Disney’s given their beloved animated films the live-action treatment for a while now, and their upcoming release of The Little Mermaid will be nothing short of epic. The original Little Mermaid was actually part of Disney’s Renaissance, which birthed iconic animated films like Aladdin and The Lion King (which also turned live-action in 2019). Just like Princess Ariel can’t wait to swap her mermaid fin for some human legs, we’re already getting excited to see the live-action rendition of this classic come to life.
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?
The Little Mermaid: 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 Plot of The Little Mermaid
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.
The Little Mermaid: Release Date
The movie was originally set to come out in 2021, but due to the pandemic, production was put on hold for a while. Then, Disney just announced that its live-action remake will hit theaters on Memorial Day weekend in 2023. Accordingly, The Little Mermaid will be released in theaters on May 26, 2023.
Have they finished filming?
Production started in 2020 and was originally based in London, but had to be pushed back during the Coronavirus pandemic, which Halle said: “caused everyone to slow down.” The Little Mermaid has since started filming in Sardina, Italy. Halle and Jonah were seen filming a scene on a boat (for “Kiss the Girl,” perhaps?) on a beach on June 28, 2021.
In an Instagram post, Halle revealed that filming for The Little Mermaid wrapped on July 12. “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,” she said in the photo’s caption.