Disney and Guy Ritchie's live-action Aladdin will feature two new songs by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the Academy Award-winning songwriters behind The Greatest Showman and La La Land. Walt Disney Studios has had a great deal of success in recent years with their live-action adaptations of feature films from their animated classics catalogue, including Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and The Jungle Book. As a result, the studio has a number of upcoming adaptations in the works, such as Aladdin, Mulan, The Lion King - and plenty more.
Released in 1992 as part of the Disney Renaissance, Aladdin tells the story of a "street rat" who stumbles upon a magic lamp and uses the genie dwelling inside to make his wishes for a better life come true - though he must first defeat the sultan's evil vizier. The classic tale is getting a live-action retelling from director Guy Ritchie, who confirmed Aladdin will be a musical before production began. Now, though it's unclear how many - if any - songs from the 1992 animated film (or any numbers from the Aladdin stage musical) will be included, we do know there will be at least two original songs.
In an interview with Variety on the red carpet for the 90th Academy Awards - where they were nominated for their work on the song "This is Me" from The Greatest Showman - songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul revealed they wrote the lyrics for two new songs for Aladdin, working with Alan Menken. A Disney veteran, Menken worked on the original Aladdin score and returned for Ritchie's live-action adaptation. Pasek said of their work on Aladdin:
We’re really thrilled that we got to collaborate with one of our heroes Alan Menken. We collaborated with him and wrote the lyrics for two new songs for Aladdin that’s coming out next year. … We’re really excited for that, and really thrilled to be a part of the Disney family.
The 1992 Disney animated film featured songs composed by Alan Menken with lyrics by Tim Rice and Howard Ashman that include classics like "One Jump Ahead", "Friend Like Me", and of course "A Whole New World." The soundtrack took home two Oscars, for Best Music Original Score and Best Music Original Song for "A Whole New World." Given how well received the soundtrack was, it seems likely many of the songs will be featured in Ritchie's Aladdin, especially "A Whole New World." Beauty and the Beast did something similar, featuring many songs from the Disney animated film but including original numbers as well. So, it's not surprising the studio would follow a similar format for Aladdin - especially since they were able to bring in such acclaimed songwriters as Pasek and Paul.
Of course, it remains to be seen if the cast of Ritchie's Aladdin will be able to live up to the beloved animated original. The live-action film will feature Will Smith as the Genie, in the role originally - and iconically - played by the late Robin Williams, as well as Mena Massoud as Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Jasmine. Additional cast members include Marwan Kenzari as Jafar, Navid Negahban as the sultan, Nasim Pedrad as Jasmine’s handmaiden Dalia, and Billy Magnussen as one of Jasmine’s royal suitors. Between the 1992 animated film and the stage musical, the cast of Aladdin have some big musical shoes to fill.
Thankfully, with production on Aladdin having wrapped earlier this year, it's possible fans will get a taste of what to expect from Ritchie's Disney film sometime in 2018. However, with a mid-2019 release date, fans have more than a year to wait before the live-action musical actually hits theaters. As such, a full Aladdin trailer likely won't arrive until much later this year - though teaser posters and trailers may start rolling out before then.
- Aladdin (2019) release date: May 24, 2019