Do you remember a fantasy film from the 1990s in which Sinbad played a genie? Well, it never existed. The Shazaam conspiracy is an internet phenomenon that all started with an innocent Yahoo! Answers question inquiring if anyone else "remembered" the movie. A film named Kazaam starring Shaquille O'Neal as a goofy genie did come out in 1996, but Shazaam truthers are adamant that not only were they two different films, but that Kazaam was simply a cheap knock-off of the brilliance that was Shazaam.
In reality, this is all part of the concept known as the Mandela Effect: the collective misremembering of an event.
Read on to learn more about how thousands of people remember vivid details from a movie that never existed.
- Photo: u/Romthirty / Reddit
'Shazaam’ Supposedly Stars Sinbad As A Genie Who Helps Two Kids Find Love For Their Sad Dad
The widely misremembered Shazaam stars Sinbad as a genie who is freed from a magic lamp by a young brother-and-sister duo. The children decide to use their three wishes to find a new girlfriend for their single father, who has been left brokenhearted since the passing of the kids' mother. Wacky hijinks ensue. The film supposedly ended with a work-related pool party thrown by the father, in which the children finally use their last wish to help him meet the love of his life.
Some Redditors remember the cover art of the film depicting Sinbad posing with his arms crossed against a purple background. Others believe that late comedian Phil Hartman was a writer and producer on the film.
Like All Great Mysteries, It Started On Yahoo! Answers
Remember Yahoo! Answers? Back in 2009, an anonymous individual posed an earnest question: "Do you remember that Sinbad movie? Wasn't there a movie in the early 90s where Sinbad the entertainer/comedian played a genie? I know Kazaam had Shaq in it and that's not the one I'm thinking about. Help it's driving me nuts!" Apparently that Yahoo! poster wasn't the only one who remembered the Sinbad genie movie.
Later that year, the famed comedian tweeted: "I must h[a]ve played a genie. Everyone says I did."
The film fell back under the radar until 2015, when VICE published an article about the Mandela Effect: the concept of collective misremembering. The term was coined by paranormal researcher Fiona Broome after she discovered that many people seemed to "remember" Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980s. (Mandela didn't actually pass until 2013.) Mandela and Shazaam weren't the only major examples. A collective internet murmur emerged over the children's book and cartoon series The Berenstain Bears. Many insisted that it was spelled Berenstein - with an 'E,' not an 'A.' This was the Mandela Effect in action.
As the phenomenon began to slowly seep into the mainstream, posts about Shazaam began and a viral uproar ensued.
To Many, ‘Shazaam’ Confirms Multiverse Theory, And Suggests Parallel Universes Got Their Streams Crossed
By now, consumers of pop culture - particularly in the science-fiction realm - are more than familiar with the notion of parallel universes. Multiverse theory has made its presence known across various movies, TV shows, and comic books.
It is the very conceptual backdrop of modern cult-classic Rick and Morty. It's official canon in the WB's popular dark fantasy series Supernatural, examined throughout its sixth season and exemplified in "The French Mistake," one of the show's most famous episodes.
And it also just might be the explanation for why so many people remember seeing a Sinbad-starring genie movie called Shazaam. The Mandela Effect is rooted in the multiverse idea. What most people would chalk up to false or conflated memories is not, by this argument, actually the case; instead, the memories simply come from a parallel universe. Somewhere along the line, wires got crossed.
So, as the thinking goes, those who remember Shazaam really do remember it - they're just no longer living in a universe in which the movie got made in the first place.
- Photo: u/88Howitzer / Reddit
People Don’t Just Remember 'Shazaam' - They Vividly Remember Specific Scenes
The most commonly remembered scene from Shazaam is the finale. The film ends in a pool party related to the father's work and everyone lives happily ever after. On Reddit, several people seem to recall a scene in which one of the children wishes for a mountain of gumballs. Others remember the little sister wasting one of the three wishes on having Shazaam fix a broken doll. There's supposedly even another scene in which the children and Shazaam go to a shopping mall.
These scenes are a prime example of the Mandela Effect. How do multiple people seem to remember the same moments from a movie that never existed? Well, these kinds of scenes were pretty commonplace in children's film and television throughout the '90s. Supernatural shows such as Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? frequently depicted children embarking on strange adventures involving magic, wishes, and cursed or possessed objects (including genie lamps).
- Photo: Kazaam / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution, Inc.
Yes, Everyone Is Probably Remembering The Shaq Movie 'Kazaam' - But They Adamantly Insist Otherwise
One of the comments in the now-infamous Yahoo! Answers thread contains a description of what the commenter believes to be a real scene from Shazaam: The kids ask Sinbad to prove he's a genie, so he makes it rain junk food. As it turns out, this is an actual scene from the 1996 musical comedy Kazaam, which stars Shaquille O'Neal as a genie who helps a young boy get to know his estranged father. The cover art for Kazaam depicts Shaq posing with his arms crossed against a purple background... which fits the description so many people claim to remember as the cover art for Shazaam.
But as it turns out, a lot of people "remember" both Shazaam and Kazaam existing in the same decade. One woman claims she thought Kazaam was just a rip-off of Shazaam, which supposedly came out first. The original Yahoo! Answers poster even specifies that he isn't talking about Kazaam. Some Shazaam truthers chalk it up to that ol' Hollywood thing where studios make and release similar movies either within the same year or very close timeframe - i.e. Finding Nemo and Shark Tank, or Friends With Benefits and No Strings Attached.
To add a bit of fuel: Previews for Kazaam appeared on the VHS for the Disney movie First Kid, starring Sinbad.
Sinbad Himself Has Repeatedly Confirmed He Never Starred In A Genie Movie
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
Seriously... he didn't. Sinbad did not star as a genie in a movie called Shazaam - or any other genie movie, for that matter. Just look at his Twitter account. Over the years he has regularly joked about the movie's nonexistence. He even tweeted a link to the Snopes article that proves the movie never existed.
The funniest tweet might just be a response to a Patton Oswalt tweet about Sinbad allegedly agreeing to work with Ben Carson: "I met Ben Carson 20 to 30 years ago and [that's] the last time I've ever spoken to him... so is my genie character supposed to be working with him?"