Disney rolls out its latest remake, 'The Little Mermaid' (2023)


Has Disney done it again? And if they have, should they maybe stop?


DAVEED DIGGS: (As Sebastian, singing) Under the sea, under the sea. Darling, it's better...

SUMMERS: These are some of the questions on our minds as Disney's remake of "The Little Mermaid" hits theaters. The industry juggernaut's latest live action remake has ingredients needed to dominate at the box office - star power, good timing and nostalgia, lots of nostalgia. But some argue that we should expect more than that in 2023. There's a whole lot to get into here, so we are going to turn this one over to our group chat. Today I'm joined by Aisha Harris, a co-host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour, and also Gene Demby, a co-host of NPR's Code Switch. Hey, y'all.


GENE DEMBY, BYLINE: What's good, Juana? Glad to be here.

SUMMERS: All right. Aisha, I want to start with you here, because you've seen this movie, and you reviewed it for NPR. Give us the short version. What did you make of it? Did Disney try anything new here, or did they just stick to the same old playbook?

(Video) The Little Mermaid 2023 Behind The Scenes

HARRIS: Well, Disney, I think, has its playbook down pat. Basically, they take an animated classic, as they call it, and then they turn it into a live-action CGI remake. They throw in some familiar faces, and they add a little bit of modernization to it. They might recast it in a different way. And voila, they are making probably a billion dollars. And this is probably what's going to happen with this movie. I would not be surprised. So the fact that Halle Bailey is a Black Ariel is a big deal. The cast itself is very multicultural. But at the end of the day, it still feels very, very similar to everything they've done with other movies, including "Aladdin," "Beauty And The Beast," "Jungle Book."

SUMMERS: As you mentioned, Aisha, Halle Bailey plays Ariel.


HALLE BAILEY: (As Ariel, singing) Wish I could be part of that world. What would I give...

SUMMERS: And, I mean, her voice is gorgeous. She's clearly got a charming presence. But I'm curious about her depiction of Ariel. Are the flaws here more on her performance, or is it the construction of this movie?

HARRIS: I think it's hard to be able to tell because especially when so much of this film is CGI and you have actors performing against fake backdrops, it's really hard as a performer to be able to really rise above that and stand out amongst this, like, cacophony of really ugly visuals. And I think for me, one of the problems I had with this performance - and it could be just the direction she was given, but she doesn't have the sort of like feistiness and mischievousness of the original Ariel. And I think that's, like, a core part of this character. And while she's very charming here, it's just missing that sort of, like, fire that I really wanted from a performance like this.

SUMMERS: OK, this one's for both of y'all. I remember when we got the trailer for this movie and found out it was coming out, there were all of those videos all over social media - I remember scrolling through TikTok; you couldn't miss them - of these young Black girls who seem to be starstruck by the idea that there was a Black girl as "The Little Mermaid." And I had some feelings about that, and I'm curious what you made of all that.

DEMBY: Oh, man. I mean, you could almost set your watch to it at this point. Like, whenever there's a big-budget tentpole movie with a Black cast, at some point, the discourse around that movie becomes about, like, what Black people owe to its box office performance, right? If you think - if you go back to "Red Tails" - right? - this not very good movie by George Lucas that came out, like, a decade ago. It was about the Tuskegee Airmen, and George Lucas, when he was doing the rollout for that movie, was talking explicitly about how Hollywood studios didn't want to bankroll that movie because they had a Black cast. They had no sense that there would be enough people that would come out to support this movie. And so people organized around going to see "Red Tails." They organized church groups. They organized youth groups and took kids from schools to go because they thought it was important. The Obamas had a screening of it at the White House.

(Video) New Little Mermaid Live Action Character Meet at Disney | New Ariel Merch & Food | Disney World 2023

SUMMERS: I remember that.

DEMBY: And it's something like that is sort of happening around "The Little Mermaid," right? There was this thing called the "Little Mermaid" challenge, which is this project by which people are trying to raise money so that little Black girls can go see "The Little Mermaid" in theaters. And on one hand, it's like, oh, that's really cute. You know, representation is really important. They should see themselves. On the other hand - and this is maybe my cynicism coming through - it's like, do we really want to be crowdfunding for Disney, one of the - if not the biggest media company in the world, right? Like, is that a project we should be invested in?

And I think those things get muddied a lot - right? - when we talk about big, tentpole Black movies. And I think it's because Black folks have historically felt like, oh, my God, if we don't come out and support this movie, they won't make more movies like this. But that also, like, muddies and complicates the way we can talk about it because then the conversation about representation is just about sort of box office performance. It's just about sort of, like, did we do enough to sort of keep this train moving?

