Disney Announces Cast for Live-Action ‘Aladdin’ Remake With Will Smith as Genie Among Slew of D23 Revelations

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Disney announced the cast of its upcoming live-action “Aladdin” remake during the D23 Expo in Anaheim on Saturday, among a slew of other revelations.

Disney unveiled Mena Massoud to play the title role of Aladdin and Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine, with Will Smith starring as Genie. The announcement came on the heels of rumors the studio was conducting a global search in an attempt to find cast members of Middle Eastern or Indian descent.

A release date was not announced.

However, the movie studio did release a number of extended previews for upcoming features. Among the most anticipated first looks was that for “Star Wars: The Last Jedi.”

Director Rian Johnson was joined by cast members Mark Hamill, Daisy Ridley, John Boyega, Gwendoline Christie, Kelly Marie Tran, Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro to show a new behind-the-scenes featurette with looks at the upcoming film.

Those hoping for a full “Star Wars” trailer were let down, but Disney did have the first extended look at “A Wrinkle in Time.”

Director Ava DuVernay, young star and newcomer Storm Reid, Reese Witherspoon, Mindy Kaling, Chris Pine and Oprah Winfrey all took the stage to introduce the new trailer for what DuVernay called “a family story wrapped in an epic adventure.”

Kaling emphasized, however, that the film, based on the 1962 novel, is filled with modern flare.

The quotations spoken by her character, Mrs. Who, for example, were updated to be more “inclusive.” Mrs. Who quotes Jay-Z, among others, Kaling said.

Jon Favreau, director of “The Lion King,” brought with him a piece of footage that elicited the most nostalgic feelings among the audience.

The footage show from the live-action “The Lion King” was a shot-by-shot remake of the opening scene from the animated film, complete with “The Circle of Life” blaring in the background and a first look at CGI Simba.

Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn told the crowd the live-action version would be “respectful and faithful to the lion king you already know and love.”

A full trailer for “Mary Poppins Returns” was not ready for D23, but star Emily Blunt and director Rob Marshall presented a rough cut of scenes accompanied by a Disney orchestra.

In the footage, which was not made available to the public, there were sneak peeks of the characters played by Meryl Streep, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Dick Van Dyke, and Angela Lansbury.

“I needed to try to pay homage to Julie Andrews but carve out a new space for myself,” Blunt said of taking the role.

The film will be released Christmas 2018.

On the news front, Disney confirmed the development of a live-action “Mulan” film, a project with Dwayne Johnson called “Jungle Cruise,” and the start of production for “Dumbo,” from director Tim Burton, coming in 2019.

The studio showed off a replica of the Dumbo that will be featured in the live-action film, a blue-eyed elephant measuring 3.5 feet tall and 5.5 feet wide, that earned swooning from the audience.

The panel followed what was a slower news event on Friday.

At its animation presentation, Disney announced a couple of untitled projects, including a movie set in a suburban fantasy world about two teenage brothers hoping to spend one magical day with their late father.

The studio has several major features in the pipeline, previewing “Frozen 2,” “Incredibles 2” and “Toy Story 4.” A 21-minute featurette based on “Frozen,” “Olaf’s Frozen Adventure,” will also precede its next animated movie, “Coco,” which premieres this fall.


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