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, and ALADDIN, with MULAN on its way as well.
Ariel will swim in their path for a live-action version that will be coming to theatres eventually. There has been movement behind the scenes which suggests the production is about to ramp up, so let’s break down everything we already know about Disney’s anticipated live-action take on THE LITTLE MERMAID.
The Little Mermaid’s Release Date
We don’t have that yet. At the very least, Walt Disney Studios has circled a number of potential dates on the release calendar for untitled projects, and we expect THE LITTLE MERMAID to slot into a 2021 date (considering filming hasn’t even begun on the ambitious project). But Disney released three live-action updates in 2019, so we know they are eager to have Ariel dive back into theatres as soon as possible.
Is There a Live-Action Little Mermaid Trailer?
Seeing as how they haven’t filmed any footage yet, no, it is way too soon for there to be a trailer. Take note, though. When director Jon Favreau began working on THE LION KING, he had a proof-of-concept video reel of the movie’s opening that the studio took around to major festivals like D23 and CinemaCon, so we could easily see the studio filming footage of their live-action Ariel “swimming” around, to give skeptical audiences an idea of how she might look on screen in a new THE LITTLE MERMAID.
Who Has Been Cast?
The reason Disney might be able to film test footage with a live-action Ariel is because the pivotal role in THE LITTLE MERMAID has been cast!
Halle Bailey, a young actress known for roles in TV’s “Grown-ish” and the musical duo Chloe x Halle, landed the part of Ariel, the frustrated mermaid who dreams of living on the surface. As you likely know, Ariel will trade her beautiful singing voice for a pair of legs, though the deal she strikes leads to all sorts of problems.
Casting has continued on THE LITTLE MERMAID beyond the addition of Halle Bailey, though some of the roles are still rumors at this point. Melissa McCarthy, for example, appears to be up for the role of Ursula, the sea witch who steals Ariel’s voice. And while the BRIDESMAIDS scene-stealer hinted at the possibility, the news hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Neither has the rumor that DUNKIRK co-star (and One Direction heartthrob) Harry Styles has been cast as Prince Eric, who falls for Ariel without knowing she’s a mermaid.
Finally, Oscar® winner Javier Bardem appears to be in the running to play King Triton, ruler of the undersea kingdom who vehemently opposes his daughter’s desires to visit the surface. As is the case in any Disney movie, the more he smothers his daughter, the more she’s inspired to run away. Landing Bardem for this part would be a dream come true.
Outside of these rumors, there are two vocal performances we can confirm. GOOD BOYS star Jacob Tremblay will lend his talents to Flounder, the fish who swims by Ariel’s side. And Awkwafina has been tapped to voice Scuttle.
Who Is Directing The Little Mermaid?
Great news! Disney has 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 the recent 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?
Everything we are seeing suggests that THE LITTLE MERMAID will lean into its famous soundtrack, which included Oscar-nominated songs like “Kiss the Girl,” “Part of Your World” and “Under the Sea.”
You don’t hire Rob Marshall unless you want a musical element. 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 will be working with original THE LITTLE MERMAID composer Alan Menken, and the two have been sharing notes from their sessions on social media, so the collaboration so far has been going 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!