‘Wish Dragon’: How to Bring an Animated ‘Aladdin’ Back to China

When visual development artist Chris Appelhans (“Coraline”) realized that “Aladdin” was originally a Chinese folk tale while visiting Shanghai 20 years ago, he had an aha moment about writing and directing an animated genie-in-a-bottle retelling set in modern Shanghai.

The result is “Wish Dragon” (streaming Friday on Netflix), an American-Chinese co-production with Sony Pictures Animation, in which working-class college student, Din (Jimmy Wong), teams up with pink, fluffy, snarky genie, Long (John Cho), to reunite with his long-lost childhood friend, Lina (Natasha Liu Bordizzo), now a famous model.As Appelhans watched a friend in Shanghai “struggling with family and class and concepts of success, it seemed like that timeless [‘Aladdin’] story… about a peasant boy who lives with his mother, meets a wish-granting genie, falls in love with a princess, loses himself, and finds himself again, could have newfound relevance today,” he said.

“It made me think a lot about the world.

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