- The Little Mermaid will hit theaters on May 26, 2023
- The full trailer was released during the 2023 Oscars on March 12.
- Halle Bailey and Melissa McCarthy star in the film.
The Little Mermaid is one of the most highly-anticipated films of 2023. Halle Bailey is starring in the live-action version of this fairytale, which will be released this Memorial Day weekend. On March 8, Disney unveiled the official Little Mermaid poster, featuring Halle Bailey’s Ariel sitting on a rock in the ocean, just like the visual from the original film. Disney then released the full trailer during the 2023 Academy Awards on March 12. On May 8, the cast came together for the Los Angeles world premiere of the film. Halle has been doing many interviews promoting her life-changing movie.
Words can’t describe how immensely honored I feel to play the mermaid of my dreams, Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Come under the sea with me, in theaters May 26, 2023 🧜🏽♀️ pic.twitter.com/EEkxvLpt7q
— Halle (@HalleBailey) October 13, 2022
The original version of The Little Mermaid made a huge splash when it was released in 1989, and Ariel became one of the most beloved Disney Princesses. The film’s success initiated the Disney Renaissance, a period of animated Disney classics that also included The Lion King, Aladdin, and Beauty and the Beast.
The original Little Mermaid won two Oscars: Best Original Song for “Under the Sea” and Best Original Score. The upcoming live-action film is sure to make waves in Hollywood just like its predecessor. HollywoodLife has all the latest updates about the live-action Little Mermaid.
The Little Mermaid Footage
The 1-minute teaser trailer showed Halle Bailey’s Ariel swimming under the sea. The live-action version of Ariel’s look is gorgeous. The final moments of the trailer feature Halle singing the iconic “Part of Your World.” As of April 2023, the teaser trailer has over 28 million views on YouTube. The official trailer, which was released on March 12, has over 12 million views.
— Walt Disney Studios (@DisneyStudios) March 8, 2023
In The Little Mermaid teaser that dropped in February, fans got their first look at Melissa McCarthy’s Ursula and Ariel’s stunning underwater world. “Words can’t describe how immensely honored I feel to play the mermaid of my dreams, Ariel in Disney’s The Little Mermaid. Come under the sea with me, in theaters May 26, 2023,” Halle tweeted last year.
A new exclusive sneak peek of the film was released during the MTV Movie & TV Awards on May 7. In the clip, Halle and Jonah Hauer-King were pictured in the famous boat scene where Ariel and Prince Eric have a romantic evening and nearly share a kiss before they land in the water. Daveed Diggs‘ character, Sebastian, also made a cameo in the clip.
— Movie & TV Awards (@MTVAwards) May 8, 2023
Release Date & Where To Watch
The Little Mermaid will be released in theaters on May 26, 2023. The movie has not been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic and is expected to release exclusively in theaters.
The Little Mermaid will not premiere simultaneously on Disney+ with Premier Access. As theaters recover in the wake of the pandemic, Disney has stopped simultaneous releases. After its initial theater run, The Little Mermaid will likely become available on Disney+ at a later date.
The Little Mermaid Live-Action Cast & Crew
Halle Bailey stars as Ariel in the live-action Little Mermaid. Director Rob Marshall released a statement in July 2019 about Halle after her casting was announced: “After an extensive search, it was abundantly clear 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.”
— Variety (@Variety) August 7, 2019
Halle opened up about her audition process in a May 2023 interview with Glamour. “I was almost just paralyzed with fear,” Halle said, revealing that her sister Chloe Bailey helped her with the process. “We’d run it and we’d run it and we’d run it, over and over,” she said. Speaking about the moment she learned she got the part, Halle said, “I freaked out, I was screaming I was like, Is this real life? I was catapulted into this new world.”
Halle’s casting sparked some cruel online backlash over a Black actress playing the role, and the singer/actress broke her silence about playing Ariel in August 2019. “I feel like I’m dreaming and I’m just grateful and I don’t pay attention to the negativity,” Halle told Variety. “I just feel like this role was something bigger than me and greater and it’s going to be beautiful. I’m just so excited to be a part of it.”
