One of the many live-action remakes that Disney has lined up, is Aladdin. The animated version, released in 1992, became the most successful movie of that year, and remains a Disney favorite of many. Of course, Aladdin featured the voice of the incomparable Robin Williams as the Genie; a role he made completely his own. It’s hard to imagine anyone else playing the part, but successful stage adaptations of Disney’s Aladdin have proven that it is possible.
Disney will be hoping to emulate the success they’ve enjoyed with their Beauty and the Beast remake, which has already grossed over $1 billion worldwide. To do that, they’re going to need some big names attached, and it looks as though that could well come in the form of Will Smith. Deadline reports that Smith is in very early talks to star as the Genie, but with rehearsals expected to begin this month, and filming scheduled to start in July, those talks will have to be confirmed pretty soon.
Previously, Smith was rumored to be in talks for another Disney live-action remake, the Tim Burton directed Dumbo, but nothing more has been forthcoming. Aladdin would be a better vehicle for Smith’s comedic and musical talents, and if anyone has the larger than life personality needed to pull the role of the Genie off, it’s him.
With Guy Ritchie attached to direct, the Aladdin script comes from John August (Big Fish), with Dan Lin (The Lego Batman Movie) producing. An open casting call for Middle Eastern actors in the 18 to 25 age range for the lead roles of Jasmine and Aladdin was posted on Twitter a few months back, which would suggest Disney will be going with unknowns plus a big name to make up the three main characters. There’s also the possibility that they’ll go after big names for other roles too, such as Jafar, and the voice of Iago.
It’s worth remembering that all these talks could still come to nothing, of course, but it does seem like a solid piece of casting, were it to happen. Meanwhile, other Disney live-action remakes or sequels in the works include Mary Poppins Returns, The Lion King, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, and Pinocchio.