In 2023, prepare to go back under the sea. Following the trend of Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Jungle Book, Cinderella, The Lion King, and a few more recent live-action remakes, Disney returns to the sea and one of their most beloved properties with The Little Mermaid, starring Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy. Directed by Rob Marshall (Chicago) and featuring brand new music from Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken, Disney's live-action remake is among their most anticipated, and we know a few details about this forthcoming movie. Here's what we know about The Little Mermaid remake.
Disney’s The Little Mermaid Will Premiere In Theaters On May 26, 2023
On May 26th, 2023, 34 years after Disney's The Little Mermaid premiered in theaters, The Mouse House will once again invite audiences to be part of Ariel's world with their latest live-action remake. Previously expected for a 2021 or 2022 release, multiple delays have led the big-screen retelling into its current 2023 premiere date, which will put it smack dab in the middle of the summer movie season. While the Memorial Day slot hasn't always been super successful in the past, the holiday weekend did quite well for 2019's Aladdin. Clearly, Disney is hoping this remake proves to be equally as profitable.
Halle Bailey Will Play Ariel
Admittedly, Halle Bailey wasn't the expected choice for Ariel. Zendaya was at one point rumored for the part, and some fans hoped for Ariana Grande to play the titular role. However, in July 2019, it was revealed that Halle Bailey was given the opportunity to stretch her legs (or, rather, her fins) and play the world's most famous mermaid in Disney's latest live-action remake. It should be noted that Bailey has been working hard as an actress throughout the years. She had a main role in ABC's grown-ish and she can be seen in episodes of Austin & Ally and Tyler Perry's House of Payne. Additionally, Bailey briefly appeared in Last Holiday and Let It Shine. But this lead role in this major Disney blockbuster is quite easily her biggest project to date.
Melissa McCarthy Will Become Ursula In The Little Mermaid
Even more so than Ariel, taking on the role of deliciously villainous Ursula is a daunting task. The red lipstick-wearing Sea Witch is among the most memorable antagonists in Disney history. She savors every word that comes out of her mouth and makes a grand display out of every gesture. Arguably, viewers will be more curious to see how this vivacious character fares in live-action.
While some folks may have hoped that Queen Latifah (who played Ursula in ABC's The Little Mermaid Live!), Lizzo (who showed off her appreciation for the character in a musical Tweet), or Tituss Burgess (who played Sebastian in The Little Mermaid on Broadway) would take on the part, Melissa McCarthy was ultimately cast. And it's certainly easy to see why the movie star was picked. Her boisterous personality is an understandable fit, and she'll make a spectacle out of the role. But expectations will be high for this performance. Perhaps that's putting it lightly. So, you know... no pressure.
The Supporting Cast Includes Jonah Hauer-King, Javier Bardem, And The Voice Talents Of Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, And Awkwafina
Along with Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy leading the show in the lead roles, The Little Mermaid cast will also include the supporting talents of Jonah Hauer-King and Javier Bardem as Prince Eric, our hunky human prince, and King Triton, the King of Atlantica and Ariel's intensely overprotective father, respectively. Additionally, Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina will each lend their voices to three prominent parts. Specifically, Diggs will be heard as Sebastian, Ariel's loyal crab, Tremblay will lend his pipes to the role of Flounder, Ariel's tropical fish best friend, and Awkwafina will voice Scuttle, Ariel's winged wingman who has been changed from a seagull to a diving bird.
The Little Mermaid (2023) Is Directed By Rob Marshall
Following the Best Picture-winning triumph of Chicago, Rob Marshall has kept an active career, particularly under Disney's bankroll. Following a slight detour with Memoirs of a Geisha and Nine, Marshall called the shots on Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Into the Woods, and Mary Poppins Returns. While none of these films reached the same critical success as his 2002 movie, Disney has apparently remained happy with his output. In December 2017, Deadline reported that Rob Marshall was Disney's top choice to direct The Little Mermaid. This may prove to be his most challenging movie. While Marshall's output might ultimately be more misses than hits, Disney appears confident that he will bring this splashy musical to life with this upcoming live-action reimagining.
The Disney Remake Is Co-Produced By Lin-Manuel Miranda, Who Also Wrote Original Songs
Lin-Manuel Miranda keeps himself plenty busy these days. The extremely hard-working actor/writer/producer/director has a variety of exciting projects in the works, including his directorial debut, tick, tick... BOOM! Yet, he found the time to co-produce Disney's The Little Mermaid. Furthermore, Miranda has also written a few original songs for the project alongside returning composer Alan Menken (whom we'll discuss in a little bit). Given how famous the songs in the previous movie were, it's gonna be hard to top the classics. Then again, Miranda does know a thing or two about making catchy tunes...
Alan Menken Will Return To Compose The Score And The Songs For The Little Mermaid (2023)
While Alan Menken is responsible for many of Disney's most recognizable soundtracks, his work on The Little Mermaid is arguably among his most well-known and acclaimed. Songs like "Part of Your World," "Under the Sea," and "Kiss the Girl," to name only a few, are some of the most famous in Disney's canon, and the 2023 movie simply wouldn't be the same without his returning involvement. Thankfully, Menken will return to compose the score and work on the songs for this new movie. He's also collaborating with Lin-Manuel Miranda, as we've mentioned before, to write a few new tunes for this remake.
The Production Was Delayed Due To The COVID-19 Pandemic
Like many movies throughout this troubled time, 2023's The Little Mermaid has faced setbacks. The remake was originally scheduled to start shooting in late March 2020. However, on March 13 of that year, The Hollywood Reporter reported that The Little Mermaid was one of several Disney films that would suspend production due to the pandemic. Specifically, it wasn't until January 2021 that filming was reportedly underway (or, rather, undersea). Finally, the Disney remake officially wrapped production on July 11, 2021, thus concluding a prolonged process.
Halle Bailey Talked About How Grateful She Was For This Opportunity When Production Wrapped In July
As noted before, Halle Bailey was a bit of an unexpected choice for the role of Ariel in 2023's The Little Mermaid. The musician-turned-actress is still coming into her own as a performer, and this movie will be a major milestone in her career — assuming it does well, of course. A long time passed between her casting and the end of filming, but the extended wait only gave the star more opportunities to reflect and be grateful. As she noted on Twitter following the wrap of production, Bailey auditioned for the part at 18 and she finally finished filming when she turned 21. It seems like an incredible journey for the starlet, and if the movie does well, we should expect more exciting things to come.
Here's what Halle Bailey tweeted:
The Little Mermaid will splash into theaters on March 26th, 2023.
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.
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