Will ‘The Little Mermaid’ End Disney Live Action?

Ariel Little Mermaid
Credit: Disney

As The Little Mermaid (2023) completes its third weekend at the box office, it has passed the $400 million mark. The live action remake stars Halle Bailey as Ariel, Melissa McCarthy as Ursula, Jonah Hauer King as Prince Eric, Daveed Diggs as Sebastian, and Javier Bardem as King Triton.

RELATED: Live Action ‘Little Mermaid’ Arrives at Walt Disney World

Box Office Numbers

The live action remake of the 1989 animated film was reported to cost $250 million to produce and $140 million in marketing (although some have predicted even higher figures). If all those figures are believed to be accurate, then the film is just at about a break-even number. Although it may not be a box office bomb as some critics and anti-Disney folks may have liked, it is far from the massive blockbuster the Walt Disney Company needs. No studio makes a film, hoping it will just break even.

Live Action Little Mermaid

Credit: Disney

Much of the problems with The Little Mermaid‘s (2023) box office numbers are due to its poor performance overseas in many international markets. These markets have also helped many Disney live action movies, such as Aladdin (2019) and The Lion King (2019), reach over $1 billion each.

RELATED: New MagicBand+ Featuring Live Action Ariel

The Well Running Dry

In an article published by The Wrap, it’s been speculated that The Little Mermaid (2023) may be the end of Disney’s live action remakes (not counting the ones currently in production). In addition to the lukewarm box office numbers of the film, it also tics another Disney Renaissance film off the list – and the vault may be running dry.

The Lion King 2019

Credit: Disney

They’ve already given us live action Beauty and the Beast (2017), Aladdin (2019), The Lion King (2019), Mulan (2020), and a Hercules (2025) is said to be on its way. The only films left from that era to work with are Pocahontas (1995) and The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996), both of which may insert Disney again in a pop culture war and online debates over casting, strange CGI choices, as well as changing song lyrics and dialog that some may find problematic.

RELATED: Could $1 Billion Build a 5th Disney World Park?

Aladdin Live ACtion

Credit: Disney

The Mermaid and The Money

Disney, like any film studio, is in the business of turning a profit. The studio needs to make money regardless of any pop culture battles, fights with governors, or debates over its subject matter. And if The Little Mermaid (2023), a remake of one of Walt Disney Studio’s most popular films from their Renaissance Era, can’t turn a hefty profit, what hope is there for a remake of Bambi (1942)or the new Snow White (2024)?

RELATED: Details on the New Live Action ‘Snow White’

Zegler and Snow White

Credit: D23

Perhaps the end of the Disney live action remakes are upon as after all. Unless of course they start mining Pixar films to give us a live action remake of A Bug’s Life (1998).

About Steven Wilk

Steven has a complicated relationship with Disney. As a child, he visited Walt Disney World every few years with his family. But he never understood why kids his age (and older) were so scared of Snow White or Alien Encounter. He is a former participant of the Disney College Program (left early…long story), and he also previously worked in Children’s publishing, where he adapted multiple Disney movies and TV shows. He has many controversial opinions about Disney…like having a positive view of Michael Eisner, believing Return of the Jedi is superior to The Empire Strikes Back, and that Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge should have never been built (at least not at Hollywood Studios). Every year for the past two decades, Steven has visited either Walt Disney World, Disneyland, Aulani or went on a Disney Cruise. He’s happy to share any and all knowledge of the Disney destinations (and he likes using parenthesis a lot…as well as ellipses…)