Release Date, Cast, Trailer & Everything We Know

It’s been 33 years since Ariel first entranced audiences as she learned to become part of our world, and in 2023 The Little Mermaid is getting Disney’s live-action reboot treatment — and there’s been plenty of live-action Little Mermaid updates to build anticipation. The Little Mermaid is set to follow in the steps of previous live-action Disney movies like Mulan, The Jungle Book, Aladdin, and the 2017 Beauty and the Beast remake. It will keep most of the original songs and spiritually carry the torch of the original The Little Mermaid but with a (sometimes controversial) reimagining for modern audiences, and the visual spectacle only possible thanks to blending live-action with CGI.


In 1989, Disney brought its own version of the fairy tale to the screen. It tells the story of Ariel, a mermaid princess who falls in love with a human and the world in which he lives. To be with him, she trades her voice for becoming a human. The Little Mermaid was a hit upon its release, and it remains a beloved Disney movie, so it’s not surprising that it soon got its own live-action reboot. The 2023 The Little Mermaid remake cast has created a lot of conversations, as have the trailers and plenty of pre-release glimpses of the rejuvenated songs that made the 1989 original such a hit. Here are all the live-action The Little Mermaid updates and news so far ahead of the May 2023 release date.

The Latest The Little Mermaid Live-Action Remake News

Ariel and Prince Eric in a boat looking up in The Little Mermaid

The latest live-action Little Mermaid update is the critical consensus as most professional reviews for The Little Mermaid are in given the movie’s impending release. The live-action Little Mermaid movie has a “fresh” 73% on Rotten Tomatoes, which is great news following a couple of underwhelming live-action Disney remakes. The movie has been criticized for what is often the case with Disney’s remakes though. Lovia Gyarkye of The Hollywood Reporter noted, “There’s a nagging sense of risk-aversion — narratively, at least — and that wariness makes the fun it does have feel sanctioned.”

However, for the most part, the movie had been praised, especially for Halle Bailey’s performance as Ariel. Screen Rant’s The Little Mermaid review mentioned, “Brimming with an eagerness that will not be tamped down, Bailey captures the essence of the beloved princess, from her headstrong nature to her naïveté.” The reviews are hardly surprising, and the score is what has come to be expected for live-action remakes. However, following the live-action remakes The Lion King and Aladdin, which have “rotten” scores of 52% and 57%, respectively, The Little Mermaid is great by comparison and hints at a strong live-action Disney remake, even if it is a little too similar to the original movie.

Other live-action Little Mermaid updates center on Aladdin star Mena Mssoud, who played Aladdin in the 2019 version, made some comments about the live-action The Little Mermaid remake and found himself in hot water. When commenting on Little Mermaid reaching the $1 billion mark on Twitter, Massoud went online to comment that Aladdin reached it because audiences went to see it multiple times. However, he doesn’t think that will happen with Little Mermaid, which he sees falling short of the mark, but will “undoubtedly get a sequel.”

The Little Mermaid 2023 Remake Release Date

little mermaid official look ariel

The live action Little Mermaid updates revealed the release date as May 26, 2023. The Little Mermaid live-action film wrapped up production in July 2021, prompting many to believe that the film could come out somewhere in mid-2022. However, that prediction has been proven inaccurate, as a release date has been confirmed by Disney. The extra time has allowed the visual effects team to perfect the underwater look for Ariel’s home.

Studios have confirmed that the remake will receive a theatrical release, but it’s unsure when the film will make the jump to Disney+. As of late, Disney movies have been released exclusively to Disney+ rather than going to theaters, such as the streaming Enchanted sequel Disenchanted. When films do go to theaters, they’ve tended to hit Disney+ about three months later, which was the case with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.

The Little Mermaid Live-Action Cast

Halle Bailey as Skylar in Grown-ish and as Ariel in The Little Mermaid

The live action Little Mermaid updates revealed the cast counts on both well-established actors and newcomers who will benefit from starring in a big production like this. The leading roles and the ensemble cast are filled with musically talented actors as well, which is important for the scope of the songs in the movie. Playing the lead role of Ariel is Halle Bailey, best known for being one half of the duo Chloe x Halle and for her role as Skylar Forster in Grown-ish.

