Aladdin is a 1992 American animated musical fantasy film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The film is the 31st Disney animated feature film, and was the fourth produced during the Disney film era known as the Disney Renaissance. It was produced and directed by Ron Clements and John Musker, and is based on the Arabic folktale of the same name from One Thousand and One Nights and the French interpretation by Antoine Galland. The voice cast features Scott Weinger, Robin Williams, Linda Larkin, Jonathan Freeman, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried and Douglas Seale. The film follows Aladdin, an Arabian street urchin, who finds a magic lamp containing a genie. In order to hide the lamp from the Grand vizier, he disguises himself as a wealthy prince, and tries to impress the Sultan and his daughter.
Lyricist Howard Ashman first pitched the idea, and the screenplay went through three drafts before then-Walt Disney Studios president Jeffrey Katzenberg agreed to its production. The animators based their designs on the work of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, and computers were used for finishing the artwork and creating some animated elements. The musical score was written by Alan Menken and features six songs with lyrics written by Ashman and Tim Rice, who took over after Ashman's death.
Aladdin was released on November 25, 1992, to critical and commercial success, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1992 with an earn of over $504 million in worldwide box office revenue. Upon release, it became the first animated feature to reach the half–billion dollar mark, and was briefly the highest-grossing animated film of all time until it was surpassed by The Lion King. Aladdin garnered two Academy Awards, as well as other accolades for its soundtrack which had the first and only number from a Disney feature to earn a Grammy Award for Song of the Year for the film's theme song. The film's VHS release also set a sales record and grossed about $500 million in the United States. Aladdin's success led to various derived works and other material inspired by the film, including two direct-to-video sequels, The Return of Jafar (1994) and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996); an animated television series of the same name; and a Broadway adaptation. In 2016, it was announced that a live-action remake was in the works.
Theatrical release poster by John Alvin
|Music by||Alan Menken|
Mark A. Hester |
H. Lee Peterson
|Distributed by||Buena Vista Pictures|
|Box office||$504.1 million|
In the fictional city of Agrabah, Jafar, the Grand vizier of the Sultan, and his parrot Iago, seek the lamp hidden within the Cave of Wonders, but are told that only a "diamond in the rough" may enter. Jafar identifies a street urchin named Aladdin. Princess Jasmine, who refuses to marry a suitor, temporarily leaves the palace and meets Aladdin and his pet monkey, Abu. Aladdin and Jasmine become friends and eventually fall in love. When the palace guards capture Aladdin on Jafar's orders, Jasmine confronts Jafar to demand Aladdin's release, only for Jafar to lie to her that Aladdin has been executed.
Disguised as an old man, Jafar frees Aladdin and Abu from prison, and sends them to the cave, ordering them to retrieve the lamp. There, Aladdin finds a magic carpet and obtains the lamp. Unaware to touch nothing but the lamp, Abu grabs a red jewel, and the cave collapses. Aladdin hands over the lamp to Jafar, who throws both Aladdin and Abu back down into the cave, though not before Abu manages to steal the lamp back. Trapped, Aladdin rubs the lamp and meets the Genie, who is trapped inside of it. The Genie tells Aladdin that he will grant him three wishes. Aladdin tricks the Genie into freeing themselves from the cave without using a wish, and he uses his first to become "Prince Ali Ababwa" in order to woo Jasmine.
At Iago's suggestion, Jafar plots to become Sultan by marrying Jasmine. When Aladdin greets Jafar and the Sultan at the palace, Jasmine becomes upset at them. Refusing the Genie advising him to tell Jasmine the truth, Aladdin takes Jasmine on a flight on the magic carpet. When she deduces his identity, he convinces her that he dresses as a peasant to escape the stresses of royal life. After Aladdin sends Jasmine home, he is ambushed by Jafar, but is rescued from drowning by the Genie with his second wish. Jafar tries to hypnotize the Sultan into agreeing to his marriage to Jasmine, but Aladdin intervenes, exposing his evil plot in the process; however, Jafar spots the lamp and thus discovers Aladdin's true identity. He flees to his lair, and orders Iago to retrieve the lamp from Aladdin.
