Let’s head back under the sea! Disney is set to release a live-action remake of their hit animated film The Little Mermaid in 2023.
The live-action venture will mark Disney’s latest attempt at recreating their older animated films for a new audience, like the recent retellings of The Lion King, Aladdin, Dumbo, Lady and the Tramp, and The Jungle Book. Disney has seen immense success with these live-action remakes, with The Lion King alone raking in nearly $1.7 billion at the box office.
The live-action retelling promises to tell the same story that made the original animated film so beloved more than 30 years ago. With that in mind, let’s look at everything we know about the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid. Will the plot closely follow the original, and will anything be added or left out? Who has been lined up in the cast? When and where can audiences see the film when it is released? And what else should audiences know about The Little Mermaid?
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The Little Mermaid: The Plot
As with Disney’s numerous other live-action remakes, it is expected that the plot will likely follow the same core structure as the original, with some added changes for a more modern audience. In the original 1989 film (spoiler alert), mermaid princess Ariel is fascinated with human life, though her father, King Triton, warns her that contacting humans is forbidden. When she falls for Prince Eric on a visit to the surface, she makes a deal with Ursula, the sea witch, to temporarily become human. When Ariel succeeds at winning Prince Eric’s heart, Ursula tries to kill Ariel, though Prince Eric kills Ursula first. The two then marry, with Ariel living permanently as a human with Triton’s blessing.
While we do not have much information about how the new film will approach the story, we can reasonably expect it to match that description. The official synopsis reads, “A young mermaid makes a deal with a sea witch: trading her beautiful voice to get human legs so she can discover the world above water.” With this, we know that, at the minimum, the core stories are the same.
The remake will make some changes that we know of. First, two new characters named Perla and Karina will be introduced. We do not yet know how they will play into the story, though since their characters were announced ahead of time, it is likely that their roles are significant. Also, the character of Scuttle the seagull has been changed from male to female, presumably to increase representation since Ariel’s other friends, Sebastian and Flounder, are both males.
This is all the information we have at this point, and we will likely have to wait until we approach closer to the release date for any more concrete information.
The Little Mermaid: The Cast
The film’s live-action cast will be led by Halle Bailey of the musical duo Chloe x Halle as the titular little mermaid, Ariel. Prince Eric will be played by Jonah Hauer-King, known for such films as The Last Photograph and A Dog’s Way Home. Ursula is set to be played by Melissa McCarthy, a rare antagonistic role for the iconic comedic actress. Ariel’s overprotective father, King Triton, is portrayed by Javier Bardem, who received critical acclaim for roles in Spanish films throughout the 1990s and 2000s.
Nigerian actor Jude Akuwudike will be playing Grimsby, the butler of Prince Eric, tasked with finding the right girl for him to marry. Prince Eric’s housekeeper Carlotta will be portrayed by Noma Dumezweni, who recently wrapped up a run as Hermione in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The new characters Perla and Karina are played by Lorena Andrea and Kajsa Mohammar, respectively.
The film also boasts some notable names in its voice cast. Ariel’s best friend Flounder will be voiced by child star Jacob Tremblay, known for his roles in Room, Good Boys, and Luca. Sebastian the crab, King Triton’s loyal servant, is played by Hamilton breakout and Snowpiercer star Daveed Diggs. The redesigned Scuttle is played by comedian and Crazy Rich Asians star Awkwafina.
In addition to the confirmed stars, we have some reported names with unknown roles. Jessica Alexander, Russell Balogh, Adrian Christopher, Emily Coates, and Simone Ashley have been cast in undisclosed roles. It is likely that more information about these roles, and any additional casting, will follow in the coming weeks and months.
The Little Mermaid will be released in theaters on May 26, 2023. That date allows Disney to capitalize on the holiday weekend to maximize potential profits. It remains to be seen if the film will reach the heights of hit remakes like The Lion King and The Jungle Book or if it will be more middle-of-the-road, like the underperforming Dumbo. In any case, it is unlikely that Disney will stop remaking its animated classics as live-action films any time soon.