In an August 2022 interview with Variety for their annual Power of Young Hollywood issue, Halle revealed that she got words of wisdom from her grandparents when dealing with casting criticism. “It was an inspiring and beautiful thing to hear their words of encouragement, telling me, ‘You don’t understand what this is doing for us, for our community, for all the little Black and brown girls who are going to see themselves in you,’” Halle said.
— Walt Disney Studios (@DisneyStudios) March 8, 2023
Halle again addressed the backlash towards her casting in an April 2023 interview with Entertainment Weekly. She noted that there’s “been a lot of different opinions and comments” about her role in the film. “I just have to block out the noise,” Halle said. “I don’t really see a lot of the comments. I choose to not read them, or delete Twitter, things like that, and just accept this moment for me what it is, which is a big, beautiful blessing and opportunity for me.”
Halle has shared what it means to be the first Black actress to play Ariel. “I really hope that I put my own stamp on her character by showing more of her vulnerability,” Halle told Glamour. “I felt like I could relate to her growing up in a big family and having older sisters to guide you, and having a father that’s very protective and overbearing at times but loves so hard.”
When filming wrapped in July 2021, Halle posted a long message about how “grateful” she was to be a part of this movie. She also shared a photo of herself as Ariel on the ocean shore.
“And just like that..that’s a wrap after auditioning for this film when i was 18 just about to turn 19 , to now finishing filming through a pandemic when i turned 21 ..we have finally made it… i feel so grateful to have experienced this film in all of its glory..it has been the toughest experience being away from everything and everyone i’ve ever known, to feeling self doubt/ loneliness, but also feeling such freedom and perseverance as i’ve reached the end,” Halle wrote. “This experience has made me so much stronger than i ever thought i could be. i’m so grateful to have such lovely and talented people in the cast like @jonahhauerking that will be my friend for infinite lifetimes, @jacobtremblay who i’m so proud of and legends like @bardemantarctic @melissamccarthy @awkwafina @daveeddiggs who are masters of their craft but are so welcoming and open to little old me..as well as to the rest of the beautiful cast and crew. i cannot wait for time to speed up so you all can watch this film because it was made with so much love (plus blood sweat and tears) lol thank you sardinia for a wonderful ending!!!”
Prior to The Little Mermaid, Halle starred in the Freeform series grown-ish alongside her sister, Chloe Bailey. The sisters are also a musical duo called Chloe x Halle. They have 5 Grammy nominations under their belt since 2018.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 9, 2023
Jodi Benson, who voiced Ariel in the 1989 Disney movie, praised Halle and revealed to The Hollywood Reporter why she’s the perfect actress to play Ariel: “Her pure spirit, her joy, the love. Her unbelievable vulnerability, her authenticity, her bravery, her courage. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful telling of the Ariel story. I’m so proud of her.”
Jonah Hauer-King plays Prince Eric, the human prince whom Ariel falls in love with after she makes a deal with Ursula to become human. Jonah is a British actor known for his roles in films like The Last Photograph and A Dog’s Way Home, as well as the TV miniseries Howards End and Little Women.
— The Hollywood Reporter (@THR) May 9, 2023
“For me, this experience and playing this character was about bringing as much three-dimensionality to this as I could and making him as well-rounded a person as possible,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the May 8 premiere. “I wanted to be able to connect with him on a deeper level, regardless of anyone else. I wanted to understand who he was and give him more of a backstory, understand what he wants in the world, understand what troubled him. I think ultimately what was special about that is in getting to know him better we got to know him and Ariel’s relationship better.”
Melissa McCarthy will play Ursula, the evil sea witch. Melissa rose to fame on Gilmore Girls and earned Oscar nominations for Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Bridesmaids. “I play Ursula, the sea witch. It is so fun, we’re just in rehearsals. It’s been an absolute blast,” Melissa said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2020. “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.”
Melissa told Entertainment Weekly that she “100 percent” used drag as an influence for her role in The Little Mermaid. “There’s a drag queen that lives in me,” Melissa said. “I’m always right on the verge of going full-time with her. Melissa also said that “there’s such an edge” to her version of Ursula.
Javier Bardem is starring as King Triton, Ariel’s father and the King of Atlantica. Javier was recently nominated for his role as Desi Arnaz in Being the Ricardos.
