Undoubtedly one of Disney’s most contentious and uncertain projects is the impending live-action version of Aladdin. Many articles have been written about Disney’s current situation, including the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s power and Disney’s escalating influence in Hollywood as a result of its purchase of Fox.
Aladdin is anticipated to earn between $70 and $90 million on its opening weekend as of the time of this post’s writing, according to Deadline. It still has a significant uphill battle to overcome before becoming a great success, one that is perhaps far steeper than those of its fellow 2019 live-action remakes. Here’s why Aladdin’s release has been such a difficult road.
Controversial: Every Disney Live-Action Remake
Disney has unexpectedly benefited financially from the live-action adaptation of a famous cartoon film. While the technique was not new to the studio—in fact, 101 Dalmatians started the trend—it became Disney’s primary commercial strategy in 2010 as a result of Tim Burton’s unexpected success with his retelling of Alice in Wonderland.
Despite receiving unimpressive reviews, the movie went on to gross over $1 billion, making it the second-highest-grossing film of the year. From Maleficent, which told Sleeping Beauty from the perspective of the villain to Cinderella, The Jungle Book, Beauty and the Beast, Christopher Robin, and Dumbo, Disney quickly made a significant commitment to this concept.
The combined worldwide box office receipts of the ten films that can be considered Disney live-action remakes—101 Dalmatians through Dumbo—total more than $5.4 billion. To put that in perspective, that is greater revenue than the Fast and Furious movie series has generated.
There is also no sign of this tendency slowing down: Disney+, the studio’s eagerly anticipated streaming service, will debut with a remake of Lady and the Tramp; The Lion King’s photorealistic remake is anticipated to be a big box office success; and remakes of Mulan, Lilo and Stitch, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, and The Little Mermaid are also in the works.
Director Guy Ritchie Seemed an Odd Choice.
There are some things that director Guy Ritchie can be trusted to do. Ritchie is the man to turn to if you’re looking for a tale about sarcastic Cockney gangsters and their hardscrabble criminal underworld. He’s a great director to have on hand if you require a sleek, highly stylized action movie that combines a vintage aesthetic with a fast-paced tempo.
He’s definitely not the first name on your list, though, if you need a dependable studio hand to follow the rules and create a lively family musical. Disney made the perplexing decision to hire Ritchie to direct Aladdin. Prior live-action remakes have often been directed by strong, capable leaders who thrive in a studio environment and are unlikely to “auteur it up” on a priceless work of literature.
When working on Alice in Wonderland and Dumbo, not even Tim Burton, whose aesthetic is so recognizable, was able to significantly alter the source material. These films are primarily Disney productions with some directing practice. That’s not good news for Guy Ritchie, who does best in films that are clearly recognizable as his own. Due in large part to its conflict between being a Guy Ritchie film and a more traditional Hollywood franchise origin narrative, his most recent film, King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, was a failure.
Brown Makeup Was Applied to White Extras in Order to “Blend In”
When information emerged regarding how white extras in the movie were given brown makeup to “fit in” to crowd scenes, worries about an insensitive approach to the subject matter were further made worse.
However, doing so for a 2019 release with such a significant release is outright absurd. This is regrettably nothing new for Hollywood; in fact, blackface is as old as the media itself. The official statement from Disney about the problem did little to allay the well-founded rage: