The streaming world was recently uplifted by a delightful surprise from Disney as they released their much-anticipated 100th-anniversary short on Disney Plus. The short film titled Once Upon a Studio is one-of-a-kind, in that it weaves together a series of unforgettable characters from Disney's vast array of classics, including the much-loved character, Genie, originally voiced by late actor Robin Williams.
Since the beloved actor's untimely demise in 2014, this is the first-time audiences will hear his voice as the Genie again. However, contrary to what some might think, Williams' voice was not recreated using artificial intelligence (AI). Producer Bradford Simonsen confirmed this in an interview with Variety, explaining that the incorporation of Williams as the Genie involved a careful, considerate process that started with contacting his estate.
Simonsen shared that he approached the estate in an effort to portray their intention accurately: to recreate Robin Williams' Genie because of what it means to the fans. The process was tedious. Dan Abraham, the director, sifted through outtakes from Williams' original recording to identify snippets that could be used in the short film. Upon gaining the estate's approval, the team took forward the beloved character of the Genie, a procedure that was beautifully supported by Eric Goldberg, who had animated the original Genie in the film Aladdin.
Once Upon a Studio is an assembly of Disney’s rich tapestry of characters, who come together to capture a group photograph for the celebration of Disney Animation Studios' centennial year. Adventurous, whimsical, and dazzling with familiar voices, this film saw numerous actors reprising their signature Disney roles. Some notable names included Jeremy Irons as the infamous Scar, Idina Menzel gracing the role of the icy queen Elsa, and Jodi Benson voicing the ever-dreamy Ariel.
The animation studio's future is illuminated with promising projects. Leading the league is an upcoming film, Wish, that wondrously tells the tale of a courageous girl named Asha voiced by Ariana DeBose. Depicting her journey, the film will see Asha battling a menacing ruler to save her kingdom, with the aid of a talking wishing star. The much-awaited movie Wish is set to brighten theaters this coming November 22.
While the fans await Disney’s upcoming cinematic adventures, they can bask in the nostalgic and warm charm of Once Upon a Studio which is currently available on Disney+. The short film serves as a delightful treat for Disney fans across the globe and a fitting tribute to Robin Williams' unforgettable magic that echoes in his voice, ensuring Williams' authentic spark rekindles Disney's enchanting universe without resorting to the use of AI technology.
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