The question has finally been answered and yes, Will Smith's Genie will rap in Aladdin. Those in attendance at CinemaCon were shown some brand new footage from the upcoming live-action remake, which is directed by Guy Ritchie. This included an entire, key sequence from the movie, which will be very familiar to those who are fans of the 1992 animated classic. The response to the footage was divided amongst those who were in attendance, with some being impressed, while others calling it nightmare fuel.
Disney decided to show off the scene where Aladdin, played by Mena Massoud, is sent into the Cave of Wonders to retrieve the magic lamp for Jafar, as portrayed by Marwan Kenzari. Our hero does accomplish his goal and unleashes Will Smith's Genie. This then leads to the musical number, Friend Like Me, which was originally performed by the late, great Robin Williams in the animated movie. Smith reportedly puts on a show, using multiple voices and forcing Aladdin to dance. And amazingly, he even beatboxes a bit. Clearly, they're trying to lean into the actor's strengths here.
From day one, a great deal of whether or not this movie was going to succeed or fail was riding on who was cast to play Genie, given how beloved Robin Williams' version of the character was. Will Smith is as big as stars come and has more charisma than he knows what to do with at times. Unfortunately, his Genie has been a major topic of discussion, largely not positive, ever since the first photos were released. People were unimpressed, to put it nicely, when first seeing him all CGI-ed up and blue. Based on the response coming out of CinemaCon, people are also going to be rather divided when it comes to his ability to carry a musical number.
The CinemaCon crowd was also shown some additional footage, which featured the magic carpet sequence, showcasing a bit more of Naomi Scott as Princess Jasmine. There is also apparently a scene where Iago the parrot becomes quite large and chases people through the street. Overall, it sounds like this movie is going to be grand in scale, with Guy Ritchie swinging for the fences. Whether or not that's a good thing, when it all comes together, remains to be seen.
Disney has had a lot of luck with these live-action remakes in recent years, with movies like Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, The Jungle Book and Beauty and the Beast proving to be huge hits at the box office. But Dumbo stumbled a bit recently. Will this be next? We won't have to wait all that long to find out, as Disney is set to release Aladdin in theaters on May 24. Feel free to check out some of the other reactions to the footage from CinemaCon below.
We just saw the full “Never Had a Friend Like Me” sequence from ALADDIN and I don’t really know how to describe it except to say that it was a LOT.— Scott Wampler™ @ CinemaCon (@ScottWamplerBMD) April 3, 2019
#Aladdin preview & musical shown at #CinemaCon. visually it looks grand but yet dull and it just looks very very bad some how they didn't get the look right, everything looks so polished and it looks more like forced than natural.— Television & Movies (@TvsNmovies) April 3, 2019
Got to see "Friend Like Me" in its entirety from ALADDIN. Great choreography and moves from Will Smith & @MenaMassoud. Could be a star-making performance for Massoud. @NaomiScott looks great too. #CinemaCon— Rohan Patel (@KingPatel7) April 3, 2019
#TheLionKing and #Aladdin showed off recreations of two famous scenes: "Friend Like Me" and "Everything the light touches." I continue to see why these live-action remakes make so much money, and also to be disappointed at how pointless they seem as creative endeavors. #CinemaCon— Angie J. Han (@ajhan) April 3, 2019
ALADDIN. Looks. SO. BAD.— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) April 3, 2019
Based on the Disney #CinemaCon footage of "Aladdin" musical comedy does not come naturally to Guy Ritchie.— Brent Lang (@BrentALang) April 3, 2019
New look at ALADDIN includes full performance of "Friend Like Me" (including Will Smith briefly beat-boxing). I'm going to be honest: it is pure nightmare fuel. It just looks ... unnatural. The #CinemaCon audience liked it, though. Wishful thinking, I guess.— Barry Hertz (@HertzBarry) April 3, 2019
Wow the updated #Aladdin footage from CinemaCon is so much stronger than the earlier BTS stuff. Proves that post and VFX is everything on live-action adaptations. Had more personality than effects-heavy "Be Our Guest" number, which was flat, in hindsight.— Matt Donnelly (@MattDonnelly) April 3, 2019