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Why Sofia Coppola Bailed On Live-Action The Little Mermaid

Things have not exactly gone smoothly for Universal’s live-action reboot of The Little Mermaid. Just when it seemed like they had gotten their wish for the project to sprout legs, director Sofia Coppola dropped out due to the all too common rationale of "creative differences."

A new interview with The Wrap has shed a bit more light into the reasons for Coppola’s departure from the project:

We didn’t agree creatively about how to do it, so I didn’t want to continue. As we were getting closer, it just wasn’t the right fit for what they needed for that project and the way I work. I decided to do something in a smaller scale, the way I like to work.

We already reported on Coppola departing from the project months ago, but this represents a rare instance of her opening up about the nature of her departure. Early reports had suggested that Coppola wanted to take the story of The Little Mermaid in an overall darker direction, while – based on the quote – it appears that Universal wanted the story to harken back to the beloved characteristics of the original Disney version, and take on a much bigger scale.

Coppola’s more mature style of filmmaking has become something of a signature, and would have made the project decidedly different from what we have seen before. Funny Or Die even decided to parody the project back when Coppola was still attached, check out the "dark" Little Mermaid below:

Beyond the scope of the film, casting also represented a point of contention between Universal and Coppola. The studio wanted a major name to headline the film – because that obviously means a bigger box office draw – while Coppola preferred the casting of an unknown actress for Ariel. Ultimately actress Chloe Grace Moretz (Kick-Ass, Carrie) nabbed the part. As far as young actresses working today goes, Moretz is about as far away from an unknown as you can get, which is seemingly an indication that the whims of the studio won out over Coppola’s.

At this early stage in the film’s development it remains difficult to determine exactly who has the better vision for a live-action version of The Little Mermaid. Obviously every film and every studio is different, but the desire for a reboot of the classic children’s tale should look to its contempraries as guides of what to do and what not to do. Considering the immense failure of Warner Bros.’ Pan earlier this year, it would have potentially behooved Universal to listen to Coppola and keep the scale of the film smaller and more manageable.

The latest incarnation of The Little Mermaid continues to hunt for a director, and we will keep you updated on any and all details as they become available. A release date has yet to be confirmed.

Conner Schwerdtfeger

Originally from Connecticut, Conner grew up in San Diego and graduated from Chapman University in 2014. He now lives in Los Angeles working in and around the entertainment industry and can mostly be found binging horror movies and chugging coffee.