When it was first announced that Disney would be moving forward with a live-action remake of Mulan, fans were curious to see how the studio would proceed. Concerns were raised when rumors swirled that the film might introduce a “White Knight” narrative to the film, but Disney quickly put a cap on those fears, promising a cast full of Chinese actors and actresses.
And when it comes to the studio’s live-action version of Aladdin, which has Guy Ritchie set to direct, it appears that Disney has no plans to whitewash this other 90s animated classic. Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently spoke with producer Dan Lin in anticipation of the release of The LEGO Batman Movie, and Lin promised that Aladdin will be diverse and authentic, alluding to a recent Persia-centric blockbuster that failed in this regard:
“Look at me. (Laughs) I mean I’m not a typical guy. Listen I’m very fortunate working in Hollywood; I am diverse. So when I came in to make the movie, I wanted to make a diverse version of the movie. Luckily for me Guy Ritchie has the same vision and Disney has the same vision, so we’re not here to make Prince of Persia. We want to make a movie that’s authentic to that world.”
Lin hinted that Ritchie and Co. are looking to cast newcomers in the major roles of Aladdin and Jasmine, also confirming that yes, Aladdin will retain the musical aspect of the 90s original:
“We’re gonna be discovering new people because it’s a real challenge, because not only does an actor have to act, but they really have to have singing chops.”
This is certainly in line with the live-action adaptations Disney has done thus far. The Jungle Book scaled back the musical aspects of the original film, but the upcoming Beauty and the Beast features the return of songwriters Alan Menken and Tim Rice and is a full-on musical, and director Jon Favreau’s in-development The Lion King will retain the classic Tim Rice songs from that 1995 classic. Aladdin had songs written by Menken, Rice, and the late Howard Ashman, and given that Menken and Rice returned for Beauty and the Beast, one imagines they’ll also be involved in Aladdin.
The challenge here is making a film that lives up to the iconic status of the original, which is especially curious given that Ritchie has never made a musical before. The filmmaker’s prior work hews closely to the action genre with a spunky spin, as films like The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Sherlock Holmes have a playful spirit that should suit Aladdin well.