HARRIS: To Gene's point, there were, you know, all the right-wing conservative talking heads and people saying, oh, that's not my Ariel. Like, I think, like, that was an actual hashtag, like, #NotMyAriel, because people were upset that she was Black now. And so when you have that tied in, it's not just about this movie as, like, in terms of box office, but it's also about in terms of, like, this act of resistance that people think they are taking if they go to see this anyway, even if they don't think it's a good thing. So it does make it complicated because people take my critiquing this movie as me not wanting Halle Bailey to win or not wanting, like, more of these stories. And my response to that is just, like, I'm rooting for Halle Bailey. I'm rooting for, you know, all of these performers in this movie. But, like, at the same time, it's not a good movie, and I want better for all of us.

SUMMERS: Gene, I'm curious - from your perspective, what gets lost when we flatten the conversation around race in this way, particularly when it comes to the intersection of race and pop culture?

DEMBY: And not to put on, like, my race hat too hard, but it feels almost as if, like, we are in a time in which there are so few avenues for us to exert sort of our will, like, throughout the democratic process, right? And so we're encouraged all the time to, like, buy and to consume. And the way we express our politics is through what we buy. And so it's kind of ridiculous to think about it this way, but these movies become, like, an expression of our values, right? And going to buy them becomes an expression of our values.

Like, one of the things about the "Little Mermaid" discourse that's really interesting to me, and it happens a lot of time around movies with Black casts, is that you can even hear it in the way that people talk about them. They don't say, I'm going to go see the movie. I'm going to - they say I'm going to support this movie, which is something you do for a political cause and not for a movie about a mermaid and some CGI fish. You know what I'm saying?

HARRIS: (Laughter).

(Video) The Little Mermaid | Part Of Your World

DEMBY: Like, but that's the way we're talking about this movie - right? - which tells you about, like, how much weight it has taken on.

SUMMERS: I mean, this is Disney's - what? - 22nd live-action adaptation at this point?


SUMMERS: And first of all, that's crazy. Secondly, there's been this growing kind of concern about the lack of original media that isn't an adaptation or a remake or a spinoff of some franchise. How much of this is just about, I don't know, a lack of creativity and imagination? Or is this just about Disney wanting to avoid risk?

HARRIS: I mean, I think it's both of those things, right? This doesn't only apply to Disney. Like, every corporation is doing the same thing. It feels very frustrating as a viewer - and I imagine for people in Hollywood, too - to just be kind of, like, stuck in this rut of constantly having to rehash things. And I mean, not to bring in a completely - like, when I think about the writer's strike that's happening right now, I wonder how much of that is, like, also tied to this frustration with, like, not being able to, like, have original content, and writers being kind of forced in order to make a living - even though they're struggling to make a living to begin with, but being forced to make a living to some extent by just taking someone else's property and trying to put a new spin on it.

DEMBY: To Aisha's point, I think leaning into sort of the representation sort of anxiety that people have and the desire to see - to come out and support these movies is a way of kind of, like, critic-proofing and ensuring a certain level of box office, right? The only thing we need is butts in seats. If that means winking at Black people and tell them like, hey, see yourself on the screen...

HARRIS: Oh, God.

DEMBY: ...Disney and these studios are not above that kind of nudging.

(Video) The Little Mermaid 2023 | Under The Sea Snippet | Daveed Diggs & Halle Bailey

SUMMERS: That's Aisha Harris, co-host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast. Thanks, Aisha.

HARRIS: Thanks so much.

SUMMERS: And Gene Demby, co-host of NPR's Code Switch. Thanks, Gene.

DEMBY: Thank you, Juana.


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Is Disney redoing The Little Mermaid? ›

The classic film The Little Mermaid now has a highly anticipated live-action remake—and it just made its May 2023 debut.

Will The Little Mermaid 2023 be on Disney plus? ›

The Little Mermaid, the latest installment in the The Little Mermaid franchise, is coming to Disney+ on July 8th! This new movie promises to be just as exciting as the previous ones, with plenty of action and adventure to keep viewers entertained.

Who is playing The Little Mermaid 2023? ›

Top row: Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Melissa McCarthy, and Javier Bardem portray Ariel, Eric, Ursula and King Triton. Bottom row: Noma Dumezweni plays Queen Selina, while Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina voice Sebastian, Flounder and Scuttle.

When did The Little Mermaid remake come out? ›

When will The Little Mermaid land on Disney Plus? The film's official cinematic release was Friday May 26.

Is The Little Mermaid 2023 out yet? ›

The Little Mermaid opens in theaters on May 26, 2023.

