In recent years, Walt Disney Studios has taken to adapting its library of animated classics to live-action. Some are new takes on well-known stories, like Maleficent and Alice in Wonderland, while others have been more strict adaptations, such as Cinderella, The Jungle Book, and the recently released Beauty and the Beast. Thanks to the success of many of these films, both with critics and fans as well as at the box office, Disney has a whole host of other live-action re-imaginings in the works, including Niki Caro's Mulan, Jon Favreau's The Lion King, and Guy Ritchie's Aladdin.
Although Disney has not yet announced a premiere date for Ritchie's movie, it's expected Aladdin will start filming this summer. They recently began the process of casting, and while certain fans expressed concern about who Disney would seek for the lead roles, Aladdin's cast will not be whitewashed according to producer Dan Lin. Now, in a recent interview about the studio's slate of live-action remakes from their animated vault, a Disney executive offers more details about Ritchie's take on Aladdin.
In an interview with Vulture, president of Motion Picture Production at Walt Disney Studios Sean Bailey discussed the process of bringing Ritchie on for the project, and how Aladdin relates to the director's past films:
“Guy became interested in doing a Disney movie and we talked a lot about it. When we talked about Aladdin, he said, ‘My stories are really about street hustlers. That’s what I know how to do. And Aladdin is a classic street hustler who makes good.’ Guy’s got his own version of that story in his life. But he wanted to honor and respect the Disney of it all. 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.”
Bailey went on to discuss the level of expectation Ritchie's Aladdin will need to meet since it's one of the most beloved films released during the Disney Renaissance period - the decade from 1989-1999. Bill Condon's Beauty and the Beast is the first of Disney's live-action remakes to adapt a film from this period and it went up against the same - if not greater - expectation. According to reviews of Beauty and the Beast, it has managed to deliver a worthwhile update of the 1991 classic, and Bailey is aware of a similar challenge with Aladdin:
“We’ll make sure we still spend a lot of time talking about the contract with the audience is on that particular title. We’re going to have to deliver certain things in Aladdin.”
Certainly, there's sure to be plenty of expectation from longtime Disney fans concerning Ritchie's take on Aladdin, and so far the studio has made a concerted effort for the live-action reimagining to honor the original - especially by avoiding whitewashing the cast. Of course, it remains to be seen how Ritchie's vision will differ from the Disney classic, but with the project gearing up to begin production later this year - presumably for a 2018 release date - fans will likely get an idea of what to expect from Aladdin in the coming months.
We’ll keep you updated on any Aladdin news as it comes our way.