The Little Mermaid

About The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid Film

The Little Mermaid is a 2023 American musical romantic fantasy film directed by Rob Marshall from a screenplay written by David Magee. Co-produced by Walt Disney Pictures, DeLuca Marshall, and Marc Platt Productions, it is a live-action adaptation of Disney’s 1989 animated film of the same name, which itself is loosely based on the 1837 fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. The film stars singer Halle Bailey in the title role, alongside Jonah Hauer-King, Daveed Diggs, Awkwafina, Jacob Tremblay, Noma Dumezweni, Art Malik, Javier Bardem and Melissa McCarthy. The plot follows the mermaid princess Ariel, who is fascinated with the human world; after saving Prince Eric from a shipwreck, she makes a deal with the sea witch Ursula to walk on land.

Plans for a remake of 1989’s The Little Mermaid were confirmed in May 2016. In December 2017, Disney announced Marshall was being courted to direct the film. Bailey, Hauer-King, McCarthy, Bardem, Diggs, Tremblay, Awkwafina, and the rest of the cast joined between July and November 2019. Production was expected to begin in London between late March and early April 2020 but was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, before ultimately took place from January to July 2021, primarily at Pinewood Studios in England and on the island of Sardinia, Italy. Composer Alan Menken returned to augment the score and write new songs alongside Lin-Manuel Miranda, who serves as a producer with Platt, John DeLuca, and Marshall. The film is dedicated to the late Howard Ashman, who co-produced and co-wrote the songs from the original film. The film is Disney’s second-most-expensive to date.

The Little Mermaid premiered at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles on May 8, 2023, and was released in the United States on May 26. It received mixed reviews from critics, who praised the performances of the cast and the musical sequences, but criticized the visual effects. The film has grossed over $569 million worldwide, $298 million of which was earned in the United States and Canada, making it the ninth-highest-grossing film of 2023 and the seventh-highest-grossing remake by Disney.

The Little Mermaid Film


Ariel is a mermaid princess and the youngest daughter of King Triton, ruler of the merpeople of Atlantica. She is fascinated with the human world despite never having seen it, as Triton forbids all merfolk from surfacing there after Ariel’s mother was killed by a human.

One night, Ariel sees fireworks above the ocean and surfaces to see them better. They come from the ship of Eric, the prince of a nearby island. When a storm arrives, the ship crashes against rocks, forcing all to go for the lifeboats. Ariel saves Eric, brings him to shore, and sings with her siren voice to help save his life. She flees before he can regain full consciousness.

Noticing Ariel’s absent-minded behavior, Triton questions his advisor Sebastian the crab, who reveals that she saved a human. Enraged, Triton travels to Ariel’s grotto to confront her; when she refuses to swear to never return to the surface, he destroys her collection of human objects. Ariel is later approached by two moray eels sent by the sea witch Ursula, Triton’s estranged sister and Ariel’s aunt, who was banished from Atlantica 15 years prior.

At Ursula’s lair, Ariel is presented with a deal: she will turn into a human for three days, during which she must receive “true love’s kiss” to remain human permanently. If Ariel fails, she will transform back into a mermaid and Ursula will claim her. To become human, Ariel must give up her tail, the ability to breathe underwater, and her siren voice, the last of which Ursula will keep in a nautilus shell. Ariel accepts the deal. After receiving human legs, she is taken to the surface by Sergeant Major Flounder, her best friend, and Sebastian. In the human world, she is rescued and taken to Eric’s castle. Eric, who has been searching for the woman who saved his life, rushes to meet Ariel. However, her lack of voice has him immediately turning away, though he does allow Ariel to stay in the castle for as long as she wants. While exploring the castle, Ariel finds Eric’s collection of items he accumulated over his travels. Eric spends time with her poring over his collection.

The next day, Eric takes Ariel sightseeing around the kingdom. Sebastian, who has followed Ariel, realizes that Ursula has put a cheat in the spell that is causing Ariel to forget that she needs to kiss Eric. Along with Scuttle, a northern gannet, and Flounder, Sebastian takes it upon himself to get the pair to kiss. They are almost successful but are thwarted by Ursula’s eels. Enraged by the close call, Ursula turns into a human and uses Ariel’s siren voice to hypnotize Eric. Back at Atlantica, Triton has the kingdom search for Ariel and begins to regret the way he treated her.

The next morning, Ariel and her friends discover that Eric will be announcing his engagement to “Vanessa” (Ursula’s alter ego) later that day. Ariel rushes to the engagement party, confronts Ursula, and breaks the shell. She gains back her voice, and the enchantment on Eric is broken. However, before they can kiss, the sun sets and Ariel transforms back into a mermaid. Reverting to her original form, Ursula drags Ariel back into the ocean.

Wanting to save Ariel, Triton confronts Ursula. However, the deal that she made with Ariel is unbreakable. Triton trades himself for Ariel and is turned to dust by the eels, much to her horror. Ursula claims Triton’s trident just before Ariel confronts her while Eric arrives. Ursula attempts to destroy Eric, but to save Eric the second time, Ariel intervenes and intentionally attacks Ursula, who unintentionally kills her eels. Enraged, she uses the trident to grow in size and summons a storm to threaten Ariel and Eric. Ariel gets on a surfaced ship. Ursula is about to kill Eric with the trident. Saving Eric the third time, Ariel kills Ursula and impales her with its splintered bowsprit. Once Ursula dies, Triton comes back to life. Ariel picks up Triton’s trident and hands it back to Triton. Triton is proud of Ariel for saving Eric three times and killing Ursula. Triton and Ariel recognize the other’s sacrifice for them.

