Live Action Aladdin Movie!

Jondee here at Agrabah,

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There actually is already a live action Aladdin movie, it’s called Thief of Bagdad (1940). Note that this film was remade many times (there is a 1924 Douglas Fairbanks film), but it is the Alexander Korda produced film that is a classic. The film covers the adventures of a thief (played by John Justin) named Ahmad trying to win the hand of a princess (June Duprez) with the help of his sidekick Abu (Sabu), a boy not a monkey, a magic carpet, and a Djinn (Rex Ingram). They have to face an evil sorcerer named Jaffar (Conrad Veidt) who is the Grand Vizier. The similarities are too strong and it would be intimidating to remake that film. It has a prestigious list of fans including Francis Ford Coppola (he directed an episode of Shelley Duvall’s Fairy Tale Theatre) and Martin Scorsese (he directed Hugo), both on the commentary tracks on the DVD. It is unknown about the release date of the live action Disney film. The script is by John August who wrote the screenplays to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), both for Warner Bros., and Frankenweenie (2012) for Disney. All films directed by Tim Burton who would be an interesting choice to direct Aladdin (he already has the live action Dumbo), but talks are underway for Guy Ritchie. He directed Sherlock Holmes (2009), The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015), and the upcoming King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, all for Warner Brothers. His films have great energy with a sense of humor, but are mostly adult themed.

jafar-aladdin

Casting for the film, I would recommend using the musical actors from the Broadway productions for live action Disney films, but not here. I think it is more important to cast more ethnically appropriate actors. Currently, Aladdin characters are coming to Once Upon a Time. Deniz Akdeniz plays Aladdin, he was in the I, Frankenstein (2014) film, Karen David is Princess Jasmine, the talented actress in Galavant, and Oded Fehr as Jafar, who was on the Charmed series. I think most of these actors would be perfect for the film especially Karen David who can sing. Akdeniz and Fehr may not be singers so it would depend on Ritchie’s choice. In terms of Aladdin, I instantly think Riz Ahmed, who will be in Rogue One. He has the youth, can do the action part of the role, and is in the Disney fold. The question again is if he can sing. For a singer, maybe Zayn Malik from One Direction. Again, first choice for Jasmine would be Karen David, alternate, Iranian-American actress, Nazanin Boniadi, who is in General Hospital. Also, Afshan Azad from the Harry Potter films if they can sing. Possible actors for Jafar; Faran Tahir from Iron Man (2008), Irrfan Khan who was in Jurassic World (2015), Alexander Siddig from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, or Aasif Mandvi, he voiced Elena of Avalor, and was nice as a villain in The Last Airbender (2010). The Genie is the most difficult part to cast, the voice actors, though talented, in the Aladdin sequels were a tired version of Robin Williams. If it is a comic role, then I would go with James Monroe Inglehart from the musical, he has made the part as much as his own. Alternately, comedian Aasif Mandvi would work if he wants to bring some comedy to the part, less wisecracking, and more clever humor. It will be interesting to see how the live action Aladdin film turns out. If it has used any material from the Aladdin musical, haven’t seen it, I did see the Aladdin: A Musical Spectacular at DCA. The original One Thousand and One Nights tale doesn’t have too much material to bring in, but this live action movie could be a diamond in the rough.

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