Disney is bringing ALADDIN back to the big screen in 2019. But this isn’t the animated film released in 1992. The new ALADDIN is a live-action film with some fresh characters, all-new songs, and, we expect, a few new story twists to go along with them.
Here’s everything we know about the live-action ALADDIN remake.
The Aladdin Release Date
ALADDIN opens in the U.S. on May 24, 2019. Because many Disney films now have staggered global releases, ALADDIN hits theatres in some countries a couple of days earlier, starting on May 22. Hopefully, no one in those lucky places will spoil the film on social media before we can see it.
The Aladdin Trailer
The first teaser trailer for ALADDIN dropped in October 2018. It was designed to give us a sense of the film’s tone and style rather than to explicitly reveal any of the stars.
The first full trailer (above) does a lot more to show off the film’s style and tone. We see the new versions of Aladdin, Princess Jasmine, Genie, Jafar, and some secondary characters — and we get a sense of the film’s vibrant color palette, exciting action sequences, and rich sense of humor.
At the same time that trailer arrived, Disney released the first proper ALADDIN poster (above), which is packed with images of the film’s key scenes.
A Surprising Director
Disney’s ALADDIN remake is directed by Guy Ritchie, whose name is typically tied to action movies with a comic element, like SHERLOCK HOLMES, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. and SNATCH.
Ritchie wrote the film with John August. He pitched his version of the movie on the grounds that his stories are really about street hustlers, and he feels that’s at the heart of the story of ALADDIN. It’s really the ultimate rags-to-riches tale. Sean Bailey, president of Motion Picture Production at Walt Disney, told Variety, “We never want to feel like we have a playbook to these things because we worry it’ll make us creatively complacent. The idea of a highly energized Guy Ritchie Disney musical felt like, Oh, we haven’t done that before.”
The Aladdin Story
The story of ALADDIN is one of the most famous in literature, as part of the “Arabian Nights” collection. Its origin is a little more mysterious than the other tales, though, as it was added by the French translator, Antoine Galland, in the early 18th century.
So far, Disney’s live-action adaptations have been remarkably faithful to the original animated classics. Ritchie appears to be taking a different approach, though. Not only are there new songs, but there are also brand-new characters, some of whom are entirely original and have no basis in the “Arabian Nights” tale.
The Stars of Aladdin
Relative newcomer Mena Massoud plays the title character, and Naomi Scott (POWER RANGERS) plays Princess Jasmine. Massoud, who was born in Egypt and raised in Canada, is part of the cast of Amazon’s “Jack Ryan” series and has previously appeared in the TeenNick series “Open Heart.”
As for Naomi Scott, she’s interested in transforming Princess Jasmine into a three-dimensional character in her own right. “Everyone involved in this project weren’t afraid to really just rip things down and start again,” she told The Hollywood Reporter, “especially the Princess Jasmine character, because it’s so important to get that right.”
Alan Tudyk will voice one of the film’s most important characters: Jafar’s parrot sidekick, the wisecracking Iago. In the original animated film and two direct-to-video sequels, Iago was played by Gilbert Gottfried. Tudyk has done no small amount of voice acting work, and should be an exceptional choice. His casting also confirmed that Iago would speak; while we’ve seen the bird in trailers, we didn’t know if he would be quite the same character as in the animated original. Now we know!
Will Smith Is Genie
A new ALADDIN needs a new Genie, but finding someone to play a character originated by the late Robin Williams seems almost impossible, right? Disney went for another bold personality, and Will Smith landed the coveted role of Genie. That’s him above, in blue, CG-augmented form. The Will Smith Genie will represent a new spin on the character, too. At the CinemaCon trade show in 2018, a Disney exec described Smith’s performance as “a little Fresh Prince, a little Hitch and a whole lot of attitude.”
Disney was initially slow to reveal Smith’s Genie, but the new trailer embedded above shows quite a bit of the character, in both his “real” blue form, and disguised as a human. We also see bits of the song “Friend Like Me.”
Rounding Out the Cast of Aladdin
Dutch-Tunisian actor Marwan Kenzari plays villain Jafar. Kenzari is best known for THE MUMMY remake and MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS — and he’s a particularly attractive choice to play the notorious sorcerer. The overall response appears to simply be, “New Jafar is hot!”
And Navid Negahban plays Princess Jasmine’s father, the Sultan of Agrabah. He comes to the film fresh from “Homeland,” 12 STRONG and “Legion.” The final major member of the cast is Numan Acar, who will play Jafar’s right-hand man, Hakim.
We also know that animal characters Abu the monkey and Rajah the tiger will appear — we even see Abu playing a trumpet during “Friend Like Me” in the latest trailer and both Abu and Rajah are on the poster.
Aladdin’s New Characters
Disney and Guy Ritchie are venturing into new territory with this ALADDIN. Billy Magnussen (above, in GAME NIGHT) plays Prince Anders, who tries to win Jasmine’s hand in marriage. Disney has announced he’s “a suitor from Skanland and potential husband for Princess Jasmine,” which is a major new plot element for the film.
Dalia is another new character. She’s a handmaiden and friend to Princess Jasmine played by former SNL actress Nasim Pedrad. While Pedrad’s comedy background suggests she’ll bring some comic relief to the film, she actually serves another purpose. The original ALADDIN featured only one female character: Jasmine. As Naomi Scott explained in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter:
I never realized it, but in the animation, Jasmine is really the only female character – isn’t that crazy? The Dalia character is so important to this movie because she’s the only other female character. She may be the handmaiden but they’re best friends; they’re so close because they’ve grown up together. So we wanted people to watch the movie and see Jasmine’s relationship with another woman, and be like, ‘Ah, that’s what I’m like with my girlfriend,’ or ‘We would so do that if I was in that position.’ That’s something that’s missing from the animation.
Aladdin’s New Songs
Did someone rub a lamp and wish for new ALADDIN songs? That wish is coming true! In addition to old favorites such as “Friend Like Me” and “A Whole New World,” the live-action remake of ALADDIN will feature new songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul. Their original songs have been featured on NBC’s “Smash,” and they’ve won both awards and popular acclaim for LA LA LAND (above) and THE GREATEST SHOWMAN.
The songwriters have confirmed that they wrote a new song for Jasmine, and a “sweet” duet for Aladdin and Jasmine — and that the contributed a new verse to the song “Arabian Nights,” which was featured in the original animated movie. One thing’s for sure: These new songs should be outstanding.
ALADDIN opens on May 24 — we’ll keep you updated on new footage and images!