Is Ariel Black in The New Little mermaid? ›

Disney's new 'Little Mermaid' star Halle Bailey is Black. So were mermaids in hundreds of years of folklore from Africa and the Caribbean | Fronteras.

How much did it cost to make The Little Mermaid 2023? ›

How much money did The Little Mermaid make 2023? ›

Rob Marshall's 2023 live-action The Little Mermaid has made a splash at the box office, with an estimated $163.5 million worldwide in its first weekend, according to Deadline. This figure includes a three-day opening of $95.5 million and an international box office score of $68.3 million.

How much has The Little Mermaid 2023 made so far? ›

It has performed better overseas, where it has earned nearly $400 million to bring it global haul north of $500 million, making it the third highest-grossing movie of 2023. The franchise has crossed the $7 billion mark at the global box office to become the fifth highest-grossing film series of all-time.

Who is the dad of The Little Mermaid 2023? ›

Javier Bardem portrays King Triton, Ariel's protective father and ruler of the sea.

How much did Halle Bailey get paid for The Little Mermaid? ›

It's believed that Bailey made about $1.5 million for her role as Ariel in The Little Mermaid, but that number could increase depending on how well the film performs opening weekend and beyond.

Is Ursula Ariel's aunt? ›

Ursula was originally conceived as Triton's sister, which would have naturally made the character Ariel's aunt, but the idea was ultimately abandoned. However, their blood relationship is still vaguely alluded to when the character mentions a time during which she actually lived in Triton's palace.

How many Little Mermaid remakes are there? ›

The Little Mermaid (franchise)
The Little Mermaid
Film(s)The Little Mermaid (1989) The Little Mermaid (2023)
Animated seriesThe Little Mermaid (1992–94)
Television special(s)The Little Mermaid Live! (2019)
Direct-to-videoThe Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000) The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning (2008)
15 more rows

Are there two versions of The Little Mermaid? ›

In conclusion, the live-action version of The Little Mermaid is almost the same as the original. The changes are subtle and carefully done to preserve the story of the animated version. Though any diehard fan of the 1989 movie can tell the differences, it ultimately doesn't change the spirit.

Is Max in The New Little Mermaid? ›

Oh thanks goodness, Max is still in the movie.

Where is Little Mermaid 2023 set? ›

Most of the coastal scenes featured in The Little Mermaid were shot on the Italian island of Sardinia, located in the Mediterranean sea.

What app is The Little Mermaid 2023 on? ›

There are a few ways to watch The Little Mermaid online in the U.S. You can use a streaming service such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video. You can also rent or buy the movie on iTunes or Google Play.

Who is the new Ariel? ›

Halle Bailey stars as Ariel in Disney's live-action The Little Mermaid — the studio's latest blatant cash-grab.

What race is Ariel supposed to be? ›

In the 1989 movie, Ariel was born in the fictional underwater kingdom of Atlantica, which technically makes her Atlantican, not Danish. As Ariel is half fish, she cannot be categorized by our ethnicities and races.

Who is Ursula in the new Ariel? ›

Disney has debuted a new 60-second preview for the The Little Mermaid live-action movie, opening in theaters this May. This tease features more footage of Melissa McCarthy as the evil octopus Ursula, who puts a spell on Ariel.

Is Ariel Italian or Danish? ›

Ariel's story really begins in Ancient Greece. According to lore, she is a nereid, one of the dozens of daughters of the sea-god Triton.

How old was the price in The Little Mermaid? ›

5. Speaking of ages, our little mermaid is 10 years old when we first meet her, and she ages to 15 after a time jump. The prince, who also goes unnamed, is estimated to be around 16 years old. In the Disney adaptation, Prince Eric is 18 and Ariel is 16.

How is the new Little Mermaid doing at the box office? ›

Disney's live-action remake of its 1989 animated classic easily outswam the competition, bringing in $95.5 million on 4,320 screens in North America, according to studio estimates Sunday (May 28).

Is The Little Mermaid doing well in theaters? ›

Disney's “The Little Mermaid” hooked nearly $96 million over its first three days in North American theaters. That opening is on par with the $91 million “Aladdin” secured in 2019 on its way to more than $1 billion at the global box office.

What did The Little Mermaid gross at the box office? ›

According to Box Office Mojo, "The Little Mermaid" collected $117 million in domestic box office in north America. The movie has grossed $68.3 million in international markets. Overall, Disney's live-action movie has fetched a worldwide gross of $185 million.

What year was Million Dollar Mermaid? ›

Esther Williams secured her status as "America's Swimming Sweetheart" with Million Dollar Mermaid (1952), a story loosely based on the real-life Australian swimmer Annette Kellerman.

