EXCLUSIVE: Will Smith is in talks to take on the genie role made famous by the late Robin Williams in Disney’s live-action Aladdin from Guy Ritchie, we hear. The adaptation of the animated feature follows the studio’s strategy of bringing its classic animated titles to life and so far it has been a goldmine, most recently with Beauty and the Beast which has already grossed over $1B worldwide. Smith had previously been in talks with Tim Burton about Dumbo but that did not materialize and we’re told these talks are also early.
Like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin will be a live-action musical and that would fit well with Smith who is not only an actor but was known to the world for his musical prowess as The Fresh Prince rapper before he hit the little or big screen. The production is gearing up for a long, six-month shoot, so that is one consideration. It is supposed to start in the U.K. in July and wrap early next year.
John August (Big Fish) scripted the story based on the 1992 animated classic and follows the story of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine after the commoner Aladdin finds a magic lamp and, upon shining it up, a genie is released from being trapped inside. The bigger-than-life genie then grants Aladdin three wishes.
The newly re-imagined project is being produced by Dan Lin. The executive producer is Jonathan Eirich.
The first Aladdin, in its animated form, grossed a whopping $504M for Disney 25 years ago and launched a successful merchandising line, including creating a new princess in Jasmine for its lucrative girl’s licensing line.
He is repped by CAA.