Most moviegoers were more than a little shocked when it was announced that Guy Ritchie would be directing the upcoming live-action take on the 1992 Disney classic Aladdin.
Ritchie has spent his career working in the crime, comedy, and gangster genres, overseeing the likes of “Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels,” “Snatch,” “RocknRolla,” “Sherlock Holmes,” “The Man From U.N.C.L.E,” and “King Arthur: Legend Of The Sword.”
So when I sat down with Justin Paul and Benj Pasek to talk about their work on “The Greatest Showman,” I also decided to quiz the composers on collaborating with Ritchie on “Aladdin.” The duo are writing lyrics for new “Aladdin” songs that have been once again been composed by Alan Menken, who won the 1992 Oscar for Best Song for “A Whole New World.”
After I pointed out that it was a little surprising that Ritchie had been brought onboard to direct “Aladdin,” Justin Paul admitted he himself was a little taken aback at first, responding, “Right? It is really interesting. We have gotten to have some interactions and back and forth with him.”
Paul then went on to insist that collaborating with Alan Menken in particular was a “dream come true,” declaring, “We are writing lyrics for the new songs with Alan Menken’s music, so obviously that’s an incredibly exciting collaboration. A childhood dream come true for us. I think we would have paid to sit in a room with Alan Menken. We all had some very funny Skype sessions across the pond with Guy and had some sessions in London together.”
Paul then went back to talking about Ritchie, admitting that his lack of a musical background has actually helped to “shake things up,” before then providing more information on the English filmmaker’s take on the character.
“It is really interesting because he doesn’t come from a place of a big deep background in musicals. And that’s sometimes really cool and a great way to shake things up. His take on ‘Aladdin’ is very muscular and action-packed, and that’s a very cool energy and point of view to bring into the mix.”
“Because we can get stuck in our musical theatre character world. Going, ‘They sing this, and they say it that way.’ And he’s like, ‘It’s got to look great. It’s got to be fun.’ I think hopefully it is a fun meeting of two worlds.”
At this point, Benj Pasek then explained why Ritchie directing “Aladdin” is the perfect combination, remarking, “Guy Ritchie is a great storyteller and he really understands music, so it totally makes sense,” before Justin Paul chimed in with, “Rhythmically there is always a current to his films, too.”
We’ll get to see if the pair are right when “Aladdin” is released on May 24, 2019.