A Guide to Disney’s Live-Action The Little Mermaid

September 20th, 2022A Guide to Disney’s Live-Action The Little Mermaid


Are you ready to go under the sea once again with Walt Disney and Ariel for a live-action retelling of the animated classic THE LITTLE MERMAID?

Disney has been successfully reviving several of their animated properties — both modern and vintage — so that they play for a contemporary audience. Taking advantage of improvements in technology, the studio has introduced updated versions of BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, THE LION KING, DUMBO, ALADDIN, MULAN and more!

Ariel will swim in their path for a live-action version that is coming to AMC Theatres soon. Let’s break down everything we know about Disney’s anticipated live-action take on THE LITTLE MERMAID.

The Little Mermaid’s Release Date

In May 2016, Deadline reported that Disney was going to make a live-action version of its own animated, 1989 adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s story, “The Little Mermaid.” Five years later, according to THR, it was given an official date of May 26, 2023 and, as of now, remains on the schedule as such.

Is There A Live-Action Little Mermaid Trailer?

A rousing teaser for THE LITTLE MERMAID was unveiled at 2022’s D23 Expo on September 9 and released to the public the same day. The minute-and-a-half-long clip features incredible special effects courtesy of Industrial Light & Magic, Wētā FX, Moving Picture Company and Framestore. The underwater imagery appears as lifelike as Jon Favreau’s THE LION KING, if it had singing.

Is There A Little Mermaid Poster?

In October, Disney unveiled the first official teaser poster for the live-action LITTLE MERMAID remake. Check out the beautiful promotional image for yourself below:

The mostly textless poster – save Disney’s logo and a mention of the film’s 2023 release date – boasts a few subtle similarities to the teaser poster for the animated original, particularly in its simplicity. It presents our aquatic leading star, sitting on a rock in a dimly lit and serene looking area, looking up at the world beyond the sea with dreams of being a part of it one day.

Who Has Been Cast?

As our new live-action Ariel, Disney cast Halle Bailey, who is known for TV’s “Grown-ish” and her 2006 acting debut, LAST HOLIDAY. The other half of musical duo Chloe x Halle also has an astounding singing voice that makes her a perfect choice to play a young mermaid who trades her voice for a pair of legs, leading to all sorts of problems. Bailey, who is said to bring a refreshing inner strength and “fighter” mentality to the role that fans will surely connect with, revealed at D23 that she has been a fan of THE LITTLE MERMAID since she was a child and dreamed of being a mermaid herself while playing by the pool.

After much speculation over whether or not Melissa McCarthy would join the LITTLE MERMAID cast as Ursula, it was reported by Variety in 2019 – and confirmed later – that the Academy AwardⓇ nominee was in talks to play the sea witch who steals Ariel’s voice. Another character being discussed at the time was Ariel’s love interest, Prince Eric – whom some gossipped might be played by musician and DON’T WORRY DARLING star Harry Styles before THR confirmed the role was given to British actor Jonah Hauer-King. As King Triton, ruler of the undersea kingdom who vehemently opposes his daughter’s desire to visit the surface, we have Javier Bardem, who promised to EW that the remake is “something really amazing.” It is truly a dream come true to see the Oscar® winner as the loving but domineering merman who inspires his daughter to run away the more he coddles her.

Three exciting vocal performances in the film are that of Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay and Awkwafina. Daveed Diggs told Collider he had never done more research for any other role when preparing to voice Sebastian – a crab who serves as King Triton’s advisor and Ariel’s mentor. GOOD BOYS and ROOM actor Jacob Tremblay told Collider that he was very impressed with the new character design for his role of Flounder – the fish who swims by Ariel’s side. Awkwafina – who previously worked with Disney on SHANG-CHI AND THE LEGEND OF THE TEN RINGS – called voicing the eccentric seagull, Scuttle, a “mind-blowing experience” when speaking to ComicBook.com.

Additionally, Art Malik will appear as Prince Eric’s advisor, Grimsby, on the live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID cast, which is also incorporating new characters into the story. For instance, Ariel’s mother, Queen Selina, is played by MARY POPPINS RETURNS star Noma Dumezweni.

Who Is Directing The Little Mermaid?

Great news! Disney reached into its stable of talented collaborators and hired Rob Marshall (CHICAGO, INTO THE WOODS) to guide this remake to theatres. Not only does Marshall have experience with big-budget musicals, making him an ideal hire for this gig, but he also brought the right touch of whimsy and nostalgia to 2018’s MARY POPPINS RETURNS. Disney has not slouched when it comes to finding talent to helm these live-action remakes, as Rob Marshall follows in the footsteps of Guy Ritchie (ALADDIN), Tim Burton (DUMBO) and Jon Favreau (THE LION KING).

Will It Be A Musical?

You don’t hire Rob Marshall unless you want a musical element, so that was enough of a clue to suggest the live-action THE LITTLE MERMAID would feature Oscar-nominated songs like “Kiss the Girl” and “Under the Sea.” Confirming this as fact was the D23 teaser, which beautifully recreates the original “Part of Your World” sequence with Halle Bailey’s incredible vocals. See for yourself by watching the clip below:

Also, Marshall has recruited Broadway sensation – and his MARY POPPINS cohort – Lin-Manuel Miranda to produce the remake and contribute new songs to the soundtrack. Miranda worked with original THE LITTLE MERMAID composer Alan Menken and would share notes from their sessions on social media, so the collaboration appears to have gone swimmingly.

We’ll have a lot more information about THE LITTLE MERMAID as the film gets closer to release — come back to the AMC Scene for more news!


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