Disney did not get the response they were hoping for when they unveiled their first look at Will Smith as the Aladdin Genie. Social media exploded after seeing Smith take on the CGI role that Robin Williams made famous in the animated classic from the early 1990s and it was not a positive explosion. Many were flat out scared of what Guy Ritchie had come up with for the Genie look and it ended up creating quite a few memes in the process. Upon looking back, Will Smith and Ritchie think some of the backlash was kind of funny.
It's a lot easier for news to spread these days with the internet, especially bad news or anything with negativity attached. The new Aladdin Genie was one of those things and it felt like it was just getting worse as time went on. However, Disney argued that the CGI work wasn't 100% finished at the time of the first big reveal, which still didn't stop social media from piling on. Will Smith had this to say about the situation.
"It was very funny. There was a Sonic the Hedgehog / Genie frog. Everything is under such critical scrutiny. I came up in an era where there was no internet. It's a new thing that I'm trying to get a handle on."
For Guy Ritchie, it was also a new experience. However, the director believes that the public perception of Will Smith's Aladdin Genie changed for the better when the full-length trailer was released in March. Regardless, we won't know the true response to the movie until it's released next month. Ritchie claims fans have been apologizing to him since the full trailer dropped. He explains.
"It even came with apologies from the cynics who were so adamant initially. I've never seen apologies in that world. I thought, 'Oh well, great, we're back to where I'd hoped we'd be.'"
It doesn't really seem like the public reaction to the live-action Aladdin has changed all that much since last month. In fact, it may have gotten even worse with the footage shown at CinemaCon a few weeks ago. More than one person in attendance called the "Friend Like Me" scene "nightmare fuel," which is right in line with what social media has been saying ever since Will Smith's Genie was revealed. Disney says the footage shown at the event was still not 100% finished.
Aladdin hits theaters on May 24th, so the studio may want to hurry up and show off the 100% finished version of Will Smith's Genie, although it looks like we've already seen him more than once. Smith is bringing his personality to the project and offering a fresh take on the character, which should be judged after the movie has been seen, not before it. However, social media is still having a good time making fun of the live-action Aladdin. The interview with Will Smith and Guy Ritchie was originally conducted by Empire.