Fearing that he will lose Jasmine if the truth is revealed, Aladdin refuses to free the Genie in order to maintain his charade. Iago steals the lamp, and Jafar becomes the Genie's new master. He uses his first two wishes to usurp the Sultan, and become the world's most powerful sorcerer, exposing Aladdin's identity and exiling him, Abu, and the carpet to a frozen wasteland. However, they escape, and return to the palace, where Jafar tries to use his final wish to make Jasmine fall in love with him, but the Genie cannot grant the wish as it is beyond his power. Upon noticing Aladdin, Jasmine pretends to be interested to distract Jafar, and Aladdin tries to retrieve the lamp. Jafar catches on to the plan, stops Aladdin, traps Jasmine inside an hourglass, and overpowers Aladdin and his friends with his magic. Aladdin tricks him into using his last wish to become an all-powerful genie; now bound to his new lamp, Jafar ends up trapped inside it, taking Iago with him.
With the palace and kingdom returned to normal, the Genie sends Jafar's lamp far away into the Cave of Wonders, and suggests that Aladdin use his third wish to regain his royal title so the law will allow him to stay with Jasmine. Realizing that he has to be himself, Aladdin decides to keep his promise and frees the Genie. Realizing Aladdin and Jasmine's love, the Sultan changes the law to allow Jasmine to marry whom she chooses. The Genie leaves to explore the world, while Aladdin and Jasmine plan their marriage.
In 1988, lyricist Howard Ashman pitched the idea of an animated musical adaptation of Aladdin. Ashman had written a 40-page film treatment remaining faithful to the plot and characters of the original story, but envisioned as a campy 1930s-style musical with a Cab Calloway/Fats Waller-like Genie. Along with partner Alan Menken, Ashman conceived several songs and added Aladdin's friends named Babkak, Omar, and Kasim to the story. However, the studio was dismissive of Ashman's treatment and removed the project from development. Ashman and Menken were later recruited to compose songs for Beauty and the Beast. Linda Woolverton, who had also worked on Beauty and the Beast, used their treatment and developed a draft with inspired elements from The Thief of Bagdad such as a villain named Jaf'far, an aged sidekick retired human thief named Abu, and a human handmaiden for the princess. Then, directors Ron Clements and John Musker joined the production, picking Aladdin out of three projects offered, which also included an adaptation of Swan Lake and King of the Jungle – that eventually became The Lion King. Before Ashman's death in March 1991, Ashman and Menken had composed "Prince Ali" and his last song, "Humiliate the Boy".
Musker and Clements wrote a draft of the screenplay, and then delivered a story reel to studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg in April 1991. Katzenberg thought the script "didn't engage", and on a day known by the staff as "Black Friday," demanded that the entire story be rewritten without rescheduling the film's November 25, 1992 release date. Among the changes Katzenberg requested from Clements and Musker were to not be dependent on Ashman's vision, and the removal of Aladdin's mother, remarking, "Eighty-six the mother. The mom's a zero." Screenwriting duo Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio were brought in to rework the story, and the changes they made included the removal of Aladdin's mother, the strengthening of the character of Princess Jasmine, and the deletion of several of the Ashman-Menken songs. Aladdin's personality was rewritten to be "a little rougher, like a young Harrison Ford," and the parrot Iago, originally conceived as an uptight British archetype, was reworked into a comic role after the filmmakers saw Gilbert Gottfried in Beverly Hills Cop II, who was then cast for the role. By October 1991, Katzenberg was satisfied with the new version of Aladdin. As with Woolverton's screenplay, several characters and plot elements were based on the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad, though the location of the film was changed from Baghdad to the fictional Arabian city of Agrabah.
He was initially going to be as young as thirteen, but that eventually changed to eighteen. Aladdin was designed by a team led by supervising animator Glen Keane, and was originally made to resemble actor Michael J. Fox. During production, it was decided that the design was too boyish and wasn't "appealing enough," so the character was redesigned to add elements derived from actor Tom Cruise and Calvin Klein models.
