Guy Ritchie is stepping into a whole new world.
The British director, known for directing gritty crime dramas, may be taking on the live-action version of Disney's beloved animated musical Aladdin. This, if Disney is successful in landing a deal with Ritchie.
The live-action version is intended to be a non-traditional take on Aladdin. Let us hope that non-traditional does not translate into 'let's replace the supposed to be Middle-Eastern character with a white actor'. In ABC's Once Upon A Time, which is populated by characters from many of Disney's animated classics, Aladdin is portrayed by Deniz Akdeniz, an Australian actor of Turkish descent.
So there might be a good chance that Disney will preserve the Middle-Eastern-like ethnicity presented in the animated classic. Although in the original material which the film is based on, One Thousand and One Nights, which is a collection of Middle Eastern and South Asian stories and folklore, the story is actually set in China, although the tale is rife with Islamic terminology.
In the Disney classic, Agrabah, the Kingdom in which the movie is set, is a fictional city-state that bears a lot of similarity with Islamic and Middle-Eastern kingdoms of the past, and all the characters do have distinctive brown skin.
There is no word yet on how the casting will play out, but, aside from the racial aspect of the film, Ritchie has to navigate properly the handling of the iconic character of the Genie, who was voiced by the late Robin Williams. Williams' take on the role was considered one of the best pieces of voice acting in Disney history, and fans will expect the director to respect it as well as do something spectacular with it. Now that is a lot to handle.
Dan Lin, who produced the Sherlock Holmes films, which Ritchie directed, is said to be also producing the Disney remake, via his Lin Pictures. Meanwhile, Jonathan Eirich will serve as Executive Producer. John August wrote the script and is said to have kept many of the musical elements of the animated film, which means we may actually see Jasmine and Aladdin singing during their magic carpet ride.
It is not really an action-packed crime drama, is it? How Ritchie's style might affect the musical dimension of the movie should be worth seeing.