Where was Little Mermaid live filmed? ›

The live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid was filmed in Sardinia. While the vast majority of the film was shot at Pinewood Studios in London, for a few scenes in The Little Mermaid, the production crews went looking for exceptional coastal landscapes.

How much did The Little Mermaid ride cost? ›

Walt Disney Imagineering has begun installing the audio-animatronic figures in the new $100-million Little Mermaid dark ride at Disney California Adventure in advance of the attraction's June 3 debut.

How old is Ariel in The Little Mermaid Return to the sea? ›

To protect her from a sea witch, Ariel's daughter is not allowed in the ocean; but when she becomes 12, she runs away to an adventure under the sea.

Was The Little Mermaid 16? ›

Ariel, a sixteen-year-old mermaid princess, is dissatisfied with life under the sea and curious about the human world. With her best fish friend Flounder, Ariel collects human artifacts and goes to the surface of the ocean to visit Scuttle the seagull, who offers very inaccurate and comical knowledge of human culture.

Is Sebastian a lobster or a crab? ›

Sebastian (full name Horatio Thelonious Ignacious Crustaceous Sebastian) is a crab and one of the main protagonists in Disney's 1989 hit film The Little Mermaid, its prequel film, its TV series, and its sequel.

Who is Ariel's baby daughter? ›

In The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea (2000), Ariel, now the new queen of Eric's kingdom has given birth to a daughter named Melody.

Who is Ariel's second daughter? ›

Ariel declaring her and Eric's unconditional love for Melody. Princess Melody is the protagonist of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea.

Is Queen Latifah in Little Mermaid? ›

5. In the meantime, check out Queen Latifah's announcement regarding her latest role below. “Fortunately I know a little magic.” 😘 Excited to be a part of The Wonderful World of Disney Presents The Little Mermaid Live! #Ursula #TheLittleMermaid #TeamSeaWitch .

How much is Halle Bailey's net worth? ›

Halle Bailey's net worth in 2023 is $1 million. This is according to reputable outlets such as Celebrity Net Worth. Halle Bailey was born on March 27, 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia.

Does Halle Bailey have locs in The Little Mermaid? ›

Halle Bailey's trademark locs are on full display in "The Little Mermaid," just the way she wanted them to be. "There's so much Black diversity on-screen now," she told Ebony in a story published May 26, the premiere date of the film.

Did Ursula have a daughter? ›

Ursula is only mentioned in this novel as her daughter, Uma, is one of the main characters. When Uma was a child, Ursula gave her daughter a piece of her necklace, which Uma wore it inside a locket. Ursula still owns her shop, but she rarely shows up as she prefers to stay home and watch Auradon soap operas.

Is Ursula a man or woman? ›

Ursula (also known as the Sea Witch) is the main antagonist of Disney's 1989 animated feature film The Little Mermaid. She is a villainous Cecaelia (half-woman, half-octopus) who strikes deals with unfortunate merfolk with the promise of making their dreams come true.

Is Ursula the daughter of Poseidon? ›

Ursula and Tritons parents are Poseidon and Amphitrite. When Poseidon died Ursula got Amphitrite's shell and half of the sea and Triton got the trident and half the sea. Triton married Athena and Ursula recalls having feasts.

What is the oldest version of The Little Mermaid? ›

Hans Christian Andersen's original story

First published in 1837, The Little Mermaid was written in Danish and titled Den lille havfrue. The Little Mermaid is a literary fairy tale. The plot is drawn from Hans Christian Andersen's imagination rather than a specific folktale.

Did The Little Mermaid have a name in the original story? ›

The Little Mermaid, a tale that endured over the centuries

Ariel, a young mermaid, dreams of becoming human and living on the surface herself. With the help of her friend, she disobeys her father King Triton, and trades her precious voice for a pair of legs with the witch Ursula.

What was the original Little mermaid ending? ›

The mermaid saves the prince from drowning, after other mermaids mesmerize the sailors into crashing their ship on to the rocks. The prince is saved by a local princess under whose care he recovers.

What was the original Little mermaid name? ›

Ariel wasn't known as Ariel in the original fairy tale. She was simply referred to as the “little mermaid.” Aside from Disney's Ariel, the character has gone by other names as well. For instance, in the Japanese animated series Adventure of the Little Mermaid , she is known as Marina.

Will Max be in The Little Mermaid 2023? ›

Flotsam and Jetsam, Ursula's green moray eel minions, and Max, Eric's pet dog, also appear. Jodi Benson, the original voice of Ariel in the animated film, cameos as a market vendor during Ariel and Eric's tour of the kingdom.