The design for most characters was based on the work of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, which production designer Richard Vander Wende also considered appropriate to the theme, due to similarities to the flowing and swooping lines found in Arabic calligraphy. Jafar's design was not based on Hirschfeld's work because Jafar's supervising animator, Andreas Deja, wanted the character to be contrasting. Each character was animated alone, with the animators consulting each other to make scenes with interrelating characters. Since Aladdin's animator Glen Keane was working in the California branch of Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Jasmine's animator Mark Henn was in the Florida one at Disney-MGM Studios, they had to frequently phone, fax or send designs and discs to each other. The animators filmed monkeys at the San Francisco Zoo to study their movements for Abu's character. Iago's supervising animator Will Finn tried to incorporate some aspects of Gottfried's appearance into Iago's design, especially his semi-closed eyes and the always-appearing teeth. Some aspects of the Sultan were inspired by the Wizard of Oz, to create a bumbling authority figure. Andreas Deja, Jafar's supervising animator, tried to incorporate Jonathan Freeman's facial expressions and gesturing into the character. Animator Randy Cartwright described working on the Magic Carpet as challenging, since it is only a rectangular shape, who expresses himself through pantomime – "It's sort of like acting by origami". Cartwright kept folding a piece of cloth while animating to see how to position the Carpet. After the character animation was done, the carpet's surface design was applied digitally.
For the scenery design, various architectural elements seen in 19th-century orientalist paintings and photographs of the Arab world were used for guidance. Other inspirations for design were Disney's animated films from the 1940s and 50s and the 1940 film The Thief of Bagdad. The coloring was done with the computerized CAPS process, and the color motifs were chosen according to the personality – the protagonists use light colors such as blue, the antagonists darker ones such as red and black, and Agrabah and its palace use the neutral color yellow. Computer animation was used for some elements of the film, such as the tiger entrance of the Cave of Wonders and the scene where Aladdin tries to escape the collapsing cave.
Musker and Clements created the Genie with Robin Williams in mind; even though Katzenberg suggested actors such as John Candy, Steve Martin, and Eddie Murphy, Williams was approached and eventually accepted the role. Williams came for voice recording sessions during breaks in the shooting of two other films he was starring in at the time, Hook and Toys. Unusually for an animated film, much of Williams' dialogue was ad-libbed: for some scenes, Williams was given topics and dialogue suggestions, but allowed to improvise his lines. It was estimated that Williams improvised 52 characters. Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for the Genie, then reviewed Williams' recorded dialogue and selected the best gags and lines that his crew would create character animation to match.
The producers added many in-jokes and references to Disney's previous works in the film, such as a "cameo appearance" from directors Clements and Musker and drawing some characters based on Disney workers. Beast, Sebastian from The Little Mermaid, and Pinocchio make brief appearances, and the wardrobe of the Genie at the end of the film—Goofy hat, Hawaiian shirt, and sandals—are a reference to a short film that Robin Williams did for the Disney-MGM Studios tour in the late 1980s.
In gratitude for his success with Touchstone Pictures' Good Morning, Vietnam, Robin Williams voiced the Genie for SAG scale pay ($75,000) instead of his asking fee of $8 million, on condition that his name or image not be used for marketing, and his (supporting) character not take more than 25% of space on advertising artwork, since Williams' film Toys was scheduled for release one month after Aladdin's debut. For financial reasons, the studio went back on the deal on both counts, especially in poster art by having the Genie in 25% of the image, but having other major and supporting characters portrayed considerably smaller. The Disney Hyperion book Aladdin: The Making of an Animated Film listed both of Williams' characters "The Peddler" and "The Genie" ahead of main characters, but was forced to refer to him only as "the actor signed to play the Genie".
Disney, while not using Williams's name in commercials as per the contract, used his voice for the Genie in the commercials and used the Genie character to sell toys and fast food tie-ins, without having to pay Williams additional money; Williams unhappily quipped at the time: "The only reason Mickey Mouse has three fingers is because he can't pick up a check." Disney attempted to assuage Williams by sending him a Pablo Picasso painting worth more than $1 million at the time, but this move failed to repair the damaged relationship, as the painting was a self-portrait of the artist as Vincent van Gogh which apparently really "clashed" with the Williams' wilder home decor. Williams refused to sign on for The Return of Jafar so it was Dan Castellaneta that voiced the Genie. When Jeffrey Katzenberg was replaced by Joe Roth as Walt Disney Studios chairman, Roth organized a public apology to Williams. Williams would, in turn, reprise the role in the 1996 direct-to-video sequel Aladdin and the King of Thieves.
