Disney’s live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid has become one of the most talked about and awaited movies of 2023. Starring singer-songwriter and actress Halle Bailey as Ariel, Jonah Hauer-King as Prince Eric, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, and Javier Bardem as King Triton, it is based on the 2D animated classic of the same name. Similarly to the original, the story follows the young mermaid, Ariel, who saves Prince Eric from drowning in a shipwreck. Ariel then asks the evil sea witch Ursula to transform her into a human to meet the Prince.
While the movie has been met with a lot of criticism, it has also been lauded for its representation and Bailey’s vocal talents. Despite the polarizing reception, director Rob Marshall (Mary Poppins Returns and Into The Woods) remains optimistic, teasing plans for a potential sequel.
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Can The Little Mermaid start a new franchise?
In a recent interview with Total Film, Marshall talked about the possibility of prequels and sequels after The Little Mermaid’s release, saying:
“I know there have been the prequels and sequels to the animated film – like, the straight-to-video kind of things, you know? It’s a classic story that has a lot of characters and a lot of interesting stories. I do think it’s right for certain things. But you have to see how a movie plays, and how it does… I think there’s always an opportunity to find stories within stories. That’s always a wonderful thing.”
The director referenced the direct-to-video sequel, The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea. Released in 2000, the movie follows Ariel and Eric’s daughter, Melody, who longs to return to the sea against her parents’ wishes. In 2008, the direct-to-video prequel, The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Beginning, saw the princess rebelling against her father’s music ban following his wife’s death.
A live-action sequel or prequel based on these stories will, of course, depend on the success of The Little Mermaid 2023.
The cultural impact of Disney’s The Little Mermaid
The Little Mermaid’s (1989) popularity has inspired other forms of media. In 2019, for example, ABC released The Little Mermaid Live! The musical television special starred Auliʻi Cravalho as Ariel, Graham Phillips as Prince Eric, Queen Latifah as Ursula, and Shaggy as Sebastian. While the special received mixed reviews, it was the highest-rated entertainment telecast at the time.
Like many other Disney productions, The Little Mermaid inspired Under The Sea, an online slot or pokie. Nowadays, it’s possible to find thousands of sites offering real money pokies in Australia and the rest of the world. Not only do these games feature different odds, but also specific topics and themes. So it’s no wonder that developers BetSoft created a pokie to appeal to fans of this classic story.
The Little Mermaid is a timeless love tale and one of Disney’s most beloved productions. While it’s still early to predict the ultimate impact and reception of the 2023 live-action starring Halle Bailey and Jonah Hauer-King, director Rob Marshall remains hopeful, teasing a possible prequel and/or sequel.