Ariel returns home, where she is unhappy without Eric. On Sebastian’s advice, Triton transforms Ariel into a human permanently, and she marries Eric. The pair decide to travel together, with the blessing of both their parents and the support of people from both their worlds.


  • Halle Bailey as Ariel, a curious, adventurous, and headstrong mermaid princess and King Triton’s youngest daughter who is fascinated with the human world. Bailey was announced to have been cast on July 3, 2019. In the early stages of the film’s development, Lindsay Lohan expressed interest in playing the role. Zendaya was reported to have been offered the part in August 2018, but she herself eventually stated that this was “just a rumor”. Bailey was the first to audition for the role after Rob Marshall saw her perform Donny Hathaway’s 1972 single “Where Is the Love” at the 61st Annual Grammy Awards. According to Marshall, hundreds of other girls also tried out for the part, but she “set the bar so high that nobody surpassed it.”
  • Jonah Hauer-King as Eric, an adventurer and free-spirited human prince whom Ariel falls in love with after saving him from drowning. Hauer-King was announced to have been cast on November 12, 2019. Hundreds of candidates auditioned for the role, including actors Asher Angel, Gavin Leatherwood, Christian Navarro, Jack Whitehall, and Cameron Cuffe, with the latter, along with Hauer-King, doing a screen test alongside Bailey. Harry Styles was in early negotiations to play the part, but ultimately turned it down in favor of doing a concert tour. Marshall later elaborated that Styles also refused because he wanted to do darker, non-musical roles. Hauer-King described his character as “restless and inquisitive about where he is in the world, like Ariel… He’s quite isolated and sensitive.”
  • Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, a treacherous and conniving sea witch and King Triton’s estranged sister, with whom Ariel makes a deal to become a human, which is secretly part of Ursula’s plan to conquer Atlantica. McCarthy was announced to have been cast on June 28, 2019. She described her character as “so funny. There’s wit, there’s manipulation. She’s a great broad and at the same time, I have to think about what armor does she put in? And I don’t think her mental health is great.” Lizzo also auditioned for the role.
    • Jessica Alexander as Vanessa, Ursula’s human alter ego, which she uses to sabotage her deal with Ariel. Alexander was announced to have been cast on March 1, 2021. She described her character as “a seductress, a temptress, the definition of a femme fatale and a sexy female villain.” Of her casting, director Rob Marshall stated it was a conscious decision to cast a relatively unknown actress as Vanessa since McCarthy was already portraying Ursula. He also said: “She’s just a beautiful, beautiful actress, and she went there. It’s sort of rare for someone that beautiful and charismatic to be able to then turn into the sea witch literally in front of you and just lose it. It was exciting to see that change.” Alexander enjoyed playing the role, commenting that she “love[s] being demonic, and just going crazy on screen, so this was a perfect opportunity for that”. Kacey Musgraves was also considered for the role.
  • Javier Bardem as King Triton, Ariel’s strict and overprotective father and the ruler of Atlantica who is prejudiced against humans due to the death of his wife at the hands of one of them. Bardem was announced to have been cast on July 17, 2019. He described his character as “a little bit less grumpy than the original because we were intending to bring more conflict to his behavior, like his fear and insecurity as a father. Being scared of letting his last daughter leave home ends up translating into being angry or too controlling.”
  • Noma Dumezweni as Queen Selina, Eric’s adoptive mother and the ruler of a Caribbean island kingdom. She is a new character for the film. Dumezweni was announced to have been cast on January 5, 2021. She described her character as a “loving queen and a mother queen and a parent and a land lover learning about herself through letting go of her children.”
  • Art Malik as Sir Grimsby, the prime minister of Selina’s kingdom and Eric’s loyal confidant who acts as a father figure to him.
  • Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, a loyal fiddler crab and King Triton’s majordomo who watches over Ariel. Diggs was announced to have been cast on October 8, 2019.
  • Jacob Tremblay as Flounder, an anxious yet noble sergeant major who is Ariel’s best friend. Tremblay was announced to have been cast on July 1, 2019.
  • Awkwafina as Scuttle, a dimwitted northern gannet and a friend of Ariel’s to whom she provides inaccurate descriptions of any human/surface world object Ariel finds. The character is portrayed as a female diving bird instead of a male seagull as in the original to feature the character in underwater scenes. Awkwafina was announced to have been cast on July 1, 2019.



In May 2016, Walt Disney Pictures began developing a live-action adaptation of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Little Mermaid”. Three months later, Lin-Manuel Miranda and Marc Platt signed on to produce the film, which was confirmed to be a remake of the Disney’s 1989 animated film of the same name. On December 6, 2017, it was reported that Rob Marshall was being courted by the Walt Disney Company to direct the film, while Jane Goldman would serve as screenwriter. On December 5, 2018, Marshall revealed that he, along with John DeLuca and Marc Platt were hired to begin developing the project for film adaptation, and said that “John and [Marshall] have begun our work trying to explore it and figure it out”, as he felt that “it’s a very complicated movie to take from animation to live-action. Live-action’s a whole other world so you have to be very careful about how that’s done, but so we’re starting the exploration phase”. Later in December, Marshall was officially hired as director for the film. During an interview on December 21, 2018, Marshall revealed that the film is in very early stages of development, stating that the studio is trying to explore ways to translate the original film’s story into live-action. On July 3, 2019, David Magee, who previously wrote the screenplay for Marshall’s Mary Poppins Returns, was revealed to have written the script with Goldman. Magee would receive sole credit for the screenplay. On February 10, 2020, Miranda revealed that rehearsals for the film had already begun.


May 26, 2023

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