Of all the fairy tales in existence, the one of “Aladdin and the Magic Lamp” has remained the most popular, though few versions have enjoyed the same sort of success as Disney’s 1992 animated feature that has been entertaining children of all ages for more than 25 years.
It’s also inspired a number of spinoffs, among them 100 episodes of an animated TV series, a Broadway musical, a slew of video games and, now, a live action feature with Will Smith playing the Genie, a role made famous by Robin Williams in the classic animated film.
Twenty-seven years ago it was a whole new world, especially for Disney animation. The studio was coming off of the one-two success of The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast and, in its search for another fairytale to bring to animated life, they turned their attention to Aladdin. On the surface, it’s about a street urchin who finds a genie that he uses to turn him into a prince all in an attempt to win the heart of the princess Jasmine. On a deeper level, though, it’s about being true to yourself and finding the magic within (don’t puke — it’s not nearly as sappy as that sounds).
“You know,” points out Scott Weinger, the original voice of Aladdin, “I always knew that Aladdin was going to be this classic movie that we’d still be talking about all these years later, just because Disney has a tradition of making those kinds of movies.”
Linda Larkin, the original voice of Jasmine, observes: “It feels like no time has passed, and at the same time it feels like it’s been a part of my whole life. When it hits me is when I think about how little cousins were when the first movie came out, and they’re grown ups now. I’m, like, ‘Wow, they’re getting older. I don’t know what happened to them. I feel like I’m still a teenage princess.'”
Dan Lin, founder and CEO of Rideback, the production company behind the remake film along with Disney, comments, “Aladdin is a great story, but it’s also a great friendship movie and a great buddy movie. So on one hand you have a classic romance between Aladdin and Jasmine, and then you have this growing friendship between Genie and Aladdin.”
Adds producer Jonathan Eirich, “The story is so beautifully structured and the music is so incredible that we realized there isn’t anything we would ever want to fundamentally change here. The challenge then became, how do we make it as fresh as possible to ensure we are still giving audiences something new, while delivering on what they love?”
“We had this amazing blueprint in the 1992 film that we already knew worked,” Lin adds. “We just needed to find ways to further enhance and contemporize it.”
For much more on Aladdin, both then and now, please scroll down.
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