Disney isn’t satisfied with the massive cinematic universe that it has created along with Marvel through the Avengers series. Nor are the upcoming plans for a new trilogy of Star Wars films along with spin-offs of solo characters enough. Disney wants to be even bigger, with more titles on the shelf, releasing a massive franchise movie after every few months. So it has been on a mission to bring back many titles from the golden days of the studio, when Walt Disney himself supervised the studio’s rise. And a few titles from the later years as well. Maleficent, a spin-off of Sleeping Beauty, was a massive success in 2013, and then the retelling of Cinderella in live-action format was a big hit earlier this year. Now Disney is looking to recreate the magic of the Arabian Nights by making a prequel film to the 1992 hit and one of the most popular Disney titles, Aladdin.
Aladdin was an animated movie and a key contributor to the Disney Renaissance that was being seen at that time as the studio emerged from a lacklustre period. Released in November 1992, the $28 million budget movie earned as much as $504 million at the box-office worldwide. It also marked the beginning of a very popular animated series on television, as well as direct-to-DVD sequels. While essentially a love story with the added drama of an evil vizier trying to usurp the crown, the movie is also remembered for its memorable supporting characters, beyond Aladdin and Princess Jasmine. Who can forget the pet monkey Abu who sticks with Aladdin through thick and thin? Ohh, and Iago, the constantly chattering, foul-mouthed and sarcastic parrot who was so annoying that he became enjoyable to hear. Jasmine’s pet tiger and the Magic Carpet, everything is worth remembering, isn’t it? And before you think I forgot him, let me come to Genie. The Genie who granted his master three wishes, the Genie who was wise and powerful, who was kind and lovable, who was cuddly and sweet, who was blue from top to bottom. Yes, the Genie, the unforgettable Genie! Voiced by none other than the talented Robbin Williams, who gave this character such a larger-than-life feel that the Genie has to be regarded as one of the greatest characters from the animation world.
So that is where Disney seems to be headed. To bring back Genie, of sorts. In a prequel titled Genies for now, Disney will be telling the origins story of Aladdin’s Genie, as reported by Hollywood Reporter. The answer to how Genie got into that lamp might just be answered more than two decades after he got out of it! It’s a nice concept, a prequel that one would not have easily wondered about but still worth attempting. The studio has got Damian Shannon and Mark Swift to write a story on this premise; the duo have previously worked on the horror movies Freddy vs Jason and then the remake Friday the 13th, before heading towards the comedy genre O’Lucky Day that is yet to be released. Genies is planned to be a live-action film and not an animated one, and that’s going to be a big difference. The project is in very early stages of development so there aren’t any more names attached to it, but if things look doable we would be hearing more about it soon.
Genies would simply add to the massive number of titles that Disney is revisiting. There is Jon Favreau’s The Jungle Book scheduled for a 2016 release which is a live-action adaptation of the 1967 animated hit. Then we will have a Beauty and the Beast film in 2017, another live-action adaptation of the 1991 animated movie. There are live-action films planned for Winnie the Pooh, Mulan, and Pinnochio as well, though which one will see the light of the day, it is difficult to say as of now. Alice in Wonderland is getting a sequel, that one is definitely happening. Tink is another project in the pipeline, a spin-off of the popular 1953 animated film Peter Pan which will now focus on the fairy Tinker Bell; Reese Witherspoon is attached to the project for the lead role. There is no dearth of Disney titles releasing over the next 4-5 years, and there would still be room for a movie on Hollywood’s mot beloved Genie. It needs to be perfect though, worthy of honouring Robbin Williams’ work!