Despite the fact that there was another animated Aladdin sequel on the table at Disney, it looks like the project will be stalled for a couple decades, and honestly, we’re okay with that, especially given the reason behind it.
The “fourth” movie was most likely an animated short composed of new drawings and the leftover dialogue that Robin Williams provided that went unused when the original film (and its sequels) were made.
As you know, the iconic character of Genie was voiced by the inimitable Robin Williams, who passed sadly in 2014, leaving a huge hole in our collective heart! No one but Robin Williams could voice Genie in an animated sequel, and we wouldn’t want anyone else to try. But even though there is some leftover voiceover dialogue recorded back in 1991 by Robin Williams, Disney is not allowed to use it.
So why is that?
Well first, we have to understand how the character of Genie was created, and how Robin Williams himself functioned as a voice actor. Instead of reading from a script like most other actors do for a voiceover part in an animated film, Williams went into the studio and improvised so much of his character’s dialogue that only a portion of which was actually used.
In fact, Robin was so prolific with his jokes that not only are there plenty of extra jokes that were never used, but also, whole scenes had to be reanimated to suit the extra dialogue. Williams was nothing if not hysterically funny, and unlimited in his creativity.
A Disney executive described Williams’ method in the Sunday Times:
“When he was on form, the hyperactive motormouth we love from ‘Good Morning Vietnam’ and ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’ was making 30 jokes a minute. Now, because he insisted on a final say on such material, [the jokes] will remain in the vaults.”
So even though we’ve got all these extra jokes and bits of dialogue, Disney isn’t allowed to use them for a full 25 years after his death, according to a stipulation in his will. Disney is prohibited from using his name, taped performances, or voice recordings for two and a half decades, in order to protect his family from estate penalties that may occur due to his posthumous income.
Honestly, we’re not that disappointed. The legacy of Robin Williams should be preserved, and his memory honored. Using his recorded jokes for a new project seems disrespectful somehow, and a little bit morbid. It’s best to scrap (or delay) a fourth animated installment to the Aladdin series, and pay proper homage to the amazing actor and person that Robin Williams was.
And of course, the two live-action movies based on the story of Aladdin are still very much in production, and since we’re seeing so many of our childhood animated favorites get a live-action makeover, the story of Aladdin will not be overlooked. But even though that’s the case, I’m sure we all wish Robin Williams were still around to play Genie.