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The Little Mermaid is an upcoming American musical fantasy film directed by Rob Marshall from a screenplay by Jane Goldman and David Magee. Produced by Walt Disney Pictures, it is a live action/CGI adaptation remake of the 1989 Walt Disney Animation Studios feature film of the same name, which is itself based on Hans Christian Andersen's eponymous tale. Serving as producers are Marshall, John DeLuca, Marc Platt, and Lin-Manuel Miranda, the latter whom will co-write new songs for the remake with the original film's composer/co-songwriter, Alan Menken, with Menken also returning to compose the score. The film will star Halle Bailey, Jonah Hauer-King, Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy with Daveed Diggs, Jacob Tremblay, and Awkwafina in voice roles. It will be released on May 26 2023.

Synopsis

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.

Cast

  • Halle Bailey as Princess Ariel: A mermaid and King Triton's youngest daughter who is fascinated with the human world. Director Rob Marshall said that "Halle possesses that rare combination of spirit, heart, youth, innocence, and substance — plus a glorious singing voice — all intrinsic qualities necessary to play this iconic role", and that the film is about "[Ariel] finding her voice [...] And that immediately just felt like an interesting, timely piece that resonated with [the production crew]". Bailey said that she wanted to bring "freshness" to the character. She also said that "[i]t's amazing that the directors have been so forward in asking [her] to show [her] true self... that's been a really fun growing experience". Co-star Daveed Diggs said that the remake will give "some more power" to Ariel than the original film.
  • Jonah Haeur-King as Prince Eric, a prince whom Ariel falls in love with after saving him from drowning, while he becomes determined to find Ariel.
  • Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, a sea witch whom Ariel makes a deal with to become a human, which is secretly part of Ursula's plan to take over Atlantica.
  • Javier Bardem as King Triton, Ariel's overprotective father and the king of Atlantica, who is prejudiced towards humans.
  • Emily Coates

Voices

  • Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, a loyal crab and King Triton's trusted servant who watches over Ariel.
  • Akwafina as Scuttle, a dim-witted diving bird and a friend of Ariel's, to whom she provides inaccurate descriptions of any object Ariel finds. The character will be portrayed as a female diving bird instead of a male seagull as in the original in order to both fit the actress' gender and feature her in underwater scenes.
  • Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, an easily scared tropical fish who is Ariel's best friend.

Production

Development

On May 25, 2016, Deadline Hollywood reported that Disney is in early development for a live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid. On August 16, 2016, it was announced that Lin-Manuel Miranda, a fan of the original film, will co-produce the film with Marc Platt. Studio veterans Lindsay Lohan and Chris Evans expressed interest in starring in the adaptation.

On December 6, 2017, it was reported that Rob Marshall was being courted by the Walt Disney Company to direct the film, while Jane Goldman will serve as screenwriter. On December 5, 2018, Marshall revealed that he, along with John DeLuca and Marc Platt were hired to begin developing the project for film adaptation, and said that "John and [Marshall] have begun our work trying to explore it and figure it out", as he felt that "it's a very complicated movie to take from animation to live-action. Live-action's a whole other world so you have to be very careful about how that's done, but so we're starting the exploration phase". Later in December, Marshall was officially hired as director for the film. During an interview on December 21, 2018, Marshall revealed that the film is in very early stages of development, stating that the studio is trying to explore ways to translate the original film's story into live-action. On July 3, 2019, David Magee, who previously wrote the screenplay for Marshall's Mary Poppins Returns, was revealed to have written the script with Goldman. On February 10, 2020, Miranda revealed that rehearsals for the film had already begun.

Casting

On June 28, 2019, it was announced that Melissa McCarthy was in talks to play Ursula in the film. The next month, Jacob Tremblay, Awkwafina, Halle Bailey, and Javier Bardem joined the cast while Harry Styles was considering the role of Prince Eric. However, Styles was later revealed to have turned down the part.

