Music by Alan Menken
Editing by Mark A. Hester
H. Lee Peterson
Distributed by Walt Disney Pictures
Release date(s) Limited:
November 11, 1992
November 25, 1992
Running time 90 min.
Country United States
Gross revenue $504,050,219
Followed by The Return of Jafar
Aladdin is a 1992 American animated feature produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released by Walt Disney Pictures. The 31st animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, the film is based on the Arab folktale of Aladdin and the magic lamp from One Thousand and One Nights. Several characters and plot elements are also based on the 1940 version of The Thief of Bagdad. Many aspects of the traditional story were changed for the film—for instance, the setting is changed from "China" to a fictional Arabian city, Agrabah. It was released at the peak stretch of the era known as the Disney Renaissance beginning with The Little Mermaid.
The film was directed by John Musker and Ron Clements, both of whom had just finished writing and directing The Little Mermaid (1989). The musical score was written by Alan Menken, with lyrics written by Howard Ashman and Tim Rice. Aladdin features the voices of Scott Weinger, Jonathan Freeman, Linda Larkin, Frank Welker, Gilbert Gottfried, Douglas Seale, and, as the Genie of the lamp, Robin Williams. Although this was not the first time in which a major actor such as Williams provided voice-over work for an animated film, it was the first major American animated feature film in which particular attention was paid to a celebrity voice cast member, such as a major movie star, in the film as part of its promotion. This has led to a subsequent increased attention to the casts of later productions, as a major element of animated film marketing. Aladdin was released on November 25, 1992 to positive reviews, and was the most successful film of 1992, earning over $217 million in revenue in the United States, and over $504 million worldwide. The film was followed by two direct-to-video sequels: The Return of Jafar (1994) and Aladdin and the King of Thieves (1996), and an animated television series, Aladdin, set between the two sequels.
In 1988, Howard Ashman suggested Disney make an animated musical adaptation of the story of Aladdin. After writing a story treatment and songs with partner Alan Menken,  a screenplay was written by Beauty and the Beast writer Linda Woolverton. Then directors John Musker and Ron Clements joined the film, picking Aladdin out of three projects offered, which also included an adaptation of Swan Lake and King of the Jungle - which eventually became The Lion King. Musker and Clements wrote a draft of the screenplay, delivered in 1991 to studio chief Jeffrey Katzenberg. Katzenberg thought the script "didn't engage", and only approved it after rewrites from the screenwriting duo of Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio. Among the changes to the script were the removal of the character of Aladdin's mother, Princess Jasmine made into a stronger character, Aladdin's personality was reworked to be "a little rougher, like a young Harrison Ford," and reworking the parrot Iago, originally conceived as a "British" calm and serious character, into a comic role after the filmmakers saw Gilbert Gottfried in Beverly Hills Cop II. Gottfried was cast to provide Iago's voice. Each character was animated alone, with the animators consulting each other to make scenes with interrelating characters. Since Aladdin's animator Glen Keane was working in the California branch of Walt Disney Feature Animation, and Jasmine's animator Mark Henn was in the Florida one in Disney-MGM Studios, they had to frequently phone, fax or send designs and discs to each other.
Style guide depicting the main characters. The animators designed each one based on a different geometrical shape.One of the first issues that the animators faced during production of Aladdin was the depiction of Aladdin himself. Director and producer John Musker explains:
“ In early screenings, we played with him being a little bit younger, and he had a mother in the story. [...] In design he became more athletic-looking, more filled out, more of a young leading man, more of a teen-hunk version than before. ”
He was initially going to be as young as 13, but that eventually changed to eighteen. Aladdin was designed by a team that included supervising animator Glen Keane, and was originally made to resemble actor Michael J. Fox. During production, it was decided that the design was too boyish and wasn't "appealing enough," so the character was redesigned to add elements derived from actor Tom Cruise, rapper MC Hammer, and Calvin Klein models.
Most characters' designs were based on the work of caricaturist Al Hirschfeld, which production designer Richard Vander Wende also considered appropriate to the theme, due to similarities to the swooping lines of Persian miniatures and Arabic calligraphy. Jafar's design was not based on Hirschfeld's work because Jafar's supervising animator, Andreas Deja, wanted the character to be contrasting.
For the scenery design, layout supervisor Rasoul Azadani took many pictures of his hometown of Isfahan, Iran. Other inspirations for design were Disney's animated films from the 1940s and 50s and the 1940 film The Thief of Bagdad. The coloring was done with the computerized CAPS process, and the color motifs were chosen according to the personality - the protagonists use light colors such as blue, the antagonists darker ones such as red and black, and Agrabah and its palace use the neutral color yellow. Computer animation was used in a number of scenes in the film, such as the tiger entrance of the Cave of Wonders and the scene where Aladdin tries to escape the collapsing cave.
Musker and Clements created the Genie with Robin Williams in mind; even though Katzenberg suggested actors such as John Candy, Steve Martin, and Eddie Murphy, Williams was approached and eventually accepted the role. Williams came for voice recording sessions during breaks in the shooting of two other films he was starring in at the time, Hook and Toys. Unusually for an animated film, much of Williams' dialogue was ad-libbed: for some scenes, Williams was given topics and dialogue suggestions, but allowed to improvise his lines. It was estimated that Williams improvised 52 characters. Eric Goldberg, the supervising animator for the Genie, then reviewed Williams' recorded dialogue and selected the best gags/lines. Goldberg and his crew then created character animation to match Williams' jokes, puns, and impersonations.
