Aladdin Producer Says He Wasn’t Expecting The Will Smith Genie Backlash

Aladdin 2019

2019 has turned out to be a great year for Disney’s production line that continues to roll out live-action remakes of the studio’s animated classics. Both Aladdin and The Lion King earned well over a billion dollars each at the box office, with the latter only a week or two away from becoming the seventh highest-grossing movie of all-time. Tim Burton’s Dumbo also happened, but you’d be forgiven for already forgetting that it even existed.

While The Lion King was always guaranteed to be a massive success, the jury was out on Aladdin for quite some time. Reviews for Guy Ritchie’s update of the classic 1992 original were mixed at best, and most of the buzz surrounding the project before it hit theaters centered more on the internet’s morbid fascination with Will Smith’s terrifying-looking rendition of the Genie more than the actual movie itself.

One person who wasn’t expecting the topic of the former Fresh Prince’s nightmare-inducing new look was producer Dan Lin, who admitted in a recent interview to promote Aladdin’s upcoming home video release that he was taken aback by the amount of controversy that the Genie generated.

“Yeah, we expected some backlash. I’ll be honest, we did not expect the amount of backlash that we actually got. I feel like it really became part of the popular culture, when we’re on the news with people talking about how the Genie looked. We never expected that kind of reaction.

But, certainly, we expected some kind of backlash. Given that he’s an iconic character; Robin Williams created a character that everyone loved in their childhood. Naturally when you take that character and turn it into a real-life live-action character, it’s going to bump some people. But we did not expect the reaction we got.”

No offense to Dan Lin, but anyone who went near any kind of media in the months before Aladdin’s release must have been aware that Will Smith’s Genie was dividing opinions, so it seems scarcely believable that someone so heavily involved in the movie was unaware. Not only was he taking on what’s arguably the greatest and most iconic voice performance in the history of animation, but the first trailer didn’t exactly do the CGI much justice, either.

Smith’s look may have been a little off-putting even with finished visual effects, but the actor actually turned out to be the best thing in the entire movie, and Aladdin is noticeably a lot less entertaining anytime the two-time Academy Award nominee isn’t on the screen. The film also became the biggest hit of his entire career, so Smith seems likely to sign up for the sequel that’s already in development.