In October, Daveed Diggs, who previously worked on Miranda's musical Hamilton, joined the cast. In November 2019, it was reported that Jonah Hauer-King had been cast as Eric. Cameron Cuffe was also in the running for the role, before Hauer-King was cast.

On February 18, 2020, McCarthy confirmed her casting as Ursula during an interview on The Ellen DeGeneres Show: "I play Ursula, the sea witch. It is so fun, we're just in rehearsals. It's been an absolute blast. Stepping into the world of Rob Marshall, it's like a fever dream, I just went to London for a week, I was like, 'I don't get to go to dance camp for a week.' All day he's like, 'Do you want to slide down this 40-foot clam shell?' I'm like, 'Yes! Of course I do. What are you, crazy?' It's been wildly creative."

In July 2020, it was announced that Kacey Musgraves was considered for the part of Vanessa (Ursula's human form), but she turned down the role. In October 2020, actress Emily Coates joined the film in an undisclosed role. In December 2020, Disney officially announced seven principal actors while also debuting the film's official logo.

Casting controversy

Bailey's casting as Ariel was met with a polarized response in social media. By July 5, 2019, the hashtag #NotMyAriel was reported to have become the number one topic after Bailey's casting. On July 6, 2019, Disney released a statement defending Bailey's casting. On July 15, 2019, a poll revealed that Bailey's casting was met with a mostly positive response. Jodi Benson, Ariel's original voice actress, also defended Bailey's casting, by arguing that "[t]he most important thing is to tell the story" and that "the spirit of a character is what really matters". During an interview on August 12, 2019, Bailey said that "[she doesn't] pay attention to the negativity", while Auliʻi Cravalho, who played Ariel in a musical presentation as a part of The Wonderful World of Disney, expressed excitement at watching Bailey's portrayal of the character. Brandy, the first Black actress to play Cinderella on-screen in the racially diverse TV film of the same name, and Anika Noni Rose, the voice of Tiana from The Princess and the Frog, also both praised the casting of Bailey.

Filming

Principal photography was originally scheduled to begin in April 2020, in London. However, it was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. On July 29, 2020, Tremblay began recording his lines for the film. Filming was scheduled to re-commence on August 10, 2020 however, it was delayed yet again to November/early-December 2020 in order to accommodate McCarthy's production schedule for the Hulu miniseries, Nine Perfect Strangers. In December 2020, McCarthy stated that she would hopefully begin filming the movie in January 2021.

By November 2020, Disney's new CEO Bob Chapek announced that filming on all movies that had been postponed by the coronavirus had resumed filming, and in some cases completed principal photography.

Music

On March 17, 2017, it was announced that Alan Menken, who previously scored and co-wrote songs for the original film, would return as the film's composer and to write new songs alongside producer Lin-Manuel Miranda. Three months later, Menken stated that his work on the film's music had put on hold due to Miranda and Marc Platt's schedules with Mary Poppins Returns. On May 20, 2019, Menken stated that The Little Mermaid would be his next project, following the release of the live-action adaptation of Aladdin, and on July 9, he and Miranda started working on new songs for the film. On replacing the original film's lyricist, the late Howard Ashman, Miranda felt that "[he] will definitely fall short" to Ashman's work, arguing that "no one can write like him". On September 17, 2019, it was reported that Menken and Miranda wrote a new song for Prince Eric, which Menken confirmed on October 11, 2019, and revealed that he and Miranda wrote "like four or five new songs" for the film, including a new song for Eric and Ariel, a new song for King Triton as well as a song for Scuttle. On January 16, 2020, Halle Bailey confirmed that the song "Part of Your World", from the original film, will appear in the remake. On February 10, 2020, Miranda revealed that he and Menken wrote four new songs for the film. On March 22, 2020, Menken revealed that the songs for the film have already been recorded.

Trivia

  • This is the fourth collaboration between Rob Marshall and Disney after Marshall previously directed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Into the Woods and Mary Poppins Returns.

Gallery

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