It sometimes feels as though a fresh story about a live-action remake/re-imagining of a Disney animated classic breaks every week nowadays. For example, the Mouse House recently announced plans to develop a new version of The Lion King – with The Jungle Book (2016) director Jon Favreau overseeing the project – before, shortly thereafter, settling on an official release date for a live-action adaptation of its 1998 animated film, Mulan. And now, it’s Aladdin‘s turn to make headlines.
Disney is indeed moving forward with a live-action version of its 1992 animated hit Aladdin; itself, based on the story (about a street urchin who is granted three wishes by a mystical genie) from the collection of Middle-Eastern folktales known as The Book of One Thousand and One Nights. The live-action Aladdin film is being written by John August (Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Frankenweenie ) and has even found its director, according to a new report.
THR has broken the news that Guy Ritchie – best known to most U.S. moviegoers for directing the Robert Downey Jr.-headlined Sherlock Holmes movies – is lining up to direct the live-action take on Aladdin for Disney. Furthermore, the site reports that “many” of the musical elements from the 1992 animated film (including, potentially, the Oscar-winning song “A Whole New World”) will be carried over into the live-action version.
Ritchie, who made a name for himself directing such slick British crime caper films as Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and RocknRolla, is putting his own spin on another well-known fable about a street urchin who is destined for greater things in 2017, with his film King Arthur: Legend of the Sword. This past spring, while promoting Captain America: Civil War, Downey Jr. indicated that he, Ritchie and their other collaborators were pushing to try and get Sherlock Holmes 3 off the ground at last in the immediate future. However, with Ritchie now entering talks to helm Aladdin, it sounds as though a third Sherlock Holmes film will instead remain in development limbo.
Interestingly, THR’s report asserts that Ritchie’s Aladdin will have non-linear narrative elements; a signature element of Ritchie’s movies in general, including his early British capers, his Sherlock Holmes films and most recently, his modern take on the 1960s TV show The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (King Arthur also appears to be partly non-linear, judging by its trailer). Although it sounds as though the live-action Aladdin will remain largely faithful to its animated predecessor in other respects, this ought to help to give the film a unique quality to set it apart – and please longtime Ritchie fans, too.
Of course, the big question hanging over Ritchie’s head, as director, concerns how he will handle the character of The Genie – brought to life by a scene-stealing vocal performance by the late Robin Williams in the original 1992 animated film. Filling Williams’ shoes, so to speak, in the live-action Aladdin will not be a small challenge for whichever actor is ultimately recruited to tackle the role. For related reasons, Disney may wind up electing to pass on the Genies live-action prequel movie it has been developing over the past year and move forward with Ritchie’s Aladdin only, instead.
We’ll bring you more information on Aladdin as it becomes available.