Aladdin, the second of three live-action remakes of Disney hits arrives in theaters just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Unlike March's Dumbo, which was more of a reconceptualization, or July's The Lion King, which is not live-action, but "photorealistic CGI," Aladdin is the closest to a Beauty and the Beast-like faithful reproduction with actual actors. However, Aladdin isn't totally posed to be a slam dunk, with some critics waffling on the merits of Disney's recreation genre. That being said, the live-action Aladdin ratings still mark it fresh enough that it should be top of the box office as movie theaters kick off the summer season.
Since Disney kicked off this latest round of "live action remakes" with Cinderella in 2015, critics have been ambivalent about the results. Cinderella itself was a success story, with an 84% fresh rating when it arrived. But since then no live-action remake has achieved the same highs. Beauty and the Beast may have stormed the box office, coming in second only to Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017, but it only scored a 71% fresh rating. Dumbo couldn't even compete earlier this year, coming in with a 47% splat.
Thankfully, Aladdin is doing better than Dumbo, with a 60% fresh rating. But it does make one wonder how long until critics go into a full-scale rebellion against the concept altogether.
The review at Time Out, for instance, thinks the movie is perfectly fine but has trouble getting past Will Smith's thankless task of Not Being Robin Williams.
Will Smith is at his best when he makes the role his own, but he never quite captures the magic that made us fall in love with Genie the first time around.
Entertainment Weekly agrees there's nothing wrong with the movie per se, other than these live-action remakes having little reason to exist in the first place.
What's old is new again - but not quite as good as you remembered it. Aladdin is...fine, but it has no real reason for being beyond, you know, capitalism.
But one thing everyone seems to agree on is that the casting of Naomi Scott as Jasmine is the start of what could be an A-List level career. As the San Francisco Chronicle puts it:
Today, Aladdin is a Disney movie or a Guy Ritchie movie. But I wouldn't be surprised if, in five years, Aladdin is thought of as the film where Naomi Scott broke through.
As for how it will do at the box office, Deadline estimates it will be the top grossing film of the holiday weekend, but probably on the lower end of expectations. Not because the movie's bad, per se, but because with the opening of pool season and families heading to the beach, this is a holiday weekend where box office numbers are particularly soft.
Disney’s live-action take of their 1992 half-billion grossing animated hit Aladdin finally takes flight over the Memorial Day weekend frame, and while we’ve typically trumpeted the lofty-end of projections for most global launches, especially Disney’s, we’re going low on this one with $73M-$75M domestic (including Monday’s holiday), and $173M-$175M worldwide.
Aladdin opens in theaters worldwide on Friday, May 24, 2019.