The Little Mermaid Set To Defy Expectations With A Record-Setting Weekend

The live-action remake of The Little Mermaid is expected to be one of the biggest Memorial Day releases of all time.

By Chris Snellgrove | Published

Much controversy surrounded the Disney live-action remake of The Little Mermaid from the very beginning. Some fans expressed doubts about changes to the original story (including changing the race of the titular character), while others worried about the bad CGI from the trailer (including making Flounder look like Steve Buscemi) and questioned why Disney keeps cranking out bad live-action adaptations of its animated classics. However, it looks like most audiences were ready to be part of this world: according to Deadline, the movie is on track to earn a 4-day total between $120 and $130 million and may end up the third highest-grossing film ever released on Memorial Day weekend.

Critically, The Little Mermaid is doing very well, sporting 67 percent among critics and a whopping 95 percent among audiences on Rotten Tomatoes. This is in line with the film earning an “A” CinemaScore rating. Interestingly, this is the same CinemaScore earned by previous Disney live-action remakes such as Aladdin, The Lion King, and Beauty and the Beast, which likely indicates broader support for these live-action films than their detractors would have you believe.

Perhaps most impressively, The Little Mermaid soared (or should that be swam?) past Fast X, the 10th entry in the long-running Fast and the Furious franchise. That movie boasts an impressive cast, including series mainstay Vin Diesel and comic book icons like Jason Momoa and Brie Larson. Going into the weekend, we would have placed our bets on the proven franchise rather than a Disney remake that had garnered so much bad buzz, and the plain truth is that we would have lost that particular bet.

One interesting note about the success of The Little Mermaid is that Disney ended up competing with itself at the box office. Previously, the James Gunn film Guardians of the Galaxy had been dominating the box office and giving us a much-needed reminder that Marvel was still capable of making a good movie. Now, the singing mermaid has ensured that Guardians and Fast X are neck-and-neck for second place at the box office (which honestly says more about the former movie considering that it came out on May 5).

And while The Little Mermaid likely would have been successful no matter what, it really helps that outside of Fast X and Guardians, it didn’t have much in the way of competition. Sure, Machine (starring Star Wars icon Mark Hamill) looks interesting, but many people have barely heard of it. That goes double for other movies out now, such as About My Father, You Hurt My Feelings, and Kandahar, none of which managed to generate the buzz of Disney’s latest live-action remake.

Now, the real test begins for The Little Mermaid: will it continue dominating the box office on subsequent weekends thanks to solid word of mouth? Or did most of the Disney diehards come out in this initial weekend, leaving this film high and dry (so to speak) for subsequent weekends? We have no way of knowing just yet, but so far, it looks like audiences agree with the classic lyric that when it comes to what to watch, “it’s better down where it’s wetter.”