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Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” Opens With $117 Million

Released on May 26, Disney’s The Little Mermaid grossed $117 million at the box office on opening weekend domestically. The numbers do not put the film in a generous spot to even make a breakthrough in the movie industry, which could mean little run time in theaters and going straight to streaming. Economists say the film needs to gross at least $560 million internationally to reach the threshold to be a popular film. Given it is a remake of one of Disney’s great fairytales, it is surprising opening weekend was not better. 

Even though it managed to beat other live-action remakes, it fell behind others. Films such as Beauty and the Beast and Dumbo. The stats do not even include the pandemic releases, as Mulan would have grossed more as well. There was also controversy behind the remake as well, as it received a lot of backlash for racism internationally. This was over the choice of casting Hallie Bailey as Ariel, even though others supported the idea. According to CNN, movie goers in China claimed that casting Bailey ruined the original character of Ariel, that “the fairy tale (they) grew up with had changed beyond recognition.” They also said to that “it was not all about racism, but it is a lazy and irresponsible way of storytelling.”

On the other hand, Hollywood film makers had more to say about it. Rob Marshall, the film’s director, said to CNN that Hallie Bailey “was chosen for more than her talent.” Marshall also told CNN, “She immediately set the bar so high that no one surpassed it. We saw every ethnicity. There was no agenda to cast a woman of color.” They were only trying to find the best person to play Ariel, and Bailey won in the end. Even though it was not as popular as it should have been in the US, it received better ratings in countries such as the UK, Australia, Brazil, and Mexico. 

There is also the fact that every movie goes through its own box office trajectory. In other words, it can be bad on opening weekend, but come back stronger in the second week. As the film is nearing its third week, it is already starting to show hope that Disney made the right decision for a remake.

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