Composer Alan Menken and songwriters Howard Ashman and Tim Rice were praised for creating a soundtrack that is "consistently good, rivaling the best of Disney's other animated musicals from the '90s." Menken and Ashman began work on the film together, with Rice taking over as lyricist after Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in early 1991. Although fourteen songs were written for Aladdin, only six are featured in the movie, three by each lyricist. The DVD Special Edition released in 2004 includes four songs in early animation tests, and a music video of one, "Proud of Your Boy", performed by Clay Aiken, which also appears on the album DisneyMania 3.
The filmmakers thought the moral message of the original tale was inappropriate, and decided to "put a spin on it" by making the fulfillment of wishes seem like a great solution, but eventually becoming a problem. Another major theme was avoiding an attempt to be what the person is not – both Aladdin and Jasmine get into trouble pretending to be different people, and the Prince Ali persona fails to impress Jasmine, who only falls for Aladdin when she finds out who he truly is. Being "imprisoned" is also presented, a fate that occurs to most of the characters – Aladdin and Jasmine are limited by their lifestyles, Genie is attached to his lamp, and Jafar to the Sultan – and is represented visually by the prison-like walls and bars of the Agrabah palace, and the scene involving caged birds which Jasmine later frees. Jasmine is also depicted as a different Disney Princess, being rebellious against the royal life and the social structure, and trying to make her own way, unlike the princesses who just wait for rescue.
A large promotion campaign preceded Aladdin's debut in theaters, with the film's trailer being attached to most Disney VHS releases, and numerous tie-ins and licensees being released. After a limited release on November 13, 1992, Aladdin debuted in 1131 theaters on November 25, 1992, grossing $19.2 million in its opening weekend – number two at the box office, behind Home Alone 2: Lost in New York. It took eight weeks for the film to reach number one at the US box office, breaking the record for the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve with $32.2 million. The film held the top spot five times during its 22-week run. Aladdin was the most successful film of 1992 grossing $217 million in the United States and over $504 million worldwide. It was the biggest gross for an animated film until The Lion King two years later, and was the first full-length animated film to gross $200 million in North America. As of January 2014, it is the thirtieth highest grossing animated film and the third highest-grossing traditionally-animated feature worldwide, behind The Lion King and The Simpsons Movie. It sold an estimated 52,442,300 tickets in the US.
The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported that 94% of critics gave the film a positive review based on a sample of 68 reviews, with an average score of 8.1/10. The site's consensus reads, "A highly entertaining entry in Disney's renaissance era, Aladdin is beautifully drawn, with near-classic songs and a cast of scene-stealing characters."
Most critics' praise went to Robin Williams' performance as Genie, with Janet Maslin of The New York Times declaring that children "needn't know precisely what Mr. Williams is evoking to understand how funny he is." Warner Bros. Cartoons director Chuck Jones even called the film "the funniest feature ever made." Furthermore, English-Irish comedian Spike Milligan considered it to be the greatest film of all time. James Berardinelli gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars, praising the "crisp visuals and wonderful song-and-dance numbers." Peter Travers of Rolling Stone said the comedy made the film accessible to both children and adults, a vision shared with Desson Howe of The Washington Post, who also said "kids are still going to be entranced by the magic and adventure." Brian Lowry of Variety praised the cast of characters, describing the expressive magic carpet as "its most remarkable accomplishment" and considered that "Aladdin overcomes most story flaws thanks to sheer technical virtuosity."
Some aspects of the film were widely criticized. Ed Gonzalez of Slant Magazine wrote a negative review, describing the film as racist, ridiculous, and a "narcissistic circus act" from Robin Williams. Roger Ebert, who generally praised the film in his review, considered the music inferior to its predecessors The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast, and claimed Aladdin and Jasmine were "pale and routine." He criticized what he saw as the film's use of ethnic stereotypes, writing: "Most of the Arab characters have exaggerated facial characteristics - hooked noses, glowering brows, thick lips - but Aladdin and the princess look like white American teenagers."
