‘The Little Mermaid’ Remake Officially Beats the Original

in Disney

Halle Bailey as Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid' 2023 and 'The Little Mermaid' Logo

Credit: Inside the Magic

It’s official: The Little Mermaid (2023) has overtaken its animated predecessor.

Released on May 26, The Little Mermaid retreads the same story as Walt Disney Animation’s The Little Mermaid (1989). Ariel (Halle Bailey) longs to live in the human world with Prince Eric (Jonah Hauer-King) – and when her father forbids her from going to the surface, she turns to the evil sea witch Ursula (Melissa McCarthy) to make her dream a reality.

Live-action 'Little Mermaid' shot
Credit: Disney

From “Under the Sea” to “Part of Your World,” the live-action remake features the same catchy jaunts as the original. Well, with a few minor adjustments. Disney caused controversy ahead of the film’s release when it revealed it had altered the lyrics to the likes of “Kiss the Girl” and “Poor Unfortunate Souls” to be more “sensitive.”

For The Little Mermaid’s biggest critics, this wasn’t the only issue. Halle Bailey’s casting triggered backlash among a very specific demographic who insisted that Ariel should, like the original, be a white redhead. Some fans also disagreed with Melissa McCarthy’s casting, suggesting that Disney should’ve hired a drag queen, as per Ursula’s inspiration in the 1989 animation.

Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, surrounded by electric eels
Credit: Disney

Once the film was released, critics also attacked the film’s CGI, as well as the new songs penned by Lin Manuel Miranda and Alan Menken (namely Awkwafina’s track “The Scuttlebutt.”)

Yet despite the internet’s determination to find fault with the film – and to compare it negatively with the original – The Little Mermaid (2023) has now officially beaten The Little Mermaid (1989) at the box office.

ariel smiles at a dinglehopper little mermaid
Credit: Disney

In the space of just one week, Disney’s live-action remake has outperformed its animated predecessor. According to Collider, it beat the 1989 version’s total of $211.3 million on June 1. As of June 5, it now sits at $326,707,067.

But it’s not all good news. While The Little Mermaid has excelled at the domestic box office, it’s floundered (pardon the pun) in international markets, especially China, where it’s grossed just $2.63 million. This has largely been put down to well-documented widespread racism throughout the market – something audiences accused Disney of “pandering” to when a poster was released in China that made Bailey seem blue, not Black.

Ariel (R) and Eric (L) in Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' (2023)
Credit: Disney

Regardless of the film’s performance in other regions, however, the general consensus from critics is that Bailey’s turn as Ariel is a resounding success. Reviews praised her “note-perfect star-making performance” and claimed, “Halle Bailey IS Ariel.” Daveed Diggs also received positive reviews for his role as Sebastian, as did Melissa McCarthy for Ursula.

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