Sinbad was everywhere in the ’90s, starring in popular comedies like Jingle All The Way and First Kid. But in recent years his most talked-about movie is one that may never have even existed. “Shazaam” is a movie that has dominated discussions, debates, and arguments between 90’s kids. Some swear that they watched the movie featuring Sinbad as a genie. While others insist it simply isn’t real. Join us as we delve into the madness and confusion of a movie… that never existed.
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If you grew up in the 90’s you most likely had an amazing childhood. Why wouldn’t you? The ’90s were all that and a bag of chips… Did we really use to say that? Anyway… It’s true! The ’90s had baggy clothes and AOL. They saw the release of the Sony PlayStation, the Nintendo 64, and Gameboy. And they had the best movies. I’m talking about Jurassic Park, The Matrix, Pulp Fiction, Goodfellas, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, The Big Lebowski, and Shazaam!
Except… this movie never existed. It was never filmed, never released, and never seen by anybody. But that doesn’t stop a large percentage of 90s kids from believing that it was… from somehow having memories of watching a movie that they could not have possibly watched. According to these believers, Shazaam is supposed to have starred 90’s sensation Sinbad as a bumbling genie who is accidentally summoned by two children during a time of grief.
The idea sounds plausible. Sinbad was everywhere in the ’90s. In 1996 alone the comedian, whose real name is David Adkins, starred in Homeward Bound 2: Lost in San Francisco, First Kid, Jingle All The Way, and The Cherokee Kid. So, it’s easy to see why the actor is so embedded in our childhood nostalgia. But how is it possible that thousands of people could have memories of something that never happened? Memories that they claim are detailed and true? Well, it’s more common than you may think. False memories are very real, and people are insanely susceptible to the power of suggestion.
Take a crime scene for example. When interviewing witnesses of a crime, officers will ask the witnesses to not discuss the incident amongst themselves and will separate them when possible. This is to keep the witnesses’ memories free from suggestion of the other witnesses. Not because there is malice intent, but because memories can be swayed and influenced without even realizing it. Perhaps witness number 1 saw a suspect with brown hair and a blue shirt running from the scene. But when speaking to witness number 2, they claim to have seen a suspect with black hair and a green shirt running from the scene. Witness number 1 might think to themselves, “You know what… I think the shirt WAS green.” And as a result, give a different description to police than they originally would have.
When you take that concept and throw it into the internet, there is no limit to the reach of that suggestibility. People are connected in a way now that they never were back in the ’90s. But surely that’s not enough. It must take more than one person on the internet saying a movie existed for thousands of people to conjure false memories from their childhood. Right? There must have been some small, repressed moment from our youth that could have spurred this memory for so many people. One possible answer for the confusion is this…
This is Kazaam. A movie starring Shaquille O’Neal playing, you guessed it, a genie. The plot follows a 12-year-old boy named Max who finds a Boombox… oh yeah, that’s 90’s, containing a magical, five-thousand-year-old genie named Kazaam. Max gets the standard three wishes, which he promptly uses to make junk food rain from the sky, like any reasonable twelve-year-old would do. The movie bombed. It only grossed 19 Million on a budget of 20 Million and currently holds a devastatingly low FIVE PERCENT rating on the popular review site Rotten Tomatoes. You want to know what score Sinbad’s Shazaam has? None. Because that movie doesn’t exist. But the Shaquille O’Neal movie Kazaam is, unfortunately, very real and released to cinemas around the country in… 1996. The same year that Sinbad flooded our television screens with four feature films.
Shaq is by no means an actor. Kazaam, and the equally atrocious comic book adaptation Steel, released the following year in 1997, are among his only starring roles. Most people don’t directly associate him with movies. So, is it possible that the faint memory of this less than mediocre genie film, mixed with a surplus of Sinbad in the cinemas that year, led to this mass hallucination? It’s very possible.
Sinbad himself has another theory. In 2016 the comedian tweeted…
“Solved the Sinbad Genie mystery. I hosted an afternoon of Sinbad movie (IN) 1994.” Attached to the tweet was a polaroid of Sinbad in costume. He was intended to be dressed as “Sinbad The Sailor.” A fictional hero who sails the seven seas and has been depicted in books, cartoons, and film. The image does bear a striking resemblance to a genie, but to be fair, everything Sinbad wore in the 90’s kind of resembled a genie.
— Sinbad (@sinbadbad) October 3, 2016
And when you put the two images side by side, it’s easy to see the comparison.
In recent years Sinbad has been plagued with questions surrounding the mythical film. Fans insist it’s real, even when Sinbad himself tells them it isn’t. Proving just how strong the delusion can be. Sinbad also tweeted:
“Have you noticed no one my age has seen this so called Sinbad genie movie, only you people who were kids in the 90s. The young mind!”
Have you noticed no one my age has seen this so called Sinbad Genie movie, only you people who were kids in the 90's. The young mind !
— Sinbad (@sinbadbad) September 7, 2016
Sinbad makes a great point here. It’s interesting that the only group of people who claim to have memories of this movie are people who would have been children when watching it. Nobody in their 50s or 60s has come out confirming the movie was real. Nobody claiming to have taken their young child to see it in theaters, or rented it for the family at the local Blockbuster.
The running theory seems to be that the movie was so bad, so inexcusably awful, that Sinbad used his money and power to destroy all evidence of its existence. Wiping all proof of it from the face of the planet and leaving nothing behind but the fleeting memories of those who were lucky enough to have seen it as a child in the 90’s. Of course, that is… insane.
Making a movie requires A LOT of people. Writers, directors, actors, cinematographers, musicians, producers, distributors, the list goes on and on. So, if we were to believe that theory, that would mean that Sinbad would have pulled off the greatest cover-up in history. Forget Watergate! We’re talking Shaazam-gate! Silencing thousands of people, while also gathering all copies of the film, all unused footage, and picture stills, and having them destroyed. That’s no easy task. It’s also virtually impossible and completely unrealistic. There are a lot of bad movies out there. They’re usually quickly forgotten, or live on in popular culture. But they are wiped from existence. I mean, even Kazaam is still around.
Sinbad’s own kids weighed in on the mythical movie recently. His daughter, Paige Bryan, said simply that the movie, “Did not happen” and that “Our dad has been mistaken for Shaquille O’Neal more times than makes logical sense.” Further suggesting that when people remember Shazaam, they’re actually remembering Kazaam.
But Sinbad is a comedian, and from time to time he’s chosen to lean into the wild theories that have dominated social media. In 2017, the popular comedy site “College Humor” released long lost footage featuring Sinbad a the titular Genie in Shazaam, thus proving that the movie really did exist… Except it was released on April Fool’s Day and Sinbad was in on the joke.
The bottom line is if this movie really did exist there would be some sort of evidence. Your memories alone are not proof of its existence, because memories can’t always be trusted. The Mandela Effect, which refers to a large group of people sharing a false belief or memory regarding an incident, is a very real thing.
Where do you stand on the Sinbad / Shazaam debate? Do you agree that Shazaam doesn’t exist or do you prefer the cover-up theory? Let us know in the comments. Don’t forget to like, subscribe and hit the notification bell to wake the genie and get three free wishes. As long as those wishes are for more great videos.