Another day, another classic Disney animated film being remade in live-action. It seems Disney has found a formula that works – live-action remakes being green lit this year at a record pace. The latest to be announced is a remake of 1992’s Aladdin. Action director Guy Ritchie is in negotiations to direct.

A Whole New Aladdin

Genie from Walt Disney's AladdinImage Credit: Disney

The original version of Aladdin is a celebrated classic among Disney’s animated hits. Though it’s known for classic songs like “A Whole New World,” the most recognizable part of Aladdin is Robin Williams.

The late, great actor and comedian gave voice to the Genie, who grants Aladdin’s wishes and helps him win the heart of the beautiful Princess Jasmine. Williams did more than just voice the Genie, though — he gave the character life. Williams’ performance has become synonymous and inseparable from the role.

So how exactly do you remake Aladdin without Robin Williams? No one knows how the live-action remake will approach the role, but it’s a safe bet they won’t be going with a mere imitator.


In fact, it was Williams’ death that prevented Disney from moving forward with an earlier live-action Aladdin film. In 2015, the company announced it was moving forward with a live-action Aladdin prequel called Genies.

If it was successful, the plan was to then film a live-action remake of Aladdin. The plan called for the use of Robin Williams’ unused 1991-92 recordings for the Genie. Unfortunately, Disney soon learned that Williams’ will prevented them from using his “likeness” for 25 years after his death.

An Unusual Pedigree

It appears that Disney has now decided to just skip ahead and film a live-action Aladdin instead. Director Guy Ritchie is known for his non-linear storytelling approach. The new Aladdin is said to favor that same style.

Richie made a name for himself with his British crime films Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. He then moved on to bigger action films like Sherlock Holmes (and its sequel), The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and next year’s King Arthur: Legend of the Sword.

The live-action Aladdin is being written by screenwriter John August. Disney favorite Tim Burton has directed several films written by August, such as Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Big Fish, Corpse Bride, and Frankenweenie.

Disney Remakes, Ad Nauseum

The new Aladdin is just the latest in a string of recent live-action Disney adaptations. In 2014, Angelina Jolie starred in Maleficent, a live-action retelling of Sleeping Beauty. The following year, Disney released a live-action version of Cinderella from director Kenneth Branagh. Earlier this year, director Jon Favreau struck gold with his live-action version of Disney’s The Jungle Book.

Next spring, Harry Potter star Emma Watson will take the lead in a live-action version of Disney’s 1991 classic, Beauty and the Beast. Disney is also developing Cruella, a live-action film focusing on the villain from 101 Dalmatians.  Emma Stone in talks to star in that one. Tim Burton is signed on to begin filming a live-action version of Dumbo very soon, as well.

Earlier this month, Disney announced plans for a Mulan remake, to hit theaters in 2018. Jon Favreau is also following up The Jungle Book with a live-action remake of The Lion King.

What do you think? Could anyone ever replace Robin Williams as the Genie?

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