Disney is hard at work on reinventing its numerous classic animated films with live-action adaptations. After hits like Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast, one of the next in the pipeline is Aladdin, directed by Guy Ritchie. The project was supposed to start filming this month, after casting kicked off in March. Unfortunately, the film's hit a significant speed bump, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Although #WillSmith is already signed on as the Genie, confirming previous rumors, things are different for the roles of Jasmine and Aladdin, THR reports. The studio and Ritchie have undergone a massive casting search that's spanned three months and more than 2,000 candidates.
Disney is eyeing #NaomiScott (Kimberly in this year's Power Rangers) and #TaraSutaria (Best of Luck Nikki, The Suite Life of Karan & Kabir) for Jasmine. However, neither of them have signed on since Disney's waiting to lock down its Aladdin to make sure the actors have chemistry.
That's where the trouble comes in. #Disney and Richie have been facing a big challenge in finding a man in his mid-twenties who feels right for the part (and who can both act and dance). On top of that, the casting process was further dragged down due to to the director and studio "going back to the drawing board." That hasn't translated to a smooth casting experience. The agent of one actor who tested, for example, told THR:
"The test process was a mess."
The studio is reportedly going back to rejected audition tapes to see if the lovable thief is in there somewhere. Yikes. Now, keep in mind that this doesn't mean there haven't been a few hopefuls for the role. The studio initially eyed #RizAhmed (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and #DevPatel (Chappie). Those actors are no longer candidates as of now, but Disney has three other possibilities for the part: Achraf Koutet (Land Van Lubbers), Mena Massoud (Open Heart, Saving Hope) and George Kosturos (Silo, Ride).
This uncertainty has forced the studio to push production back a month to August.
Does That Mean The Movie's In Trouble?
Looking at the situation, it's possible that these difficulties will continue to affect production, but that doesn't necessarily mean the film itself is in trouble nor that it'll disappoint us. According to the report, sources say that this delay comes primarily as an effort from Disney to get the #Aladdin casting done right. If that's indeed the case, then it's a great sign for the project.
After all, this isn't the first live-action Disney movie that has hit gold with its leads after an extensive casting process. The House of Mouse started working on a live-action #Cinderella in 2010, and thousands of actresses auditioned before the studio eventually picked Lilly James. As director Kenneth Branagh told THR:
"You don't know that you're going to make the movie until you make that piece of casting. You have to find the actor. It was a long process. I joined 'Cinderella,' and they'd been working for a little while [...] They'd seen hundreds and hundreds of girls. And Lily came in to read for one of the stepsisters. I remember [the casting director had] sent me a tape, and I was going to grab something, and I heard her. It was literally the voice to start with, because it's that warmth, those colors, that we needed."
Then there's Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with everyone's new favorite Jedi, Rey (last name pending). According to THR, J.J. Abrams and Lucasfilm had a six-month casting process for the role, during which thousands of actresses were tested. Out of that process came Daisy Ridley, and we know how she turned out.
Looking at those cases, Disney and #GuyRitchie being so thorough with their search for Aladdin is a good sign for the project, as it'll probably lead to an amazing choice. Of course, the casting process can't take forever. So to speed things up, the studio's hired Marc Platt (who worked as a producer on Mary Poppins Returns) and Chris Montan (who worked as executive music producer for Toy Story and Frozen) as consultants. Hopefully this means we'll get our new Jasmin and Aladdin sooner rather than later.
What do you think about the troubled casting behind Guy Ritchie's Aladdin? Do you think the movie's in trouble or do you like the thorough process?