Why The Original Aladdin Writer Isn't Happy About The Remake

Aladdin, Apu, and Carpet in Aladdin

The first trailer for the upcoming remake of Aladdin has a lot of fans excited, but there's at least one person who is a bit frustrated by it. Terry Rossio helped write the screenplay for the original 1992 animated classic along with his frequent collaborator Ted Elliot. It turns out he's not as thrilled as he might be to see his work being given the live-action treatment. It seems that even though the remake is taking some elements literally word for word from the previous version, the original writers are getting no compensation for their work.

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As one would expect, many are curious why the creators of the original work get no compensation of any kind. In some followup tweets Ted Rossio explains that animated films are not covered by the Writer's Guild of America, and as such there's no structure in place for compensating the original writers of a work being remade. As such, all the writers get is whatever was agreed to at the time of the original contract, which, since nobody had conceived of the idea of doing live-action remakes back then, are not covered by the deal that was struck.

Rossio's comment about not even getting a pass to the park isn't even a joke. He says at one point in the thread that he literally did ask for a pass as compensation, it sounds like he and other writers have asked the studio for something in the past due to the comany's new focus on these remakes, but he was rebuffed.

The fact that the WGA doesn't cover the writers of animated films seeems like a significant oversight that should be adressed. While there are certainly differences between animated and live-action movies, the writing of the screenplay isn't really one of them. The script for the 1992 Aladdin could have been the script for the 2019 Aladdin and the writing process would not have changed for the writers.

With Disney having already turned several animated films into live action movies, with many more on the way, one wonders if Disney itself might blur the line enough for the WGA to take some action in this regard.

As far as Disney's lack of willingness to compensate the original writers goes, while the studio may not be contractually obligated to offer anything, it doesn't sound like anybody is asking for the world. One would think they could spare a few tickets to Disneyland for the writers and their families. They'll just end up buying merch and food anyway, Disney would still come out ahead on the deal.

For the record, while the IMDB page for the upcoming remake gives the four screenwriters of the original credit )Rossio and Elliot, along with directors John Musker and Ron Clements), the screenplay for the remake is credited to John August and director Guy Ritchie and nobody else.

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian. Armchair Imagineer. Epcot Stan. Future Club 33 Member.