Aladdin (2019 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Guy Ritchie|
|Music by||Alan Menken|
|Edited by||James Herbert|
|Distributed by||Walt Disney Studios |
|Box office||$733.3 million|
Aladdin is a 2019 American musical fantasy film directed by Guy Ritchie, who co-wrote the screenplay with John August. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, it is a live action adaptation of Disney's 1992 animated film of the same name, which is based on the eponymous tale from One Thousand and One Nights.[a] The film stars Mena Massoud, Will Smith, Naomi Scott, Marwan Kenzari, Navid Negahban, Nasim Pedrad and Billy Magnussen, as well as the voices of Alan Tudyk and Frank Welker. The plot follows Aladdin, a street urchin, as he falls in love with Princess Jasmine, befriends a wish-granting Genie, and battles the wicked Jafar.
In October 2016, Disney announced Ritchie would direct a live-action Aladdin remake. Smith was the first member of the cast to join, signing on to portray Genie in July 2017, and Massoud and Scott were confirmed for the two lead roles later that month. Principal photography began that September at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, also filming in the Wadi Rum Desert in Jordan, and lasted until January 2018.
Aladdin was theatrically released in the United States on May 24, 2019, and has grossed over $733 million worldwide, becoming the third highest-grossing film of 2019. The film received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances of Massoud, Smith, and Scott, costumes, and the musical score, but criticized Ritchie's direction and the CGI effects.
Aladdin, a kind-hearted young street rat living in the Arabian city of Agrabah, along with his pet monkey Abu, rescues and befriends Princess Jasmine, who has snuck out of the palace to explore, tired of her sheltered life. Meanwhile, the Grand vizier Jafar schemes to overthrow Jasmine's father as the Sultan. He and his pet parrot Iago seek a magic lamp hidden in the Cave of Wonders that will grant his wishes. Only one person is worthy to enter: "the diamond in the rough", whom he decides is Aladdin. Aladdin is captured and Jafar persuades him to retrieve the lamp. Inside the cave, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and obtains the lamp. He gives it to Jafar, who betrays him and throws him back into the cave, though Abu steals the lamp back.
Trapped in the cave, Aladdin rubs the lamp, unwittingly summoning Genie, a powerful omnipotent being who lives inside it. Genie explains that he has the power to grant Aladdin three wishes. Aladdin tricks Genie into freeing them from the cave without using a wish. After they get out of the cave, Aladdin uses his first official wish to become a prince to impress Jasmine, and promises to use his third wish to free the Genie from servitude.
Aladdin enters Agrabah as "Prince Ali of Ababwa", arriving in an extravagant spectacle (including Abu, who has been transformed into an elephant by Genie) but Jasmine is unimpressed by his first presentation, including an assortment of gifts and jams. The two later bond when he takes her on a ride on the magic carpet to show her the world she wants to see while Genie goes out with Jasmine's handmaiden Dalia. When Jasmine deduces Aladdin's true identity, he convinces her that he is actually a prince and only dressed like a peasant to meet the citizens of Agrabah beforehand. Jafar discovers Aladdin's identity and throws him into the sea but Genie rescues him at the cost of his second wish. They expose Jafar, who is arrested. After the Sultan offers Aladdin the position as heir, Aladdin, fearing he will lose Jasmine if the truth is revealed, says he needs Genie with him now and refuses to free him. Genie tells Aladdin that he is not being true to himself.
Iago helps free Jafar, and he steals the lamp from Aladdin and becomes Genie's new master. He uses his first two wishes to become Sultan and then to become the world's most powerful sorcerer, trapping the guards and Jasmine's pet tiger Rajah. He then exposes Aladdin's truth to Jasmine, and exiles him and Abu to a frozen wasteland. He threatens to kill Jasmine's father and Dalia unless she agrees to marry him. At the wedding ceremony, Aladdin and Abu return, having been rescued by the magic carpet and Jasmine steals back the lamp. Furious, Jafar transforms Iago into a roc to give chase and overpowers them.
Aladdin stalls by taunting Jafar for being second only to Genie in terms of raw power, thereby tricking him into using his last wish to become the most powerful being in the universe. Due to the grey area in that wish, Genie is free to interpret it as he wishes and turns Jafar into a jinn himself. Being chained to the lamp without a master, Jafar gets trapped inside, dragging Iago inside with him. Genie banishes Jafar's lamp to the Cave of Wonders and Aladdin keeps his promise, using his last wish to free Genie and turn him human. The Sultan declares that Jasmine will be the next ruler and tells her that Aladdin is a good person, and Jasmine reunites with him. Genie marries Dalia and leaves to explore the world and start a family with her. Aladdin and Jasmine get married and start a new life.
