In four months, up to 2,000 actors and actresses have auditioned and yet, the Disney studio hasn’t found its perfect lead pair for its live action Aladdin musical. Disney and director Guy Ritchie launched a massive casting call in March, with casting directors from Abu Dhabi, Egypt, India and London joining the team to find the right Aladdin and Jasmine. They were looking for a male lead in his twenties, of Indian or Middle Eastern descent, who could act and sing. Production was scheduled to begin by July, but, so far, a lead pair has not been announced.

Among the frontrunners were reportedly Riz Ahmed (34) and Dev Patel (27) for the role of Aladdin, but the studio apparently wants to recruit a newcomer. Will Smith has been confirmed as the genie, while the search for an actor to play the villainous Jafar is still on.

Disney has previously faced widespread criticism for casting white actors in non-white roles, most notably in the case of the entire cast of Prince of Persia: The Sands Of Time (2010). The casting conundrum has elicited a wide range of responses on Twitter, with many expressing concerns that Disney might ultimately succumb to the whitewashing that it wants to overcome.

In the past, Disney’s lengthy casting searches led to newbies Lily James playing Cinderella and Daisy Ridley starring as Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Their recent live action adaptations of their animated classics have raked in box office gold. While Cinderella (2015) earned $543.5 million worldwide, Maleficent (2015) and Beauty And The Beast (2017) earned $758.5 million and $1.3 billion respectively.