Daveed Diggs will voice Sebastian, the worrisome crab who watches over Ariel. Daveed spoke EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife about Halle’s portrayal of Ariel. “I just think that Halle is just the perfect choice for Ariel…everyone is going to fall in love with her immediately,” the actor said. “She is so, so good. Her voice is not of this world. The things she can do vocally is something — I have never heard anything like it.”
Room star Jacob Tremblay voices the role of Flounder, Ariel’s best friend who is a tropical fish. Awkwafina will voice Scuttle, the diving bird who is a friend to Ariel. For the live-action Little Mermaid, Scuttle will be a female diving bird instead of a male seagull.
There’s been some controversy over Flounder’s look in the film. Some fans think the fish could be bigger and more similar to the animated version. “I couldn’t really imagine it a different way, if that makes sense. I think it worked perfectly; they were really smart about it,” Jacob told The Hollywood Reporter about Flounder’s look in the live-action movie.
Additional cast members include Jude Akuwudike as Grimsby, Lorena Andrea as Perla, and Kajsa Mohammar as Karina, along with Noma Dumezweni, Jessica Alexander, Russell Balogh, Adrian Christopher, Emily Coates, and Bridgerton breakout Simone Ashley in undisclosed roles.
Rob Marshall is directing The Little Mermaid. Rob had nothing but praise for Halle as soon as he saw her audition. “Halle had this incredible facility to be able to dig deep, find the truth of Ariel’s passion and her heart,” he told Variety. “It was like watching a great film actor being born.”
Rob is also producing the film with John DeLuca, Marc Platt, and Lin-Manuel Miranda. Lin-Manuel is the lyricist for the film and co-wrote original songs for The Little Mermaid remake. Alan Menken, who was the composer of the original Little Mermaid, is returning for the live-action film as the composer for the score and songs. The screenplay was penned by Jane Goldman and David Magee.
Will There Be Changes From The Original?
The new Little Mermaid is loosely based on the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale of the same name. The movie is a remake of the animated Disney classic which follows Ariel, a mermaid princess who strikes a deal with a sea witch to become human so she can be with the human prince she’s fallen in love with.
Many of your favorite Little Mermaid songs from the original movie will be a part of the remake. Halle admitted during an Oscars pre-show that “Part of Your World” was her “number one” song.
Rob revealed that the live-action version of “Part of Your World” won’t be an exact recreation of the original. “[Halle] sings that moment up an octave from the original,” Rob revealed to Variety. “It’s the most chilling, and the most thrilling, film moment because it crystallizes not just her incredible vocal ability but the emotional passion she has in singing it.”
The director also noted that Halle’s Ariel will have red hair. Halle will have her signature locs with some looser tresses. “She looks stunning in red hair; not everybody does,” he said.
However, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken are teaming up to also write new songs for the film’s soundtrack. “I actually didn’t write any new songs for Sebastian the Crab because I love his songs so much. I was like, ‘I can’t. Nope, not me. I can’t do it.’ I did get to write for some of the other characters in that movie. Every song you love in The Little Mermaid is still in The Little Mermaid, we just found some new moments to musicalize,” Lin-Manuel told Collider.
Director Rob Marshall made his feature directorial debut with Chicago in 2002. He’s no stranger to the Disney universe. Rob has directed Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, Into The Woods, and Mary Poppins Returns.
Development on the live-action Little Mermaid goes back all the way to 2016. Filming was supposed to begin in early 2020 but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Principal photography at Pinewood Studios in England began in January 2021.
The movie was also filmed in Sardinia, Italy, for around three months. Production was halted in June 2021 after crew members tested positive for COVID-19. Filming eventually resumed and wrapped on July 11, 2021.
There were several notable names in talks for roles in The Little Mermaid. Harry Styles was in discussions for the role of Prince Eric, but he ultimately turned down the role. “I want to put music out and focus on that for a while,” he told The Face. “But everyone involved in it was amazing. So I think it’s going to be great… I’ll enjoy watching it, I’m sure.” Director Rob Marshall confirmed to Entertainment Weekly that he spoke to Harry about the role of Prince Eric, but the “As It Was” singer “really felt like he wanted to go off and do the movies that he ended up doing which were sort of darker.”
Singer Kacey Musgraves was reportedly in talks for the role of Vanessa, Ursula in her human form. However, the casting never came to fruition.