She’s joined by Melissa McCarthy as the villain Ursula though McCarthy’s casting in the Disney role was divisive. Although she’s known as a great comedic talent, Ursula’s final design in the animated movie was inspired by legendary drag queen Divine, and there was a desire by fans to see a modern-day drag queen embody the role as well. The movie will also feature Javier Bardem as King Triton, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, and Art Malik as Grimsby (Eric’s majordomo).

Ariel’s sisters are played by Sienna King, Karolina Conchet, Nathalie Sorrell, Kasja Mohammar, Lorena Andrea, and Bridgerton’s Simone Ashley. Rounding out the cast for The Little Mermaid are the actors who will lend their voices to some of the most unforgettable characters including Sebastian (Daveed Diggs), Flounder (Jacob Tremblay), and Scuttle (Awkwafina). Noma Dumezweni has been cast in an undisclosed role. It’s possible she will play Ariel’s mother, who didn’t feature in the animated movie.

The Live-Action Little Mermaid Story — What’s Changed From The Original

Ariel peeking around a piece of a shipwreck in The Little Mermaid live-action trailer

The live-action Little Mermaid updates explains that the story is all about Halle Bailey’s Princess Ariel who dreams of exploring the human world and falls in love with a prince, leading her to make a dangerous deal with Ursula. The sea witch tricks the young princess in order for her to fail to be kissed by Eric and thus has her become her slave. However, like in any other Disney classic, love always triumphs, and Prince Eric and Ariel have their happily ever after.

While much of the story will remain the same, the relationship between Ariel and Eric is getting a bit more fleshed out. While the two are immediately drawn to one another in the animated movie, the live-action film will feature the two finding common ground. Eric, like Ariel, finds himself feeling like an outsider in his world as well. The Little Mermaid is expected to be modernized for Ariel as well as she explores her freedom, not just seeks to land a prince.

While some of these changes drew criticism from fans of the original movie, original Ariel voice actor Jodi Benson has responded to the criticism in recent live action Little Mermaid updates. Benson explained, “It’s very important to stay relevant with where we are, what’s going on around us. We need to be aware. So the adjustments and the fine-tuning that they needed to do, it was a must, but it was done in a beautiful way, and I’m very, very thrilled with it.”

The Little Mermaid is also set to be a longer movie than the original animated one. While the animated movie is 83 minutes long, the live-action The Little Mermaid is listed for AMC Theaters bookings at 2 hours and 15 minutes. That is nearly an hour longer than the original film but is likely due to longer credit sequences, additional musical numbers, and a few more scenes to flesh out character backstory, much like previous live-action Disney adaptations have done.

The movie will be a musical adaptation like Aladdin and Beauty And The Beast before it, but it will also feature new music. Lin Manuel-Miranda lent his musical talents to the movie. He worked with original composer Alan Menken, to help compose four new songs for it. It also won’t just be Ariel and Eric who gain some changes in the story. According to Alan Menken, some of the classic songs will be updated for the modern day with slight lyric changes to Ursula’s “Poor Unfortunate Souls” and Sebastian’s “Kiss The Girl” to make certain lines less offensive for modern audiences.

Other news and updates on the live-action Little Mermaid haven’t been universally well-received by fans of the 1989 original, specifically because of changes that are being made for the 2023 remake. This includes the removal of the song “Daughters of Triton” from the new movie. The song sung by Ariel’s sisters to introduce themselves and the – much to King Triton’s ire and Sebastian’s dismay – absent Ariel, won’t be in the live-action The Little Mermaid. When asked about removing the song, composer Alan Menken said it didn’t feel the feel of the live-action movie. “We didn’t it need in this particular version. And we definitely wanted the film to start with a much more of a live-action feel of the ocean and meeting Ariel.”

There was also a change to Triton’s costume according to another one of the many live-action Little Mermaid updates. Javier Bardem plays King Triton in the new movie, and he explained why this change happened in the film. The updated aesthetic for The Little Mermaid’s new live-action interpretation has changed Triton’s look by adding armor over his chest. This is different from the animated movie, where he is shirtless. “That would’ve taken a lot of work. Also, it’s not because I didn’t want to,” Bardem explained, “It is very distracting to have somebody like that the whole [time]. It makes sense that he’s covered by a great, beautiful shell.”

