‘Aladdin’ and the enchantment of Disney’s poster art
I come from a small town in Massachusetts, where the only movie theater we had was called Flick 1 & 2. As you can probably deduce, that means there were only two screens, so we only really got the newest releases in pairs selected about as consciously as Noah with his fabled ark. (I imagine the theater manager throwing darts at the wall to decide which movies to bring in.) However, the town was just dull enough that this rotation became very important to me, and so on those magical days when my father would announce that we were going to see a movie, I’d stuff my pants full of the snacks my mom made, and eagerly look forward to seeing the posters teasing upcoming features I would then beg my father to take me to next.
The first movie poster that I remember obsessing over was for the 1992 Disney animated film Aladdin. This is likely due to the fact that one of the most frequently played VHS in our house at the time was a bunch of taped-from-TV programs, including this really old animated re-telling of Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves, and at 9, I adored this story.
So, Disney had me basically just because of the parallel between the names, and if I thought “Open Sesame” was magic, just imagine how my eyes widened after they focused on the golden lamp and its suggestion of a genie that seemed much different from the one who so enchanted me when I snuck out to watch “Nick at Night.” And then, of course, the tag line with all its potential for musing.
Disney posters are works of art, and this has not changed even in recent times when plenty of people only glance at the poster as a thumbnail to the movie they are about to stream. If you need proof, check out this gallery of iconic Disney posters from their early days, right up to Frozen: