Walt Disney Studios is in the midst of creating a brand new sub-genre of films, the animated live-action remake, that they have helped to define in recent years. The possibilities were clear with Tim Burton’s success, Alice in Wonderland, which failed critically but made a fortune. The formula has continually been refined since that point and seemingly perfected with releases of The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast.
There are multiple Disney remakes in various stages of development currently with Tim Burton returning to the fold with Dumbo and Guy Ritchie taking on the gargantuan task of bringing Aladdin to three-dimensional life. Earlier this year there was strong indications that actor Will Smith (Suicide Squad) was circling a role in Burton’s Dumbo film, however a deal ultimately wasn’t reached. Perhaps, Smith may have had a bigger aspirations.
According to a report from Deadline, Smith is currently in negotiations to join the upcoming adaptation of Aladdin as the magical genie. The role has to be one of the most daunting in Hollywood due to the huge shadow that was cast by comic legend Robin Williams. Here is what they had to say about the latest developments:
“Like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin will be a live-action musical and that would fit well with Smith who is not only an actor but was known to the world for his musical prowess as The Fresh Prince rapper before he hit the little or big screen. The production is gearing up for a long, six-month shoot, so that is one consideration. It is supposed to start in the U.K. in July and wrap early next year.”
Aladdin was about a kid who finds a magic lamp with a genie inside that grants him three wishes that puts him into a world of adventure, romance, and danger. It’s unclear what approach that Ritchie will take to bring the animated classic to life. However finding another larger than life personality, such as Smith, could help to limit comparisons to the rapid-fire comedic styling of Williams. In addition, the movie is expected to honor the musical numbers of the original in some form, so Smith’s background as a rapper should come in handy.
Over the past few years, Disney has found that the live-action adaptations that stick closely to their source material typically have performed better than than the one’s that deviate. Alice Through the Looking Glass was an ill-conceived sequel that was a complete bomb, while this spring’s Beauty and the Beast made a painstaking effort to mimic the original which resulted in a billion dollar run. The potential casting of Smith should be of concern to those hoping to get a straight forward adaptation.
Nothing in Ritchie’s filmography fits into the family-friendly mold that Disney is known for. Hopefully that challenge and a strong vision is what is driving his vision and potential pursuit of Smith for the movie. He’s reportedly only in talks and those negotiations could always fall through, however it’s interesting to see Disney’s next potential move on their ambitious film slate.