On October 10, 2016, it was announced that Guy Ritchie would direct a live action Aladdin film with John August penning the screenplay for Walt Disney Pictures with Dan Lin attached as producer. The studio said that the film would be "an ambitious and nontraditional" take on the tale of Aladdin that would keep much of the musical elements of the original film.
On the non-traditional aspect, the studio planned for the film to be told in a nonlinear format.
In February 2017, Lin revealed about casting during an interview, saying that they were looking for a diverse cast and that they would not try "to make Prince of Persia". A worldwide casting call for the lead roles of Aladdin and Princess Jasmine commenced in March 2017, with principal production set to begin in the UK in July 2017 until January 2018. On April 19, 2017, it was reported that either Gabriel Iglesias or Will Smith was in talks for the role of Genie, for which the latter was confirmed in July.In May 2017, it was revealed that Jade Thirlwall was in talks for the part of Princess Jasmine.
On July 11, 2017, it was revealed that principal production on Aladdin had been pushed back by a month, to August 2017, due to struggles in finding the right actor to portray the titular role. It was revealed that over 2,000 actors and actresses had auditioned for the roles of Aladdin and Jasmine but that finding a male lead of Middle-Eastern or Indian descent in his 20s who could act and sing had proven difficult. Naomi Scott and Tara Sutaria were revealed to be the final two actresses in the running for the role of Jasmine, but neither could be cast until a chemistry test was done with whomever was cast as Aladdin.
The studio was interested in casting Dev Patel or Riz Ahmed for the lead role of Aladdin, but neither were considered likely to obtain the role. In what became the final rounds of screen testing, actors Achraf Koutet, Mena Massoud, and George Kosturos were still in the running for the role of Aladdin. However, the studio had begun perusing old audition tapes for the role, having not been satisfied by the latest round of screen tests.
At the 2017 D23 Expo, on July 15, it was announced that Massoud had been cast as Aladdin and Scott had been cast as Jasmine, ending a four month long open casting call. On July 17, 2017, it was revealed that Disney had hired Vanessa Taylor to polish the original screenplay by August, specifically to do some "character work" and what is called "script doctoring". Meanwhile, Richie
and the studio focused on casting the other main roles with filming slated to start in August in London. In August 2017, Marwan Kenzari joined the cast as Jafar with Nasim Pedrad cast in a newly created role as "a hand maid and friend of Jasmine" who will serve as a "comic relief" and Numan Acar as Hakim.The following month, Billy Magnussen joined the cast in a newly created role as Prince Anders alongside Navid Negahban as the Sultan.
About her role as Jasmine, Scott speculated that the character "will be strong and have fun, but also get it wrong and be emotional. She's a multidimensional woman, and she doesn't have to just be one thing. So in this movie, you see her go on such a roller coaster, as opposed to her one goal being to fall in love or get married." When asked about Ritchie's take on the movie, Pasek & Paul described it as "very muscular and action-packed".Despite initial reports, the animal characters Abu the monkey, Iago the parrot, and Rajah the tiger from the original Disney movie will be appearing in some capacity.