Will Disney’s live-action ‘Aladdin’ be a whole new world?

October 12, 2018 - 4:40 PM
145
Screenshot of Disney live-action remake of "Aladdin." (Screenshot from trailer)

Disney Pictures has released its first preview of the live-action remake of its hit movie “Aladdin.”

The one-minute-and-a-half sneak peek shows the desert region of Agrabah and the Cave of Wonders, the mysterious realm where the titular hero finds the lamp containing a wish-granting genie, known in folklore as a djinn.

The remake of Disney’s 1992 hit loosely based on the ancient Arabic collection of folk tales “One Thousand and One Nights” will be directed by Guy Ritchie, who also helmed the Sherlock Holmes trilogy and the 2017 adaptation of the legend of King Arthur.

The surprise release has received some warm applause from fans of the original.

 

The casting of Mena Massoud, a Canadian actor born in Egypt, to play the lead role of Aladdin has been praised. Another actor of middle-eastern descent, Marwan Kenzari, has been tapped to play the villain Jafar.

Will Smith will take the role of Genie, who was originally voiced by late comedian Robin Williams in the 1992 version and its sequel.

The selection of English actress Naomi Scott however has been surrounded by controversy, with many accusing the film’s producers of ‘whitewashing‘ the role for not choosing an actress with middle-eastern or Arabic descent and tanning their performers so as to make them look more suited for their roles.

The 2010 adaptation of the “Prince Persia” video game series was criticized for casting Caucasian actors despite being set in the ancient Persian empire.

The 1992 animated feature received widespread acclaim, with critics lauding it for its animation and soundtrack alike. It won two Academy Awards in music: Best Score and Best Original Song for “A Whole New World,” which featured the voice of Filipina musical actress Lea Salonga.

It was also one of the biggest commercial successes in the early days of Disney’s venture into the big screen, earning more than $500 million on a budget of just $28 million.

It was followed up by two direct-to-video sequels: “Aladdin: The Return of Jafar” in 1994 and “Aladdin and the King of Thieves” in 1996 but neither release was able to recreate the first movie’s success.

A Broadway adaptation staged in 2011 also received critical acclaim and was nominated for a Tony Award.

“Aladdin” which is expected to premiere in May 2019 will join the lineup of live-action remakes of Disney Pictures’ classic animated features.

Among the new project’s biggest hits is 2017’s “Beauty and the Beast,” which became the 14th highest-grossing film of all-time after getting more than $1.2 billion worldwide.