Disney Doesn’t Want Your Kids To See The Live-Action Little Mermaid

Unlike the animated film from 1989, the live-action remake of The Little Mermaid will come with a PG rating.

By Britta DeVore | Updated

the little mermaid

Unlike its “G” rated animated counterpart, Film Ratings has revealed that Disney’s live-action remake of The Little Mermaid has received a “PG” rating for “action/peril and some scary images.” The change comes as Ariel’s adventures move from vibrantly crafted animations to a heavy CGI-reliant live-action film with Halle Bailey starring as the mermaid with dreams of becoming part of the human world. For those who are fans of Disney’s live-action recreations, the rating won’t come as a surprise, as the bulk of its other features have also been given a “PG” rating.

2022 brought the terrifying remake that we quite frankly didn’t need in the Tom Hanks-led Pinocchio which also landed a “PG” rating against the 1940 original’s “G,” while ‘90s classic The Lion King was also given a “G” only to receive a “PG” when it took live-action form in 2019. With these examples and others like it, including Beauty and the Beast and The Jungle Book, also upping the ante by one rating with their jump from the pages of animation to the lively world of live-action, The Little Mermaid’s rating doesn’t come as a surprise. After all, as long as it’s below PG-13, most parents will still allow their children to see Disney’s latest swing at revamping a classic story for a new audience.

And then there’s the fact that at the heart of every Disney fairytale, there’s a scare factor that even a “G” rating can’t hide. For Pinocchio, the wooden boy who comes to life is not only kidnapped but witnesses children being turned into donkeys – both equally traumatizing for kiddos to watch play out on the big screen. In The Little Mermaid, we watch a soul-sucking Sea Witch attempt to usurp the throne after taking the voice from the King’s daughter, Ariel.

little mermaid
Ariel and Ursula in The Little Mermaid (1989)

In case you need a refresher, The Little Mermaid tells the story of Ariel, a mermaid and daughter of King Triton who dreams of a world outside the one she knows under the sea. Upon striking up a deal with Ursula, aka the Sea Witch, the princess agrees to trade in her voice for a shot at gaining the affections of a land-walking man named Prince Eric. The stakes are high and if she fails, which Ursula plans to make sure of, the Sea Witch will own Ariel’s soul forever. 

Since announcing their plans to turn The Little Mermaid into a live-action feature, Disney has faced pushback with their casting of Halle Bailey as some are unhappy with the color of the actress’ skin. It’s 2023 and folks are angry that a fictional mermaid character is being played by a Black woman as opposed to the animated white Ariel of yesteryear. Nevertheless, the film is chugging along with Halle Bailey absolutely dominating her performance in teasers and trailers for the upcoming production. 

While Disney’s takeover of The Little Mermaid, which has spawned several animated films, a Broadway production, and now this live-action feature, may have some “PG” material, we’re sure that families will still head to the theaters in droves to see how Disney brings this one to life. Besides, even with its more “adult” rating, it’s nothing like the original Danish book the story is based on.