Which ‘Little Mermaid’ Songs Were Hardest To Cut – And Which One Never Made It?

in Disney, Entertainment

Songs cut from live-action little mermaid javier bardem king triton chef louis les poissons

Credit: Disney/ITM

It’s only one more day until Disney’s live-action Little Mermaid flips its fins into theaters, and the buzz online is palpable.

While there were some initial worries about the film’s box office earnings, and other concerns that it would be review-bombed by racists who are still upset about Halle Bailey’s casting, it seems all is well; The film’s predicted earnings seem to tick upward every day, and so far most of the online reviews from advanced screenings are stellar.

These positive feelings are due in no small part to the beautiful musical performances in the film – from Halle Bailey herself to the show-stealing Melissa McCarthy, the voices in this film are strong, and they’re backed up by some of the best-written music in the Disney catalogue.

The music is so good, in fact, that when some of it inevitably had to end up on the cutting room floor, director Rob Marshall and producer John DeLuca had a hard time letting a few songs go.

Javier Bardem’s Song As King Triton Was Hardest To Cut

Javier Bardem as King Triton in The Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

Related: ‘Little Mermaid’ Soundtrack Criticism Prompts a Question: Why Forget Broadway?

As is the case with any new movie version of a musical, there were a few new songs added just for the film. One such song was an emotional ballad for King Triton, which would have given audiences more insight into his inner struggle as a father.

The song, however, didn’t fit in with the rest of the show. As Marshall explained to The Hollywood Reporter:

We do musicals on stage as well, and when you take a play or a musical out of town, you learn what works. So the movie tells you, and what we learned very quickly was that [Bardem’s song] was robbing from the ending of the film. You have to protect that moment where Triton’s inner feelings are revealed and he comes to terms with Ariel and learns to let her go. So the song robbed from that moment, and it was very important to protect it.

However, the fact that the song was cut doesn’t mean we’ll never get to hear it; Marshall and DeLuca don’t plan on letting such a beautiful performance go to waste.

He was so spectacular in the song, and it sounds amazing. So we’ll be able to share that new piece with the world after the film comes out, but you learn to listen to what the film tells you.

Other songs, however, were much, much easier to cut.

Which Classic ‘Little Mermaid’ Song Never Made The First Draft?

Halle Bailey playing Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid' (2023)
Credit: Disney

Related: Fans Disappointed With ‘Little Mermaid’ Choice

There was one song in particular from the 1989 version of The Little Mermaid that Marshall and DeLuca simply couldn’t find a place for, and that was the can-can chase scene “Les Poissons,” sung by Chef Louis – a character who does not otherwise feature in the film.

As fun as the song is, DeLuca and Marshall agreed that there was simply no way to make it work with the rest of the film – it was simply too cartoon-y.

It’s literally a Saturday morning cartoon section. If we had filmed it — I don’t know how we would’ve filmed it — it never would have played. It’s also a vacation from the story and has nothing to do with the story, so you can’t do that in a live-action film. That was a wonderful animated concept, but like I said, we’re in a different genre. So it was very important to keep the story moving forward in a very live-action way. 

Related: One Week Early: Live-Action ‘Little Mermaid’ Soundtrack Now Available

As soon as they made the choice to keep Sebastian and the rest of the sea creatures as realistic as possible, they knew that “Les Poissons” would never fit in with the rest of the film. None of that scene is based, in any way, on realism, and Chef Louis doesn’t even move like a real human the way the rest of the animated characters do.

So some songs remained on the cutting room floor because they would never be able to live up to the cartoon version, and others were removed because they distracted too much from the story that was already there – but they were all clearly done with the utmost of care, and with the end goal of creating a beautiful film that honors the original.

You can see how all that care paid off when The Little Mermaid comes to theaters everywhere tomorrow.

What do you think of the choice to cut “Les Poissons?” Are you disappointed about Javier Bardem’s song? Let us know in the comments.

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