BY BILLY SUTER
AN ICONIC animated screen role famously played by Robin Williams is to be filled in a live-action remake for the big screen by an actor who was nominated twice for an Oscar – for his performances in The Pursuit of Happyness and Ali.
Yep, after lots of rumours in recent times, it has been formally announced that Will Smith, the rapper-actor who first shot to fame in TV’s The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, is to play the amusing Genie in the new Aladdin film.
Whispers have it that comic Kevin Hart was originally approached for the rule, according to some websites.
An interesting director has been selected for the project – Madonna’s former husband,.British director Guy Ritchie, whose is better known for quirky action-dramas such as Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch.
The screenplay will be by John August, whose credits include Big Fish.
Reports have it that newcomer Mena Massoud is to fill the title role of Aladdin, while Naomi Scott, who played the Pink Ranger in Power Rangers, is to portray Princess Jasmine.
The remake of Aladdin, reportedly the highest grossing film of 1992, follows the recent animation-to-live-action cinema versions of Beauty and the Beast, Cinderella and The Jungle Book.
Tim Burton, meanwhile, is working on a new version of Dumbo, scheduled for a March 29, 2019, release, with a cast including Colin Farrell, Michael Keaton, Eva Green, Danny DeVito, Nico Parker and Finley Hobbins
The film stars Farrell as Holt Farrier, a former circus star and war-veteran charged with the care of a newborn elephant whose oversized ears make him a laughingstock of an already struggling circus.
Parker and Hobbins were cast as Holt’s children, who discover that Dumbo can fly. DeVito portrays circus owner Max Medici who tries to capitalise on the novelty.
Michael Keaton is persuasive entrepreneur V A Vandevere, who swoops in with aerial artist Colette Marchant, portrayed by Eva Green, to make Dumbo a star.
Katterli Frauenfelder, Derek Frey, Ehren Kruger and Justin Springer are producing from a screenplay by Kruger.
Filmed entirely in England, Dumbo will make use of trend-setting visual effects to portray the big-eared elephant and many of his animal counterparts.
Also note that a live-action version of Mulan is scheduled for release late next year, while a live-action remake of The Lion King – with a cast apparently including James Earl Jones, Donald Glover, Seth Rogen, Billy Eichner and John Oliver – has been pencilled in for a July 2019 release.
Live-action screen versions of Pinocchio, James and the Giant Peach and Oliver Twist are reportedly also in the pipeline. Word is that there is also a strong chance of The Sword in the Stone and The Little Mermaid being remade.