Image Source: Getty / Axelle/Bauer-Griffin
Will Smith is the new Robin Williams. Well, in a way; it was announced that Will Smith is in talks to voice the Genie in Disney's live-action update of Aladdin. That answers our question about who will fill Williams's shoes (or lamp?), but there are still a lot of questions about the movie, which is one of many live-action reboots of Disney classics being developed. Will the musical numbers be just as magical? And how, exactly, are they going to handle the talking parrot? Here's what we know.
So far, not much is known about the new story. Although we're sure it'll follow the same basic plot of a young thief who meets a magical Genie who grants him three wishes, it's been described as "nontraditional" and "nonlinear," so at the very least we can expect the remake to take a few liberties with the 1992 animated classic.
The most substantial news is that Smith is in talks to voice the Genie. (Interestingly, Robin Williams's will has a clause preventing Disney from using his Genie voice in any future productions, so we were never going to have to endure a movie featuring a CGI Genie floating around and singing with Williams's disembodied vocals).
For the leads, it looks like Disney is trying to avoid the accusations of whitewashing in which projects like Ghost in the Shell and Iron Fist were recently embroiled, and is instead staying true to the Middle Eastern source material; the 1992 film takes place in the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah, and the original folk tale sees Aladdin as a thief in Baghdad, Iraq. No one has officially been crowned as Aladdin or Jasmine yet, but a flier advertising a casting call made the rounds on Twitter that specifies actors should be Middle Eastern, between the ages of 18 and 25, and have the ability to sing and dance.
Now it's being reported that Disney is struggling to find a male lead, and that the casting process has been "a mess." The studio initially had interest in Dev Patel and Riz Ahmed, but now it's looking more like an unknown actor will play Aladdin.
Image Source: Everett Collection
The Production Team
Director Guy Ritchie is known for his snappy, stylized approach to films like Sherlock Holmes and The Man From U.N.C.L.E., so we're excited to see what he brings to the table. Dan Lin (who worked with Ritchie on Sherlock Holmes) is producing via his Lin Pictures banner, along with executive producer Jonathan Eirich. John August is penning the script, which sources told The Hollywood Reporter "keeps many of the musical elements of the original."
No information has been announced about a release date, so stay tuned!