One of the biggest question marks going into Disney’s CinemaCon presentation was what the studio was going to do in order to win over “Aladdin” skeptics. The upcoming live-action remake of Disney’s 1992 animated film has been something of a critical punching bag since the first footage of Will Smith as the blue CGI Genie debuted in February. While an official trailer released in March provided a better look at the VFX used to turn Smith into the genie, the actor’s human look as the character and the film’s artificial sets drew more criticism.
“Aladdin” is one of Disney’s big summer tentpole releases, and more pressure has been added to the film in the wake of the middling critical response and box office for Tim Burton’s “Dumbo.” CinemaCon was the perfect place for Disney to start turning the critical tides in favor of “Aladdin,” and the studio did not succeed. The footage provided an extended look at Will Smith’s “Friend Like Me” song and dance number, which included the actor rapping. The special effects were not completely done in the scene. While some found the footage to be childish, others were won over by its energy and visual flair.
“Aladdin” is directed by Guy Ritchie, best known for films like “Snatch,” “RocknRolla,” and the Robert Downey Jr.-starring “Sherlock Holmes” franchise. The movie stars relative newcomers Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Princess Jasmine, respectively, while supporting roles are played by Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad, and Billy Magnussen.
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Disney will release “Aladdin” in theaters nationwide May 24. Check out reactions to the footage below.
Based on the Disney #CinemaCon footage of “Aladdin” musical comedy does not come naturally to Guy Ritchie.
— Brent Lang (@BrentALang) April 3, 2019
And after they showed the footage
— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikWaPo) April 3, 2019
— JoBlo.com (@joblocom) April 3, 2019
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) April 3, 2019
New look at ALADDIN includes full performance of “Friend Like Me” (including Will Smith briefly beat-boxing). I’m going to be honest: it is pure nightmare fuel. It just looks … unnatural. The #CinemaCon audience liked it, though. Wishful thinking, I guess.
— Barry Hertz (@HertzBarry) April 3, 2019
Wow the updated #Aladdin footage from CinemaCon is so much stronger than the earlier BTS stuff. Proves that post and VFX is everything on live-action adaptations. Had more personality than effects-heavy “Be Our Guest” number, which was flat, in hindsight.
— Matt Donnelly (@MattDonnelly) April 3, 2019
Additional reporting by Kate Erbland