Aladdin also received many award nominations, mostly for its music. It won two Academy Awards, Best Original Score and Best Original Song for "A Whole New World" and receiving nominations for Best Song ("Friend Like Me"), Best Sound Editing (Mark A. Mangini), and Best Sound (Terry Porter, Mel Metcalfe, David J. Hudson and Doc Kane). At the Golden Globes, Aladdin won Best Original Song ("A Whole New World") and Best Original Score, as well as a Special Achievement Award for Robin Williams, with a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Other awards included the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature, a MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance to Robin Williams, Saturn Awards for Best Fantasy Film, Performance by a Younger Actor to Scott Weinger and Supporting Actor to Robin Williams, the Best Animated Feature by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and four Grammy Awards, Best Soundtrack Album, and Song of the Year, Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Song Written Specifically for a Motion Picture or for Television for "A Whole New World".
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists:
The film was first released in VHS on October 1, 1993, as part of the "Walt Disney Classics" line. In its first week of availability, Aladdin sold over 10.6 million copies, grossing about $265 million in the United States. In less than three weeks, the VHS release of Aladdin sold over 16 million units and grossed over $400 million in the United States. By December 1993, it had topped 21 million sales and grossed about $500 million in the United States. By 1994, it went on to sell over 25 million units in total (a record only broken by the later release of The Lion King). This VHS edition entered moratorium on April 30, 1994. A THX-certified widescreen LaserDisc was issued in Autumn 1994, and a Spanish-dubbed VHS for the American market was released on April 14, 1995.
On October 5, 2004, Aladdin was rereleased onto VHS and for the first time released onto DVD, as part of Disney's Platinum Edition line. The DVD release featured retouched and cleaned-up animation, prepared for Aladdin's planned but ultimately cancelled IMAX reissue in 2003, and a second disc with bonus features. Accompanied by a $19 million marketing campaign, the DVD sold about 3 million units in its first month. The film's soundtrack was available in its original Dolby 5.1 track or in a new Disney Enhanced Home Theater Mix. The DVD went into moratorium in January 2008, along with its sequels.
According to an insert in the Lady and the Tramp Diamond Edition release case, Aladdin was going to be released on Blu-ray Disc as a Diamond Edition in Spring 2013. Instead, Peter Pan was released on Blu-ray as a Diamond Edition on February 5, 2013 to celebrate its 60th anniversary. A non-Diamond Edition Blu-ray was released in a few select European countries in March 2013. The Belgian edition (released without advertisements, commercials or any kind of fanfare) comes as a 1-disc version with its extras ported over from the Platinum Edition DVD. The same disc was released in the United Kingdom on April 14, 2013. Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released the film on a Diamond Edition Blu-ray on October 13, 2015. The film was released on Digital HD on September 29, 2015. Upon its first week of release on home media in the U.S., the film topped the Blu-ray Disc sales chart and debuted at number 2 at the Nielsen VideoScan First Alert chart, which tracks overall disc sales behind the disaster film San Andreas. The film's Blu-Ray release in the United States sold 1,663,668 units and grossed $35.7 million, as of October 9, 2016.
One of the verses of the opening song "Arabian Nights" was altered following complaints from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC). The lyrics were changed in July 1993 from "Where they cut off your ear if they don't like your face," in the original release to "Where it's flat and immense and the heat is intense." The change first appeared on the 1993 video release. The original lyric was intact on the initial CD soundtrack release, but the re-release uses the edited lyric. The rerecording has the original voice on all other lines and then a noticeably deeper voice says the edited line. The subsequent line, "It's barbaric, but hey, it's home," was left intact. The Broadway adaptation also uses the edited line. Entertainment Weekly ranked Aladdin in a list of the most controversial films in history, due to this incident. The ADC also complained about the portrayal of the lead characters Aladdin and Jasmine. They criticized the characters' Anglicized features and Anglo-American accents, in contrast to the other characters in the film, which are dark-skinned, have foreign accents and grotesque facial features, and appear villainous or greedy.
