The majority of Guy Ritchie’s Aladdin looks great. The sets are beautiful, the casting is on point and it seems that the director’s on course to nail the romantic, fantastical tone of the 1992 Disney classic. But there’s one big, blue element that’s currently in doubt: Will Smith’s Genie.
When we got our first look at the movie a few months back, fans were suspicious of multiple shots showing Genie in a Will Smith-shaped human form. There was (minor) uproar, with people asking – nay demanding – that the Genie be blue and sure enough, Smith and Disney assured fans that the character would indeed be blue for large swathes of the movie.
Presumably, then, they cut together the most recent trailer including shots of the blue Genie and breathed a sigh of relief, thinking that at least those moaning fans would now be happy. It didn’t quite work out like that, though.
Faced with genuinely off-putting special effects, folks immediately claimed this Genie would give them nightmares, that it was horrifying to look at, that the CGI sucked, etc., etc. Now, Disney’s responded to the backlash, saying the following in a statement to USA Today:
“We have one of the most anticipated films of the year and are confident that audiences will fall in love with the Genie and all of the characters when it hits the big screen this May.”
Sure, it’s PR boilerplate, but does at least suggest that they feel this backlash is notable enough to demand a response. If I were Disney though, I wouldn’t be too worried.
Remember the reveal of the CGI Paddington prior to his debut film? He instantly became a sinister meme and the subject of much online mockery, with similar comments about him looking horrifying. Then the movie came out and everyone forgot that reaction in about five seconds. Plus, the Genie’s a magical creature – he’s supposed to look weird! But I guess maybe not weird in this specific way.
In any case, we’ll know for certain if this backlash has any impact on things when Aladdin arrives on May 24th.