remake of the 1963 animated film The Sword in the Stone. Again, not much of the project has been heard of since.
Edited by: Kelly Conley