Concerns were also raised to another scene. When Aladdin is attacked by the tiger Rajah on the palace balcony, Aladdin quietly says a line that some people reported hearing as "Good teenagers, take off your clothes," which they considered a subliminal reference to promiscuity. However, according to the commentary track on the 2004 DVD, while Musker and Clements did admit Scott Weinger ad-libbed during the scene, they claimed "we did not record that, we would not record that," and said the line was "Good tiger, take off and go..." and the word "tiger" is overlapped by Rajah's snarl. After the word tiger, a second voice can be heard which has been suggested was accidentally grafted onto the soundtrack. Because of the controversy, Disney removed the line on the DVD release.
Animation enthusiasts have noticed similarities between Aladdin and Richard Williams' unfinished film The Thief and the Cobbler (also known as Arabian Knight under Miramax Films and The Princess and the Cobbler under Majestic Films International). These similarities include a similar plot, similar characters, scenes and background designs, and the antagonist Zig-Zag's resemblance in character design and mannerisms to Genie and Jafar. Though Aladdin was released prior to The Thief and the Cobbler, The Thief and the Cobbler initially began production much earlier in the 1960s, and was mired in difficulties including financial problems, copyright issues, story revisions and late production times caused by separate studios trying to finish the film after Richard Williams was fired from the project for lack of finished work. The late release, coupled with Miramax purchasing and re-editing the film, has sometimes resulted in The Thief and the Cobbler being labeled a rip-off of Aladdin.
On July 15, 2015, the studio announced the development of a live-action comedy adventure prequel called Genies. The film was being written by Mark Swift and Damian Shannon, while Tripp Vinson was on board to produce via his Vinson Films banner. It was intended to serve as a lead to the live-action Aladdin film. On November 8, Disney revealed it had originally planned to use Robin Williams' unused lines from the 1991–92 recording sessions for the film, but his will prohibited the studio from using his likeness for twenty-five years after his death.
In October 2016, it was reported that Disney was developing a live-action adaptation of Aladdin with Guy Ritchie signed on to direct the film. John August is writing the script, which will reportedly retain the musical elements of the original film, while Dan Lin is attached as producer. Lin revealed that they are looking for a diverse cast. In April 2017, Will Smith entered talks to play the Genie. The following month, Jade Thirlwall entered talks to portray the role of Jasmine. Alan Menken said filming is slated to begin August 2017. Production had originally been scheduled to begin in July, but was delayed due to Disney having trouble finding the right people to play Aladdin and Jasmine. British actress Naomi Scott and Indian actress Tara Sutaria were being considered to play Jasmine. For the role of Aladdin, British actors Riz Ahmed and Dev Patel were initially considered, but it was later decided that a newcomer should be cast in the role. In July 2017, it was announced that Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud has been cast as Aladdin, Naomi Scott has been cast as Jasmine, and Will Smith has been cast as the Genie. At the 2017 D23 Expo, Alan Menken announced that he would be co-writing new songs for the film with Academy Award winners Pasek and Paul (La La Land) while Vanessa Taylor (Game of Thrones, The Shape of Water) would re-write the script. In August 2017, Marwan Kenzari, Nasim Pedrad, and Numan Acar joined the cast as Jafar, Dalia, and Hakim, respectively. The following month, Billy Magnussen and Navid Negahban were cast as Prince Anders and the Sultan, respectively. Filming began on September 6, 2017 at Longcross Studios and concluded on January 24, 2018. The film is scheduled for release on May 24, 2019.
Chuck Jones' verdict is judicious: Aladdin is "the funniest feature ever made." It's a movie for adults – if they can keep up with its careering pace – and, yes, you can take the kids. It juggles a '90s impudence with the old Disney swank and heart.
Celebrating its 60th anniversary, Disney has released the timeless classic animated film “Peter Pan” onto Blu-ray for the first time with an impressive trip to Neverland given “Diamond Edition” treatment.
Pardon the nostalgic digression, but Walt Disney's fourteenth animated feature, now celebrating its 60th anniversary, has the look and whimsy of a much younger production.