In case you haven’t noticed, Disney is re-making their classic animated films into live-action features. This week, the full-length trailer for Aladdin arrived and gave fans a glimpse of how the beloved movie was being adapted. But is it possible to capture the same magic as the 1992 film?
For director Guy Ritchie, he knew using Aladdin’s iconic music was key. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly Ritchie explained, “Clearly people are very attached to the original songs and clearly that’s part of the DNA, so we didn’t really want to stray from the original stuff, just an embellishment with a couple of new tracks.”
This feels similar to what the creative team behind 2017’s Beauty and the Beast did, a formula that certainly paid off at the box office. The cast was on board with Ritchie’s vision and priorities too. Will Smith knows “Friend Like Me” is a cherished musical number as performed by the late Robin Williams.
“[It] fit so perfectly that we all really got inspired about the idea of me being Genie after listening to two hours’ of work in the studio with no preparation,” Smith said, noting he got to bring a hip-hop vibe to the music. “I started to feel confident that I could deliver something that was an homage to Robin Williams but was musically different, and just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane versus trying to compete.”
But not everything in Ritchie’s Aladdin will be familiar to fans of the original film. La La Land songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have written a few new songs as well that were composed by Alan Menken. Curiously, Disney didn’t decide to include additional songs from the Aladdin musical on Broadway.
“It’s a Guy Richie musical,” Menken said. “It’s got a lot of his style of, as he puts it, he’ll take a moment and throw a hand grenade into it. It’s like he explodes it. And yet it’s very, very much Aladdin. It’s really been a push-and-pull to keep his style and yet also the Disney… what’s expected by the audience.”
Part of that style is adapting the film and the songs to reflect the differences between society and culture in 1992 and in 2019. “We’re 26 years later, the world moves on, so there is a shift, which is just an unavoidable aspect of time,” Ritchie commented. “But essentially the soundtrack’s the same, just somewhat embellished with a couple of new tunes in it.”
Aladdin arrives in theaters May 24, 2019.
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