In Depth

Aladdin live action film: What we know so far

After criticisms for whitewashing, Disney puts out casting call stating 'these characters are Middle Eastern'

A new live-action adaptation of Aladdin has put out a casting call for actors to play the parts of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine from the Disney classic. 

After claims that the studio was whitewashing a depiction of Mulan that is currently in the works, all eyes have been on the remake of the 1992 cartoon classic, which is set in the fictional Arabian sultanate of Agrabah. 

When the open casting call was issued on 9 March, the request stated that "these characters are Middle Eastern", ensuring the actors would be true to the ethnic heritage of the original story. The would-be stars should also be aged 18-25, able to sing, with dance experience a plus. 

Who is involved?

Although the cast is yet to be decided, Snatch director and Madonna's ex-husband Guy Ritchie is confirmed to lead the project and Big Fish writer John August has written the screenplay.

Why is Disney under so much scrutiny?

Disney may be committed to ensuring the diversity of its cast, but it is the worst performing of the “big seven” Hollywood studios when it comes to hiring black directors, says The Guardian.

When an adapted version of Mulan was leaked, the script featured a "white merchant" as the lead role. After receiving a furious backlash to the whitewashing of the story, a source confirmed to Vanity Fair that "Mulan is and will always be the lead character in the story and all primary roles, including the love interest, are Chinese".

Disney says it is working hard to address its issues of representation and diversity in its productions. 

Box office hit Moana detailed the story of a young Polynesian girl fighting to save her community, while Princess Tiana in the Princess and the Frog was the first female protagonist of African-American descent. 

In 1992, Princess Jasmine became the first non-white princess to feature in a Disney film, breaking with 55 years of the studio only having white princesses. 

In a commitment to increasing its diversity, between 2016 and 2018, about 24 per cent of the studio's live-action releases will feature ethnic minority leads, reported Vanity Fair.

What about Disney's other projects?

It has been paying a lot of attention to live action remakes recently, with Beauty and the Beast starring Emma Watson and Dan Stevens soon to be released.

A series of other rebooted Disney classics will take on this format, including Mulan, the Lion King, the Jungle Book and Cinderella.

When will Aladdin be released?

Setting a release date might be a little far off. Shooting will take place over a six month period from July 2017 to January 2018 and the open casting call will be held in April. 

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