Sir Patrick Stewart campaigned for the role of Jafar. He had previously turned down the role in Aladdin (1992) and has regretted it ever since.
This film has been homaged in two previous Disney live-action films: The Jungle Book (2016) the genie's lamp was spotted in King Louie's temple. Beauty and the Beast (2017) a model of Agrabah castle appeared during "Be Our Guest".
There were rumors that Gilbert Gottfried would be reprising his role as Iago from the original franchise. However, it was later confirmed that Alan Tudyk would be taking up the role.
Guy Ritchie was primarily interested in doing the film because it was the Disney story he was closest to: "My stories are really about street hustlers. That's what I know how to do. And Aladdin is a classic street hustler who makes good." He also decided to do a children's film for his five children.
Production had originally been scheduled to begin in July 2017, but got delayed due to Disney having trouble finding the right people to play Aladdin and Jasmine.
The filmmakers took an extensive casting call to find actors of the right ethnicity for the film, having an Arabian setting. In the end, the cast comprised of actors of Arab/Middle Eastern/Central Asian/Southern Asian descent: Egyptian-Canadian actor Mena Massoud (Aladdin) Anglo-Indian actress Naomi Scott (Jasmine) Dutch-Tunisian actor Marwan Kenzari (Jafar) Iranian-American actors Navid Negahban (the Sultan) and Nasim Pedrad (Dalia) Turkish-German actor Numan Acar (Hakim).
Smith said that he was "terrified" while playing the character, but that "[he] found a lane that pays homage" to Robin Williams' performance in the original film, while still making the role "[his] own thing".
Mena Massoud (Aladdin) was born in 1992, the year the original animated Aladdin (1992) was released.
Will Smith was offered to play Holt Farrier in Dumbo (2019) but decided to star in this film instead. This makes him the second actor to choose a live-action remake of a Disney Renaissance film over a live-action adaptation of a Walt Disney animated movie. Emma Watson was offered the titular role in Cinderella (2015) but chose to play Belle in Beauty and the Beast (2017) instead. Also, Danny DeVito was offered to play Maurice in Beauty and the Beast (2017) but chose to play Max Medici in Dumbo (2019) instead.
Guy Ritchie originally thought of shooting in Morocco for Agrabah, but decided against it and went with designing Agrabah as an original location.
This is Alan Tudyk's eighth Disney film, after Wreck-It Ralph (2012) (King Candy/Turbo), Frozen (2013) (the Duke of Weselton), Big Hero 6 (2014) (Alistair Krei), Zootopia (2016) (Duke Weaselton), Moana (2016) (Heihei the Chicken) Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016) (K-2SO), and Ralph Breaks the Internet (2018) (KnowsMore). It's also his fifth one as a villain and second as a bird.
Guy Ritchie chose Will Smith to be Genie because he believed Smith could give a performance as good as the late Robin Williams, but not similar: "Just the flavor of the character would be different enough and unique enough that it would be in a different lane, versus trying to compete."
Genie's appearance is mainly based on his blue shackled appearance in Aladdin (1992), but also draws from his appearances across various adaptations of "Aladdin". For instance, Genie's blue suit as Prince Ali's servant is based on James Monroe Iglehart's appearance in the "Aladdin" Broadway musical.
Jim Carrey was the original choice for the Genie but at the time he was involved in a much publicized lawsuit so couldn't commit to any long term work.
Naomi Scott is the second Anglo-Indian actress to play Jasmine, after Karen David in Once Upon a Time (2011).
Production designer Gemma Jackson drew inspiration from Moroccan, Persian, and Turkish cultures, Victorian paintings, and Iznik ceramics for the design of Agrabah.
Agrabah in this film is portrayed as a port city, while in Aladdin (1992) it is said to be situated at the Jordan River.
This is Disney's second live-action adaptation of a Middle Eastern tale, after Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010). Both the Prince of Persia and Aladdin sagas feature an evil vizier who schemes for power (and tries to forcibly possess a princess).
Nasim Pedrad, who plays Jasmine's maid Dalia, had previously played Jasmine in an episode of Saturday Night Live featuring Saturday Night Live: Lindsay Lohan/Jack White (2012) as host/musical guest, respectively.
Frank Welker reprises his roles as Abu and the Cave of Wonders from the original film, making him the first cast member from a Disney animated feature to play the same character(s) in the live-action remake.
Will Smith based his role as Genie on his 1990s roles (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Mike Lowrey, Steven Hiller, Agent J): "There hasn't been a lot of that hip-hop flavor in Disney history, so I think it'll stand out as unique even in the Disney world."
In January 2018, it was reported that the white extras were being applied with brown make-up during filming in order to "blend in" which caused an outcry among fans and critics.
Dutch actor Achraf Koutet and American actor George Kosturos had tested for the role of Aladdin before Canadian actor Mena Massoud was cast.
The production crew based Genie's look on 1970s parents: "He's big enough to feel like a force - not muscular, but formidable enough that you knew when he was in the room."
This is Billy Magnussen's second live-action Disney film, after Into the Woods (2014) where he also played a prince.
Principal photography began on September 6, 2017, at Longcross Studios in Surrey, England, and wrapped on January 24, 2018. Part of the film was shot in Wadi Rum Desert, Jordan. Reshoots took place during August 2018. In January 2018, it was reported that the white extras were being applied brown make-up during filming in order to "blend in", which caused an outcry and condemnation among fans and critics, branding the practice as "an insult to the whole industry" while accusing the producers of not recruiting people with Middle-Eastern or North African heritage. Disney responded to the controversy, saying, "Diversity of our cast and background performers was a requirement and only in a handful of instances when it was a matter of specialty skills, safety and control (special effects rigs, stunt performers and handling of animals) were crew made up to blend in."
Will Smith and Alan Tudyk were both in I, Robot (2004) in addition to this they both collaborated with Jack Black in Enemy of the State (1998), Shark Tale (2004), and Ice Age (2002).
Mena Massoud was born a year before Aladdin (1992) and Naomi Scott was born a year after it.
Alan Tudyk's third time voice acting in a live-action film after Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked (2011) and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story (2016), the prior of which is made by Walt Disney Pictures.
The second live action adaptation of a Disney animated feature film where all characters that had American accents in the original film retain them rather than be changed to British accents, following The Jungle Book (2016). This does not include Christopher Robin (2018) where only Pooh Bear, Tigger and Eeyore retained their American accents, same said for Dumbo (2019) where all the characters who have spoken dialogue did not appear in the original film and since none of the animal characters speak due to the film's change of perspective.
Terry Rossio criticized the remake for not crediting him, Ted Elliott and directors John Musker and Ron Clements. Hopefully, the oversight has been fixed by now.
The visual effects were provided by Industrial Light & Magic and supervised by Michael Mullholland, Daniele Bigi, and David Seager with the help of Hybride Technologies, DNEG, Nzviage, and Proof.
Will Smith (Genie) also starred the film "The Pursuit of Happyness" alongside Dan Castellaneta (the voice of Homer Simpson), who also played the Genie in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar, the Aladdin TV series, Disney's House of Mouse, and in the video game Kingdom Hearts.
The third Guy Ritchie film to be both shot with digital cameras and Filmed in Panavision (anamorphic), after The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (2015) and King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017).
Though a different incarnation of the character, this is the first time that Iago is voiced by someone other then Gilbert Gottfried, after having previously voiced the character's original animated counterpart in all appearances prior (films, TV, video games, etc.).
This film features one Academy Award nominee: Will Smith. Will Smith was nominated for Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for the films tt024866 and The Pursuit of Happyness (2006).