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Agrabah, Port city at the crossroads of East & West... Set Decorator Tina Jones SDSA International brings us vivid recollections of the making of this musical wonder! “Agrabah was such a great set to create. Production Designer Gemma Jackson and I went on a buying/research trip to Marrakesh and were inspired by the traders who still operated in the same way they had been doing for hundreds of years. We also found great inspiration from a group of Victorian painters called ’The Orientalists’ who chronicled their early travels to the Middle East and North Africa...” Jasmine [Naomi Scott], Aladdin [Mena Massoud] Photo by Daniel Smith ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

ALADDIN

June 30th, 2019


Set Decorator
Tina Jones SDSA

Production Designer
Gemma Jackson

Walt Disney Studios


ALADDIN is a thrilling and vibrant live-action adaptation of Disney Studios animated classic, which is the exciting tale of charming street rat Aladdin [Mena Massoud], the courageous and self-determined Princess Jasmine [Naomi Scott] and the Genie [Will Smith] who may be the key to their future.
                                             -- Disney Studios
 
 
The magical spell of ALADDIN...
The live action musical is still in the top 5 films at the box office six weeks after its release! And now, we are able to reveal set photos and concept drawings, as well as glimpses from the actual film!
 
Production Designer Gemma Jackson and Set Decorator Tina Jones SDSA International once again teamed up with Director Guy Ritchie, but this was a first for the three: a Disney musical! They had just finished the action saga KING ARTHUR, when they jumped into the fantasy extravaganza based on a story from 1001 ARABIAN NIGHTS. Ritchie had felt Jackson and Jones, who had won an Emmy award for GAME OF THRONES, were a perfect fit for the medieval tale, and then was certain that they would bring depth and substance to the fabulous fable...which of course, they did...above and beyond!
 
“We made a decision early on to root this world in some expression of Middle Eastern culture that, simultaneously, had elements of a contemporary multi-cultural universe. The challenge was getting the balance right so it felt authentic,” Ritchie reveals.
 
The mythical Agrabah sits at the crossroads of East and West, its capital a trading center port city, with teeming streets and hidden byways. The labyrinthine city provides an intricate showcase for the film’s two largest musical productions, as well leading to the Sultan’s opulent palace sitting on its outskirts and the desert and mystical cave beyond.

Badia Design
 
Jackson and Jones, with their teams, created the city as a gateway to the Eastern world, vibrant, colorful, and full of life. Since Agrabah is on the Silk Road, where cultural influences from other regions could be found, their inspiration came from Moroccan, Persian and Byzantine architecture and history, and featured elements of Arab, Indian and South Asian cultures.
 
The massive Agrabah set was built outdoors on a tarmac the size of two football fields at Longcross Studios in the UK. The courtyards, market stalls, narrow alleys and cluttered rooftops were designed to accommodate the extensive choreography and stunts. Disney Studios notes: “Set decoration for Agrabah included fabrics, textiles and carvings similar to those found in Marrakesh, colorful woods, metals, fruits and vegetables, crafts of every sort, and a 1,000-year-old olive tree.” 
 
Executive ProducerJonathan Eirich points out, “When you walked around that set, you could bask in the textures and the colors, and experience all the different types of people and languages and animals...it was just a magical world.”  
 
Mena Massoud, who plays Aladdin, adds, “There was an entire marketplace, a bazaar, someone making Turkish Delights, someone selling lamps, someone making scarves...it was insane! As were the palace and the Cave of Wonders!”
 
 
Editor’s note: 
Check the gallery above for illuminating details and sets within sets...rose petals, dye vats, crafts makers, palatial trappings, a bejeweled cave...and lovely insider notes from Set Decorator Tina Jones SDSA International
 



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Agrabah, Port city at the crossroads of East & West... “The mood on set was such a positive one ! We had so many cultures & languages being spoken and everyone was visibly happy to be involved in such a great project. Weather wasn't always what we hoped for, but the atmosphere was perfect!” Naomi Scott, Mena Massoud Photo by Daniel Smith ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Concept drawing: Agrabah bazaar... “The concept art for the environments were all generated by the Art Department – Gemma had such a great team. We provided them with many of our set research and prop images, which helped create the authenticity of the images...” Courtesy of Disney Enterprises ©2019. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah bazaar – lamp shop... “This was very much a work in progress, but was to become the lamp shop where Abu [Aladdin’s pet monkey] retrieves the magic lamp...” Photo by Chris Raphael ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah bazaar – rose petals... “When in Marrakesh gathering ideas, we thought it would look rather wondrous for one of the Aladdin chase scenes to involve running through beautiful rose petals. We tried lots of options: painting real petals, paper ones (not wise with the English unpredictable weather) and fake silk petals, which we eventually settled on...a laborious job for our wonderful prop men who had to separate them all to allow the free fluttering movement in the wind machine...” Photo by Daniel Smith ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah bazaar... “We purchased a huge amount of rugs, brass candle lamps and other decoration elements from Morocco. A lot of our color references and ideas for street decoration were inspired by Marrakesh...” Photo by Chris Raphael ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah bazaar... Aladdin and a disguised Jasmine deal with a market merchant... Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott Photo by Daniel Smith ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah... ...and then have to escape! Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott Photo by Daniel Smith ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah... “This was such a fabulous set to dress! It was such an exciting brief to be given: 'As much texture and colour as you can find'...” Photo by Daniel Smith ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah, craftsmaking courtyard... The massive Agrabah set was built at Longcross Studios in the UK, on a tarmac the size of two football fields in just 15 weeks. Everything about the layout...from the Marrakesh pink and blue walls, the courtyards and market stalls to the narrow alleys and cluttered rooftops...was designed to accommodate filming of the musical numbers. Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott Photo by Daniel Smith ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah, craftsmaking courtyard... Executive Producer Dan Lin points out, “There was a logic behind every single building placement, the direction each street turned and the way each house was oriented because of the intricately designed musical numbers and action scenes...” Photo by Chris Raphael ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Agrabah... Still eluding pursuers through the labyrinthine streets and alleyways... Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott Photo by Daniel Smith ©2019 Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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Concept drawing: The Broken Tower... The clever street urchin Aladdin has made his home in a derelict tower... Courtesy of Disney Enterprises ©2019. All Rights Reserved.



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