- Mena Massoud as Aladdin:
An impoverished Agrabah thief and "street rat" who is smitten with the Sultan's daughter. With the Genie's help, he masquerades as Prince Ali Ababwa. Massoud said that Aladdin "sees a future for himself that's greater than what's been set out for him at the present moment. He doesn't know exactly what it is or how he's going to get there, but he knows it is out there", and felt the character "[i]s very selfless and usually does things for other people, but as he falls in love he loses himself a little bit and starts to become someone that he's not. But he's a good person with good intentions and has good people surrounding him who lead him back to where he's supposed to be".
- Will Smith as Genie:
A comedically eccentric and kindly jinn who has the power to grant three wishes to whoever possesses his magic lamp. Smith said that he was "terrified" while playing the character, but that "[he] found a lane that pays homage" to Robin Williams' performance in the original film, while still making the role "[his] own thing". Smith described the character as "both a trickster and a mentor" who tries "to guide Aladdin to the truth of the greatness that's already within him". Smith physically portrays the character when he is in the guise of a human, while his blue genie form is CGI, portrayed through motion-capture performance.
- Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine:
The Sultan's daughter and the feisty princess of Agrabah who wants to have a say in how she lives her life. Scott said that the character "will be strong and have fun, but also get it wrong and be emotional. She's a multidimensional woman, and she does not have to just be one thing. So in this movie, you see her go on such a roller coaster, as opposed to her one goal being to fall in love or get married". She further stated that Jasmine will try to find "the courage to speak out for her people", and said that "Jasmine wants to know what goes on in her kingdom and reconcile the distance that has been created, and Aladdin gives her the courage to do just that".
- Marwan Kenzari as Jafar:
A nefarious and deceptive sorcerer, the Grand vizier of Agrabah and the Sultan's chief advisor who, frustrated with the Sultan's ways of ruling, devises a plot to overthrow the Sultan as the ruler of Agrabah by acquiring the Genie's lamp. Jafar's backstory is explored in the film, which producer Jonathan Eirich felt would make the audience "understand why he's so bad, and [he thinks] that's what makes him such a good villain".
- Navid Negahban as The Sultan: The wise and noble ruler of Agrabah who is eager to find a capable husband for his daughter Jasmine.
- Nasim Pedrad as Dalia: Jasmine's loyal handmaiden and confidante. Pedrad said that Dalia "[has] been by Jasmine's side for years and really looks out for her".
- Billy Magnussen as Prince Anders: A suitor and potential husband for Jasmine from the kingdom of Skånland.
- Numan Acar as Hakim: The head of the palace guards who is loyal to the Sultan of Agrabah since his father worked for the Sultan as a palace servant.
- Jordan A. Nash as Omar: The Genie and Dalia's son.
- Taliyah Blair as Lian: The Genie and Dalia's daughter.
- Aubrey Lin as Omi
- Amir Boutrous as Jamal: A bread vendor who Aladdin tricks to keep him from taking disguised Jasmine's heirloom bracelet.
- Alan Tudyk as Iago:
Jafar's sardonic and intelligent scarlet macaw companion. The film marks the first time the character is voiced by somebody besides Gilbert Gottfried.
- Frank Welker reprises his voice roles from the original film as:
- Abu: Aladdin's kleptomaniac but loyal pet capuchin monkey with a falsetto voice.
- Rajah: Jasmine's protective pet Bengal tiger and best friend, who communicates through growling, roaring and grunting.
- Cave of Wonders: A sand guardian that resembles the giant head of a lion (in contrast with being a tiger in the original) who has been tasked to protect the magic lamp from intruders and give it to those who are worthy like a "diamond in the rough".
Development and casting
On October 10, 2016, it was announced that Guy Ritchie would direct a live-action Aladdin film with John August penning the screenplay for Walt Disney Pictures and Dan Lin attached as producer. The studio said that the film would be "an ambitious and nontraditional" take on the tale of Aladdin that would keep much of the musical elements of the original film. On the non-traditional aspect, the studio planned for the film to be told in a nonlinear format.
In February 2017, Lin said that they were looking for a diverse cast and that they would not try "to make Prince of Persia". A worldwide casting call for the lead roles of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine commenced in March 2017, with principal production set to begin in the UK in July 2017 until January 2018. On April 19, 2017, it was reported that either Gabriel Iglesias or Will Smith was in talks for the role of Genie, for which the latter was confirmed in July. In May 2017, Jade Thirlwall was in talks for the part of Princess Jasmine.