The Little Mermaid Live-Action Remake Trailer

Melissa McCarthy as Ursula first look in The Little Mermaid trailer

The official teaser for The Little Mermaid remake arrived on September 9, 2022. The teaser depicts Halle Bailey’s Ariel swimming through her magical cove and singing the character’s famous song, “Part of Your World.” Audiences also get a glimpse of Flounder swimming at her side. Other famous characters, such as Scuttle, Sebastian, and Ursula, didn’t appear in their live-action forms until the full-length trailer released in March 2023. The full-length trailer for The Little Mermaid has given fans a much better look at the world Disney created under the sea for the new adaptation. Iconic sequences from the animated movie, like Ariel saving Eric, “Under The Sea,” and her deal with Ursula can all be glimpsed in their new live-action glory.

Though the television spots for The Little Mermaid increased fan interest in the project, the full-length trailer for the live-action adaptation proves that Disney hasn’t lost its touch. Though Disney has also released more teaser spots and begun to roll out the music for the movie’s soundtrack. One of the most anticipated, since the music has been used since the first teaser for the movie, is Halle Bailey’s version of “Part Of Your World.” Also released for the movie is a series of new character posters giving fans clear looks at characters like Flounder, Sebastian, and Ursula. They also include new looks at King Triton, Prince Eric, and Scuttle.

There was also a new clip released based on live action Little Mermaid updates. This clip recreates the iconic moment Ursula works out her deal with a young Ariel to make her human in the new movie. Melissa McCarthy, who plays Ursula shared the clip herself. The scene is similar to the original animated movie where Ursula agrees to turn Ariel human for three days, but she will have to receive a kiss from Prince Eric or she will return to her life as a mermaid and fall into Ursula’s clutches.

According to Disney, between streaming access and television spots, the live-action trailer for The Little Mermaid has been viewed over 108 million times around the world. The increased interest is good news for Disney. Disney’s live-action movies haven’t always had the most excitement around them, but that could be changing. It looks like the live-action The Little Mermaid will show an exciting new side to the famed Disney princess while maintaining the spellbinding magic of the original.

What The Live-Action Little Mermaid Cast Have Told Screen Rant About The Remake

Melissa McCarthy as the banished sea witch Ursula using magic in the live-action The Little Mermaid

The cast of the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid have given plenty of updates about what to expect from the 2023 movie prior to its release in May. Awkwafina and Jacob Tremblay spoke to Screen Rant about the live-action The Little Mermaid about their roles in the movie. Awkwafina talked about her improvisation as Scuttle while Tremblay revealed some of his thoughts on honoring Flounder while making the live-action version of Ariel’s fish best friend unique.

For Awkwafina, she remarked, “I saw it for the first time the other night, and I was genuinely surprised by some of the things that Scuttle says.” She mentioned improvising a line that she never thought would make the final cut. Tremblay mentioned, “I want to stay true to the original one because I feel like the most important part of his character is how loyal he is and how friendly he is.” However, he also said that he wanted to make it his own outside of that.

For the actors portraying the senior generation of characters in The Little Mermaid, Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy sat down to also talk about their parts in the movie as King Triton and Ursula. Melissa said she wanted to create the idea that Ursula’s mental health was not great, making her a more well-rounded character. “I think she’s been isolated. She’s shunned from her family. She’s been alone. She’s not been offered a family of her own or anything. I think the revenge and the mania of her became really real.” Javier then went on to say there should be a spinoff about Ursula and Triton as squabbling siblings.

Finally, the lead and love interest of The Little Mermaid remake gave some fascinating insight into their own expectations and hopes for how the movie is received. Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King talked to Screen Rant about their roles as Ariel and Prince Eric. There had been notable controversy around Halle Bailey’s casting when it was announced, so it’s refreshing to see that her focus remains on the legacy of The Little Mermaid and Ariel as a character — a dedication that has translated into an outstanding performance, judging by The Little Mermaid trailers released in 2022 and 2023.

When asked about what she hoped for from the positive reactions, Bailey said that she wants this movie to reach the kids in the theaters the most. “It just warms me up, fills me with so much joy, and makes me feel like this is all for a reason. There’s purpose in this.” She said it was a chance to give little kids a new role model – an important aspect given Ariel’s always notable popularity as a character with younger viewers even among Disney princesses (she is a mermaid, after all). As for Hauer-King, he appreciated that the live-action The Little Mermaid fleshed out Eric. “We wanted to have some more complexity for him. We wanted to understand who he was and what he wanted.”

Source link