The producers added many in-jokes and references to Disney’s previous works in the film, such as a "cameo appearance" from directors Clements and Musker and drawing some characters based on Disney workers. Beast, Sebastian from The Little Mermaid, and Pinocchio make brief appearances, and the wardrobe of the Genie at the end of the film—Goofy hat, Hawaiian shirt, and sandals—are a reference to a short film that Robin Williams did for the Disney/MGM Studios tour in the late 80's.
Robin Williams' conflicts with the studio
In gratitude for his success with the Disney/Touchstone film Good Morning, Vietnam, Robin Williams voiced the Genie for SAG scale pay ($75,000), on condition that his name or image not be used for marketing, and his (supporting) character not take more than 25% of space on advertising artwork, since Toys was scheduled for release one month after Aladdin's debut. For financial reasons, the studio went back on the deal on both counts, especially in poster art by having the Genie in 25% of the image, but having other major and supporting characters portrayed considerably smaller. Disney's Hyperion book, Aladdin: The Making Of An Animated Film, listed both of Williams' characters "The Peddler" and "The Genie" ahead of main characters, but was forced to refer to him only as "the actor signed to play the Genie".
Williams and Disney had a bitter falling-out, and as a result Dan Castellaneta voiced the Genie in The Return of Jafar, the Aladdin animated television series, and had recorded his voice for Aladdin and the King of Thieves. When Jeffrey Katzenberg was fired from Disney and replaced by former 20th Century Fox production head Joe Roth (whose last act for Fox was greenlighting Williams' film Mrs. Doubtfire), Roth arranged for a public apology to Williams by Disney. Williams agreed to perform in Hollywood Pictures' Jack, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, and even agreed to voice the Genie again for the King Of Thieves sequel (for considerably more than scale), replacing all of Castellaneta's dialogue.
Main article: Aladdin (soundtrack)
Composer Alan Menken and songwriters Howard Ashman and Tim Rice were praised for creating a soundtrack that is "consistently good, rivaling the best of Disney's other animated musicals from the '90s." Menken and Ashman began work on the film together, with Rice taking over as lyricist after Ashman died of AIDS-related complications in early 1991. Although fourteen songs were written for Aladdin, only six are featured in the movie, three by each lyricist. The DVD Special Edition released in 2004 includes four songs in early animations tests, and a music video of one, "Proud of Your Boy", performed by Clay Aiken, which also appears on the album DisneyMania 3.
"The original story was sort of a winning the lottery kind of thing. When we got into it, particularly coming in at the end of the 1980's, it seemed like an Eighties 'greed is good' movie. (...)Like having anything you could wish for would be the greatest thing in the world and having it taken away from you is bad, but having it back is great. We didn't really want that to be the message of the movie"
The filmmakers thought the moral message of the original tale was not appropriate, and decided to "put a spin on it", by making the fulfillment of wishes seem like a great thing, but eventually becoming a problem. Other major themes include not trying to be what the person is not - both Aladdin and Jasmine get into trouble faking to be different people; the Prince Ali persona fails to impress Jasmine, who only falls for Aladdin when she finds out who he truly is - and being "enprisoned", a fate which occurs to most characters - Aladdin and Jasmine are stuck to their lifestyles, Genie is attached to his lamp and Jafar, to the Sultan - and is represented visually by the prison-like walls and bars of the Agrabah palace, and the scene involving caged birds which Jasmine later frees. Jasmine is also depicted as a different Disney Princess, being rebellious to the royal life and the social structure, and trying to make her own way, unlike the princesses who just wait for rescue
Aladdin grossed $19.2 million in its opening weekend, reaching number two at the box office — behind Home Alone 2: Lost In New York. It took eight weeks for the film to reach number one at the US box office, breaking the record for the week between Christmas and New Year's Eve with $32.2 million. The film held the top spot five times during its 22-week run. Aladdin was the most successful film of 1992 grossing $217 million in the United States and over $504 million worldwide. It was the biggest gross for an animated film until The Lion King two years later. As of 2009, it is the third highest grossing traditionally animated feature worldwide, behind The Lion King and The Simpsons Movie
Aladdin also received many award nominations, mostly for its music. It won two Academy Awards, Best Music, Original Score and Best Music, Original Song for "A Whole New World" and receiving nominations for Best Song ("Friend Like Me"), Best Sound Editing, and Best Sound. At the Golden Globes, Aladdin won Best Original Song ("A Whole New World") and Best Original Score, as well as a Special Achievement Award for Robin Williams, with a nomination for Best Motion Picture – Musical or Comedy. Other awards included the Annie Award for Best Animated Feature, a MTV Movie Award for Best Comedic Performance to Robin Williams, Saturn Awards for Best Fantasy Film, Performance by a Younger Actor to Scott Weinger and Supporting Actor to Robin Williams, the Best Animated Feature by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, and four Grammy Awards, Best Soundtrack Album, and Song of the Year, Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal and Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media for "A Whole New World"