On July 11, 2017, it was announced that principal production on Aladdin had been pushed back by a month, to August 2017, due to struggles in finding the right actor to portray the titular role. Over 2,000 actors and actresses had auditioned for the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine but that finding a male lead of Middle-Eastern or Indian descent in his 20s who could act and sing had proven difficult. Naomi Scott and Tara Sutaria were the final two actresses in the running for the role of Jasmine, but neither could be cast until a chemistry test was done with whomever was cast as Aladdin. The studio was initially interested in casting Dev Patel or Riz Ahmed for the lead role of Aladdin, but later decided to cast a relative newcomer. In what became the final rounds of screen testing, actors Achraf Koutet, Mena Massoud, and George Kosturos were still in the running for the role of Aladdin. However, the studio had begun perusing old audition tapes for the role, having not been satisfied by the latest round of screen tests.
At the 2017 D23 Expo, on July 15, it was announced that Massoud had been cast as Aladdin and Scott had been cast as Jasmine, ending a four month long open casting call. On July 17, 2017, it was announced that Disney had hired Vanessa Taylor to polish the original screenplay by August, specifically to do some "character work" and what is called "script doctoring". Meanwhile, Richie and the studio focused on casting the other main roles with filming slated to start in August in London. In August 2017, Marwan Kenzari joined the cast as Jafar with Nasim Pedrad cast in a newly created role as "a hand maid and friend of Jasmine" who will serve as a "comic relief" and Numan Acar as Hakim. The following month, Billy Magnussen joined the cast in a newly created role as Prince Anders alongside Navid Negahban as the Sultan. The decision of casting Magnussen as a new original white character into the film has drawn criticism with fans and critics deeming it "unnecessary" and "offensive", sparking accusations of whitewashing to the film while pointing out the irony regarding the worldwide search for actors and actresses to play the leads in connection to the controversy. The trailer confirmed that Frank Welker would reprise his role as the Cave of Wonders. In November 2017, Robby Haynes was cast as Razoul, while Welker was announced to also reprise his role as Abu the monkey.
The decision to hire Scott, who has Gujarati Ugandan-Indian heritage on her mother’s side and English on her father's, to play the lead of Princess Jasmine has also drawn criticism as well as accusations of colorism, as some expected the role to go to an Arab or Middle Eastern actress. In December 2018, Julie Ann Crommett, Disney's Vice President of Multicultural Engagement, said the decision to cast Scott as Jasmine reflected a mixing or association of different cultures in a broad region that consists of the Middle East, South Asia and China by extension, which all make up the Silk Road. The real intention for Agrabah was for it to be the center of the Silk Road and added that Jasmine's mother would be from a land that was not Agrabah.
When asked about Ritchie's take on the film, Pasek & Paul described it as "very muscular and action-packed". Despite initial reports, the animal characters Abu, Iago, and Rajah from the original film do appear in some capacity. On December 20, 2018, Gilbert Gottfried said he was not asked to reprise his role as Iago. In March 2019, it was announced that Alan Tudyk would be voicing the character instead. In May 2019, Welker was announced to reprise his role as Rajah, Jasmine's pet tiger.
Principal photography began on September 6, 2017, at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, and wrapped on January 24, 2018. Part of the film was shot in Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan. The Royal Film Commission provided support to the production during filming and assisted in facilitating logistics. Reshoots took place during August 2018. The film's production sets were designed by Game of Thrones production designer Gemma Jackson.
In January 2018, it was reported that the white extras were being applied brown make-up during filming in order to "blend in", which caused an outcry and condemnation among fans and critics, branding the practice as "an insult to the whole industry" while accusing the producers of not recruiting people with Middle-Eastern or North African heritage. Disney responded to the controversy, saying, "Diversity of our cast and background performers was a requirement and only in a handful of instances when it was a matter of specialty skills, safety and control (special effects rigs, stunt performers and handling of animals) were crew made up to blend in." The "Prince Ali" musical sequence features 1000 dancers and extras.
Alan Menken was brought in to compose the score for the film after previously doing so in the original animated film, while Pasek & Paul wrote a new song with Menken, and several songs from the original film, by Menken, Howard Ashman, and Tim Rice, were featured in the remake.