What kind of fish is flounder? ›

flounder, any of numerous species of flatfishes belonging to the families Achiropsettidae, Pleuronectidae, Paralichthyidae, and Bothidae (order Pleuronectiformes). The flounder is morphogenetically unusual. When born it is bilaterally symmetrical, with an eye on each side, and it swims near the surface of the sea.

What breed is the dog in Little Mermaid? ›

The Old English Sheepdog is featured in Disney's The Little Mermaid, as Prince Eric's faithful companion.

Where will The Little Mermaid 2023 be streaming? ›

few ways to Watch The Little Mermaid online in the US You can use a streaming service such as Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime Video.

Where can I watch the new Disney Little Mermaid? ›

When the time comes for The Little Mermaid to splash onto Disney+ though, make sure you're all prepared to watch it. If you don't have access yet, you can opt into a 30-day free trial before choosing a plan that start at $7.99 per month or $79.99 per year.

Does Disney have The Little Mermaid? ›

Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' rakes in $117 million at the US box office on opening weekend. Including international ticket sales, “The Little Mermaid” brought in $185.8 million over the weekend.

How is Little Mermaid doing in the box office? ›

BOX OFFICE: Disney's #TheLittleMermaid scores $38M in its first day & is on pace for $120M+ over the 4-day weekend. If it tops $126.9M, it will be 3rd highest Memorial Day weekend ever.

Will The Little Mermaid be on Netflix? ›

Is The Little Mermaid coming to Netflix? Unfortunately, The Little Mermaid will not be coming to Netflix. It hits theaters on Friday, May 26, 2023 and then will be on Disney+ after that. As a Disney movie, this isn't really surprising.

Is The Little Mermaid on Amazon Prime? ›

Amazon Prime's current catalog does not include 'The Little Mermaid.' However, the film may eventually release on the platform as video-on-demand in the coming months.fantasy movies on Amazon Prime's official website. Viewers who are looking for something similar can Watch the original show 'Dororo.'

Is mermaids streaming anywhere? ›

A sexy and unpredictable single mother of two is a source of constant embarrassment to her confused 15-year-old daughter, who's trying to deal with her own sexual awakening. Get Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+, all with ads, for $12.99/mo. Get Hulu, Disney+, and ESPN+, all with ads, for $12.99/mo.

What is the new mermaid TV show? ›

An elusive mermaid pursued by an illegal treasure hunter finds herself caught in a star crossed love affair, which threatens her survival in a town fueled by blackmail and secrets hidden in ...

How did they film The Little Mermaid 2023? ›

Though much of the film takes place in the water, many of the underwater sequences were filmed with actors rigged into harnesses that hung in the air, and CGI was later applied to give the effect of being underwater. What do you think?

Which Disney park has Little Mermaid? ›

The Little Mermaid - Ariel's Undersea Adventure | California Adventure Park | Disneyland Resort.

Which Disney resort has The Little Mermaid room? ›

The Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation Resort are the most expensive standard Value Resort rooms in all of Walt Disney World. This review features room photos, our thoughts on the rooms, whether they are worth the money, and other basics about the Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation Resort.

Which Disney World park has The Little Mermaid? ›

At Magic Kingdom Park, all guests can capture this Animated Magic Shot by visiting the Disney PhotoPass photographer near Prince Eric's castle.

Why did Chloe Grace Moretz quit The Little Mermaid? ›

Now, aged 21, Chloë explains what prompted that decision. “I pulled out of a bunch of stuff I was attached to, to reconfigure who I was and reconnect with the projects that I will be choosing in the future,” the actress tells Yahoo Movies UK.

When did The Little Mermaid lose her head? ›

The headless mermaid

Twice she has lost her head, once the arm was sawn off, and several times she has had paint poured on her.

How much did the original Little Mermaid make? ›

The Little Mermaid was released to theaters on November 17, 1989, to critical acclaim, earning praise for the animation, music, and characters. It was also a commercial success, garnering $84 million at the domestic box office during its initial release, and $235 million in total lifetime gross worldwide.


1. Under the Sea Song Scene - The Little Mermaid (2023)
2. The Little Mermaid - Official 'Kiss the Girl' Clip (2023) Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King
3. The Little Mermaid 2023 NEW Ursula SNIPPET | Melissa McCarthy
4. The Little Mermaid - Absolute Bilge
(The Critical Drinker)
5. THE LITTLE MERMAID (2023) | It Time To Stop, Disney!
(Thorias Unlimited)
6. The Little Mermaid - Official 'The Cast Goes Under The Sea' Featurette (2023) Halle Bailey
(IGN Movie Trailers)


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