[Featured image courtesy Will Smith official Facebook page]
Can Guy Ritchie play nice in the Disney sandbox? The world will soon find out, as work begins on the live action adaptation of Disney’s 1992 animated classic Aladdin. After a long casting search for the perfect scruffy street rat to star alongside Will Smith as the Genie, Smith celebrated the official start of filming with a cast selfie alongside co-stars Mena Massoud (Aladdin), Naomi Scott (Jasmine), and Marwan Kenzari (Jafar).
Ritchie’s boisterous, muscular takes on classic characters has a mixed track record. While Sherlock Holmes has done well enough through two movies, Ritchie’s revisionist take on King Arthur sank beneath scathing reviews and dismal box office. (The Man from U.N.C.L.E.? Underappreciated gem – go see it!)
The $1.2 billion in worldwide box office racked up by Disney’s 2017 live action Beauty and the Beast sets a high bar for Aladdin and Disney’s other live action and/or CGI remakes in the production pipeline, among them Mulan, Dumbo and The Lion King.
In the 1990’s Disney saw a steady upward trajectory for the box office for three crown jewels that set the stage for the 1994 release of the mega-blockbuster The Lion King. Worldwide box office grew from The Little Mermaid (1989 $211 million), Beauty and the Beast (1991 $424 million), and Aladdin (1992 $504 million) before charging to almost $1 billion ($968 million to be precise) with Lion King in 1992.
At least the animated-to-live-action remake revenue steam has been free of the directorial merry-go-round plaguing Disney’s Star Wars franchise. Both the Han Solo standalone film and Star Wars Episode 9 have seen multiple directorial changes at various stages of production. You can read our coverage of that off-screen drama here.
Hopefully Disney and Ritchie will find a happy medium between genre formula straightjacket and director’s vision/ discombobulated mess for Aladdin’s voyage to a Whole New (Live Action) World.