Aladdin held its world premiere at the Grand Rex in Paris, France on May 8, 2019. It was released in 3D, Dolby Cinema and IMAX by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures on May 24, 2019, replacing the original date set for Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
Will Smith debuted the first official poster on October 10, 2018. The teaser trailer was released the following day. In December 2018, Entertainment Weekly offered a first official look at the cast in costume on the cover of their issue for the most anticipated films of 2019. On February 10, 2019, Disney debuted a special sneak peek of the film during the 61st Annual Grammy Awards which was met with largely negative feedback from audiences, primarily due to the quality of the CGI Genie in his blue design, created via motion capture effects. The negative reception sparked a large amount of memes and Photoshop edits mocking Will Smith's appearance in the sneak peek, several of which humorously comparing it with Tobias Fünke (from Arrested Development) painted in blue in an attempt to join the Blue Man Group. On March 12, 2019, Disney debuted a second trailer on Good Morning America. This trailer was met with a much more positive reception than the previous one, as it featured several songs from the original film and more of Smith not entirely in motion-capture, but also having his CGI aspects scenes being quite suitable.
As of June 18, 2019[update], Aladdin has grossed $270.3 million in the United States and Canada, and $463 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $733.3 million, against a production budget of $183 million.
In the United States and Canada, Aladdin was released alongside Booksmart and Brightburn, and was projected to gross around $80 million from 4,476 theaters over its four-day opening weekend. While Disney was projecting a $75–85 million debut, some independent trackers had the film opening to as low as $65 million or as high as $100 million. The film made $31 million on its first day, including $7 million from Thursday night previews, the second-best total of the Disney live-action remakes. Opening day audiences were 59% female and 41% male, and ethnically 42% Caucasian, 27% Hispanic, 15% African American and 11% Asian. The film ended up overperforming, grossing $91.5 million in its opening weekend, and $116.8 million over four days during the extended Memorial Day weekend. It was the third biggest opening of 2019 (behind Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel), and the fifth-highest Memorial Day launch ever, as well as the best debut of Ritchie's career and second best of Smith's. It then grossed $11.9 million on its fifth day, the biggest post-Memorial Day Tuesday ever. In its second weekend the film made $42.3 million, finishing second behind newcomer Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and then made $24.7 million in its third weekend, finishing third.
Worldwide, the film was expected to gross an additional $100–120 million, including $10–20 million in China. It went on to gross $123.2 million from foreign territories in its opening weekend, for a global debut of $214.7 million. It was the number one film in every Latin American and Asian territory where it released. Its biggest international openings were in China ($18.7 million), Mexico ($9.2 million), the United Kingdom ($8.4 million), Italy ($6.6 million), and South Korea ($6.5 million). In the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, it had the best Ramadan opening of all time. It also scored the second best opening of 2019 in Italy, Spain, Indonesia, and Vietnam. In India, it debuted with ₹220.3 million (US$3.2 million), the year's third best opening for a foreign film (behind Avengers: Endgame and Captain Marvel). By Monday, the film had a global four-day launch of $255 million. In its second weekend of international release the film made $78.3 million from 54 countries (remaining number one in 32 of them). In Japan, the film debuted with $12.9 million, the year's highest opening weekend for a foreign film (surpassing Avengers: Endgame). In its fourth international weekend, Aladdin remained number one in twenty countries. As of 16 June 2019[update], the film's top five international markets are China ($51.7 million), the United Kingdom ($38.3 million), South Korea ($38.1 million), Japan ($32.6 million) and Mexico ($29.6 million).
On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 57% based on 323 reviews with an average rating of 5.87/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Aladdin retells its classic source material's story with sufficient spectacle and skill, even if it never approaches the dazzling splendor of the animated original." On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 53 out of 100 based on 49 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an overall positive score of 90% (with an average 4.5 out of 5 stars) and a 70% "definite recommend".
Writing for the Chicago Sun-Times, Richard Roeper gave the film 3 out of 4 stars, praising Smith, Scott, and Massoud's performances and calling it a "shining, shimmering live-action update". Variety's Peter Debruge summarized his review with: "Will Smith steps into Robin Williams's shoes, bringing fresh attitude to the role of the Genie in Guy Ritchie's high-risk, mostly rewarding live-action remake." A Mir Fantastiki review by Yevgeniy Peklo gave the film a score of 8/10, saying it was "probably the best Disney live-action remake up to date".
Despite praising the cast, William Bibbiani of TheWrap said of the film: "If you don't think about it very hard (although you probably should), the remake of Aladdin might entertain you. But you'd be a heck of a lot more entertained by watching the original film again. Or by going to a real-life parade. Or by doing some light gardening. Or by doing a crossword puzzle." Mark Kennedy of the Associated Press wrote that "Guy Ritchie... was always an odd choice to helm a big Disney romantic musical and proves utterly the wrong guy here. Aladdin, in his hands, is more like The Mummy than Frozen.
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