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".
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.
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:
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 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.
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 named Jafar who schemes for power (and tries to forcibly possess a princess).
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."
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".
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."
Secondnd 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.
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.
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.).