Another live-action version of a Disney tale is in the works.
Disney is reportedly developing a live-action look at the life of the Genie in “Aladdin” before he met up with the title protagonist. In “Aladdin,” still one of the most well-regarded Disney films, Aladdin passes himself off as a prince with the help of a genie in order to secure the hand in marriage of Princess Jasmine. The film is mostly remembered for the vocal work by actor Robin Williams, who voiced the Genie with a mile-a-minute, pop-culture-referencing speaking style.
More and more live-action takes on Disney animated films have been put into development lately. A live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” already has a full cast and movies about “Peter Pan” character Tinkerbell and “Dumbo” are also reportedly in the works. Disney has done well with this model, with 2010’s “Alice in Wonderland,” 2014’s “Maleficent,” and this year’s “Cinderella” all doing well at the box office.
This film, if made, does come with a hurdle, however. Williams was undoubtedly the star of "Aladdin" and impressed critics and audiences with his humorous take on the Genie character. Casting the Genie for this new movie, when Williams’s take on the role will still be very fresh in audiences’ minds (especially for a Millennial generation that grew up on “Aladdin” and most likely enjoyed multiple viewings) will be a challenge.
Disney hasn’t really faced this problem yet – those taking on roles like Maleficent or Cinderella aren't working against recent audience memory – but in reboot-happy Hollywood, it can be tough to cast a new actor in a role that people all over the world already know. Sometimes it succeeds, as with the “X-Men” film series, which cast actors James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as superhero Professor Xavier and villain Magneto, two roles already played by actors Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellan, respectively. Critics and audiences were mostly happy with McAvoy and Fassbender’s takes on the role and they’re now getting ready to star in their third “X-Men” movie, 2016’s “X-Men: Apocalypse.” And while many fans didn’t like other aspects of the prequel “Star Wars” trilogy, few could find fault with actor Ewan McGregor’s performance as a younger Obi-Wan Kenobi, a role originally inhabited by actor Alec Guinness.
But sometimes bringing on a new actor for a familiar role can backfire. Actors Jai Courtney and Emilia Clarke are getting mixed reviews for their takes on the iconic action roles of Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor in the newest “Terminator” movie, “Terminator Genisys,” which was released earlier this month. When “Psycho” was remade in 1998, actor Vince Vaughn couldn’t match up with Anthony Perkins’s portrayal of Norman Bates in reviewers’ minds.
This also isn’t the only casting challenge Disney will be taking on in the near future – a prequel about “Star Wars” character Han Solo is reportedly in the works and the lead actor will have the unenviable task of playing the role iconically taken on by Harrison Ford.