With the commercial and occasional critical success of Disney’s live-action adaptations of their classic films, one would expect the upcoming Aladdin film to do equally well. After all, in terms of genre translation, Aladdin’s Arabian Night-like setting and swashbuckling adventure tone would work well as a Hollywood blockbuster. Sadly, with the onslaught of reboot/sequel fatigue, even Disney can no longer entrance its audiences by simply reviving childhood nostalgia. Now, alongside those narrative-driven problems, it appears behind the scene problems plague these films as well.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, despite setting up a massive casting call back in March, Aladdin director Guy Richie seems to have hit some trouble. Alongside casting director Randi Hiller, Richie has brought on casting directors across the globe to locate the actors who will be taking on the rolls of both Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. Yet, despite testing nearly 2,000 actors and actresses, the studio has yet to finalize the casting of its two major characters. This testing process, declared “a mess” by an agent, is due to the studio’s devotion to casting actors who match the right criteria in terms of age and ethnic heritage (i.e. Middle Eastern or Indian), as well as possessing the ability to sing and dance.
According to sources, possible leads for Aladdin have included Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire) and Riz Ahmed (Nightcrawler, Rogue One), alongside newcomer names like Achraf Koutet, Mena Massoud and George Kosturos. Likewise, those considered for Jasmine have been Naomi Scott (Power Rangers) and Tara Sutaria. Unfortunately, so long as casting for the protagonists remains undecided, Ritchie and the studio cannot test their male and female leads together for solid chemistry.
Whereas production for Aladdin was supposed to begin this month, and shooting to start a month later in August, it’s clear that the film’s deadline will have to be moved. In the meantime, Ritchie and the studio have brought on musical veterans Marc Platt (Mary Poppins Returns) and Chris Montan (Pocahontas, Frozen) to help them consult. Sadly, this is one filmmaking problem that cannot be solved with a simple rub of the lamp.