Robin Williams Stops ‘Aladdin’ Prequel from Beyond the Grave
When Disney announced that they were produced a prequel to their beloved 1992 animated classic Aladdin, we were skeptical. Disney’s updated reboots to their classic properties have been really hit or miss (in that Cinderella was good and the rest of them sucked), but beyond that, going into production on a follow-up to one of Robin Williams’ most cherished films less than one year after the actor’s tragic death was arguably in poor taste. Surely, this project was the very definition of “too soon.”
Well, guess what? Robin Williams agrees. A new report from Vanity Fair reveals that Disney was planning to use Williams’ many outtakes from the original Aladdin in the upcoming prequel, but that a provision in the actor’s will prevents Disney from exploiting that work until 25 years after his death. As such, the production on the prequel has reportedly been halted.
It’s as if all of our wishes have suddenly come true.
Look, we were genuinely trying to be diplomatic about the idea of an Aladdin prequel when it was first announced, largely because we assumed that Williams would simply be replaced in his lead role as the wisecracking genie. We were willing to give the film a fair shake. But the fact that Disney not only planned to use Williams’ outtakes, but planned to use so much of that material that the movie cannot exist with it, is disturbing.
Robin Williams wasn’t terribly comfortable with being franchised. He even turned down the first Aladdin sequel flat (although he did admittedly agree to star in the third feature, Aladdin and the King of Thieves). So building an entire new movie out of his work from a previous film, a movie that Robin Williams would never have been able to agree to – on account of being dead – is not the sort of production that we, or anyone else, should be supporting with a clear conscience. And if it’s true that Disney was so committed to exploiting Robin Williams’ work that they won’t make an Aladdin prequel unless they can do so, that’s a problem.
Granted, it’s entirely possible that Disney didn’t view the project this way, and that they fully intended to use this material as some sort of “love letter” to Robin Williams’ original, classic performance. But apparently Williams himself disagreed in sheer principle, so much so that he put his protests in his will, which will legally prevent Disney from doing anything new with his likeness or performances until 2039.
We respect his wishes, and we hope Disney does too.
William Bibbiani (everyone calls him ‘Bibbs’) is Crave’s film content editor and critic. You can hear him every week on The B-Movies Podcast and watch him on the weekly YouTube series Most Craved and What the Flick. Follow his rantings on Twitter at @WilliamBibbiani.